Interview: Marcel, a former Management Consultant

Marcel_Management_ConsultantMarcel, thanks for being with us today. I am very excited about your approach to combining fitness and career. Knowing your background, I think you perfectly fit into our target group of busy professionals who want to stay fit.

I have known you for almost two decades now. During that time I have seen you starting your fitness routine during high school but also how you struggled keeping up your fitness activity when pursuing your career. I am very excited that you share your experiences with us.

Marcel, how did you manage to stay fit during all those years?

Honestly, it was a huge challenge to stay fit during my years in a consultancy due to the highly challenging work environment, tight schedules as well as often changing locations and badly equipped hotel gyms. But I tried to stay fit by doing two things.

First, I shifted my gym training to the weekend and focused on body weight and cardio exercises during the week e.g. in the hotel.

Second, during the week I strictly focused on setting goals that were easy for me to achieve in order to prevent frustrations e.g. 100 push-ups in the morning. That helped me to keep up my motivation and to give me a positive feeling during hard-working nights with no time for workout (My thoughts were like: „at least I did these 100 push-ups this morning…“).

Did you also have times when you had to struggle to keep your motivation and your fitness level up?

Yes, indeed. Especially when I worked “all-nighters” or when I was traveling for business during the week.

There have been several moments where I got heavily frustrated, as I did not make it to the gym not only for weeks but several months. I ended up in a self-enforcing circle of frustrations from my inability to stay in shape and an ever decreasing motivation to make a first step into starting the workout again. However, I learned to deal with these situations and – most importantly – to not condemn myself.

How did you get out of this situation? How did you find motivation again?

Fortunately the day came when my girlfriend grabbed me for a first run in the park after a long break. At the beginning I was frustrated due to my ridiculously bad shape. But after the run, I realized that the feeling of vitality was what I missed for months. This event triggered me to rethink my self-expectations and start setting realistic and achievable goals, which is the best way to keep my motivation up. I try to avoid scheduling to many workout sessions during the week because this leads to frustration and then less motivation to work out in the end.

Today I focus on two gym sessions and one cardio session. A plus: This approach allows me to catch up with my workout schedule even in tough weeks when I can make it to the gym only at the weekend.

What was the trigger that made you start increasing your fitness activity again?

I reconsidered my own expectations of myself and had to abandon some earlier principles. 3-4 times gym or home workout in a week? Might be realistic for some of my colleagues and friends but not for me anymore. 1-2 times a week? Fine, that’s realistic and achievable for myself. The result was less frustration and more sense of achievement.

You are now in your 30s. What has changed in your workout routine compared to your 20s?

In my 20s I focused on maximizing optical mass gains with high resistance, low rep workouts as well as super sets which is a great way to maximize pump and fully fatigue all areas of the muscle.

My current workout is more oriented towards increasing vitality and health, with a balanced mix of cardio and classical gym exercises. My exercises focus more on a medium repetition range to increase my power endurance and in combination with a more balanced nutrition plan.

Talking about your fitness routine, what is the biggest challenge you have to fight with currently?

My biggest challenge is to motivate myself after a long hard-working day and to make sure to make progress in limited time frame and only 2-3 workout days a week.

What part does nutrition play in your fitness routine?

I believe that an optimal nutrition makes about 50 % of your training success. I have simple nutrition rules that help me to stay in shape. E.g. I try to not exceed 2000 calories a day, drink a sufficient amount of water and avoid fast carbs such as refined sugar. In addition, in times when I am very busy I replace one meal with a full nutrition drink e.g. from HUEL, which is easy to integrate in a full working schedule.

Although these basic principles undoubtedly helped me to improve my health and vitality, they are absolutely not written in stone. If I want to eat some crisps while watching Netflix or eat an ice cream at a hot summer day, this should be possible without having bad conscience. Otherwise, healthy nutrition turns the blessing to a burden.

How did you deal with the lock down during the COVID pandemic?

Honestly, in the beginning of the pandemic i have totally neglected workout. However, after several weeks of working in the home office that went along with almost no physical activities (yes… there have been days my watch counted <1000 steps per day) I recognized that this has severe negative impacts on my health mainly reflected in an alarming weight gain and increasingly deteriorating physical condition. After two months I started to go running with my girlfriend, as I am not really into home workouts, which helped me to get a foot into the “workout business” again.

What does combining fitness & career mean to you?

Under no circumstances should fitness become an additional stress factor to working life, but must provide relaxation and balance. Hence, setting realistic goals in both areas is a key success factor to stay mentally balanced.

What would you recommend to people who struggle to be as active as you are?

Don’t condemn yourselves for not being as active as you could be. I am sure, there are good reasons for it. We are people with various obligations in our professional and social lives and not physical workout machines. So start setting achievable goals and do not overstrain yourself. And finally: Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.

Marcel, thank you very much for your time.

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