Fitness isn’t just a way of life for Founder and CEO of TROO Hospitality Winston Zahra: it’s a leadership approach as well. “Apart from giving fitness a lot of importance myself, I also encourage my team to keep in shape,” he affirms. “I believe that the right level of fitness not only has physical benefits but also helps energy and mindset levels throughout the day.
“Running affects the way I feel about myself, my headspace, my energy levels and my general approach – it makes all the difference to the type of day I have. I also find that I get more done as a result. The overall benefits of doing something every day makes such a positive difference to your life – I keep that in mind, especially when I don’t feel like running.”
Prior to a health scare around 12 years ago, Winston shares that he wasn’t always so fitness focused. “I did the occasional bit of exercise, but never as regimentally as I do now,” he says. “I used to work crazy hours and not eat the right things, resulting in weight gain and extremely high cholesterol levels. When a doctor advised that without medication I was at a high risk of having a heart attack before I was 40 – and then at risk of ending up in a wheelchair due to muscle deterioration – it was a huge eye-opener. Thankfully, a good friend of mine is also a running coach and he convinced me that there was another, more natural solution. I haven’t looked back since! It has literally been life-changing for me.”
Today, Winston’s daily run is sacrosanct. “It’s an integral part of my life and, as a result, of my business activity as well. I run every day, first thing in the morning before I start any work – it takes discipline and a desire to do it, but I know the benefits. My running regime has a mix of reasonable distance easy runs, a weekly long run and the occasional speed session as well. I always have a running race in mind and have participated in races between 5km and 51km. I enjoy the adrenalin rush and the friendly competition during races, although I do push myself to do as well as I can in my age group. It’s a pleasant community and people encourage each other.”
Aside from having the right mindset and making the decision to prioritise health, Winston highlights what worked for him at the start of his own fitness journey. “Starting slowly and with patience is key – don’t bite off too much too soon. Guidance is also important, ideally from a good coach or mentor as a source of information and encouragement. Also consider training with a buddy; it’s helpful, enjoyable, and keeps you accountable and on time. Finally, instead of looking at training as an inconvenience or a sacrifice, I look at it as a way of life and something that makes me feel better all-round,” he concludes.
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