Fit to Lead | Ravish Kumar: Doubles badminton helped me appreciate teamwork

Fit to Lead | Ravish Kumar: Doubles badminton helped me appreciate teamwork
© Shrenik Avlani Fit to Lead | Ravish Kumar: Doubles badminton helped me appreciate teamwork

Note to readers: Fit to Lead is a series of interviews with business leaders on their approach to fitness, leadership and navigating the new normal.

Ravish Kumar, 51, was a sporty child in school. But he was overweight by 2015, when his mother died of cancer.

Recent research show a link between being overweight and cancer risk.

“I started walking with a vengeance – first for a half hour, then an hour and then for up to two hours a day and with each passing day I grew faster and fitter. At the end of nine months after losing 23 kg I was physically and mentally a very different person,” recalls Kumar, head, regional entertainment (Kannada and Marathi clusters), Viacom18.

In an interview, Kumar talked about his fitness journey, and working and working out through the pandemic months. Edited excerpts:

When do you workout?

Depending on my work load, I set aside one to two hours for my fitness activities every day. This includes a brisk morning walk of about 5.5km in 60 minutes or playing intense badminton doubles games for an hour. After that I stretch for half an hour and do back exercises. I also head out for a 30-minute walk or run with my Maltese dog, Leo.

Also read: Fit to Lead | Salil Murthy: “The pandemic has forced us to build new muscles”

Favourite fitness activity…

Badminton. I really enjoy playing the sport, the intensity of the game, the teamwork and anticipation required in doubles, the competitive camaraderie, as also heckling, and the old-fashioned joy of getting a good sweaty workout with friends. I do not play to win but when I do win it does make me happy because I am competitive but not cut-throat.

Your toughest?

I just cannot figure out how to swim properly.

Also read: Fit to Lead |Gagan Banga: “Running helps me focus solely on myself, and the things I can do”

What is your new normal like?

I live in a large apartment complex in Mumbai in South Mumbai with all modern lifestyle amenities, which affords me the opportunity to continue my fitness schedule despite the lockdown restrictions.

Having a 15-year-old son who is a black belt in karate and a keen basketball player is a blessing as he has taken it upon himself to be my personal trainer, coach, physiotherapist and boot camp instructor.

Other than that working from home has its unique challenges – namely, the blurring of workplace and home, duality of being in two places at the same time, balancing the professional with the personal, staying connected and motivated and ensuring that work is getting done even amid the chaos of this coronavirus pandemic.

Also read: Fit to Lead | HRX’s Pallavi Barman: “Stiffness is not good when it comes to fitness or leadership”

I am a people’s person and I feed off the energy of others and miss that. I especially feel bad for the newcomers who are missing out on the warmth and camaraderie that come when you work with a team.

The pandemic has also got us to start a conversation about how often we really need to come to office in person and how many of our business trips are completely necessary. It has also made us a lot less dogmatic about meetings… we understand that the times are such that people could have emergencies or other issues that might make it difficult for them to attend one even if it is a virtual one.

Being fit has made me flexible, adaptable, competitive and deeply appreciative of teamwork. It has definitely enhanced my energy levels.

Has your fitness routine, in any way, helped you navigate the uncertainties of the current times?

Both badminton and walking have addressed my social urgings during these Covid-19 times. I have been glad to meet friends while playing badminton… The days I go for walks, I cherish the smiles, nods and the chit-chat with others who are out on the same route. I have been glad to meet people and stay healthy at the same time.

Read more: Fitness planner: Beginners’ guide to running 10K in eight weeks – Part 1

What is the one change you would encourage your teammates to make to deal with the challenges of current times?

I encourage people to set themselves impossible goals and then push them to try and achieve those goals… Such an approach requires mental strength and that comes from self-discipline.

Any leadership lessons in your fitness journey…

Your fitness journey begins with you. It is immensely challenging and also immensely rewarding. But it is not a journey to be made solo – it helps to have a team of trusted advisers/friends who give you the strength, determination and direction to achieve your goals and celebrate achievement milestones. It is the same with an organization. Because of my own struggles in badminton, especially in doubles where you need to understand and complement your partner’s game…I have learned to appreciate teamwork.

Being fit helped you become a better leader?

Being fit has made me flexible, adaptable, competitive and deeply appreciative of teamwork. It has definitely enhanced my energy levels and made me a more chiseled, younger, positive and balanced version of myself.

What challenges and goals have you set for yourself for the next year?

My goal for the next year is to build on my basic fitness foundation and leverage it to build my core strength and muscle. While I have come a long way from where I was, I still have a long way to go, so am all packed and ready to roll.

Read more: Fitness planner | Long-distance cycling: from couch to 50K in 12 weeks – Month 1

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