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Although you work in the fitness industry, making your personal fitness regime a priority isn’t always easy, especially when your day is jammed packed with operations tasks and meetings with members and staff.
Despite the time-management challenges, Ralph Rajs has always made personal fitness a priority as the vice president of operations and wellness for Leisure Sports. Recently he shared why fitness is so important to him and how others can make it a priority as well.
CS: Has fitness always been a huge part of your life? Did you play sports in high school, for example?
RR: Healthy living has been very important to me since college. I majored in nutrition because I was fascinated with how diet can dictate the way you look and feel. The other aspect that interested me was how exercise also played a role in that equation. As a teen, I experience firsthand how exercise was an effective tool for coping with stress and balancing emotions. I discovered that I was a better person when I exercised regularly and I never want that to stop.
CS: How did you get into marathon training?
RR: Doing marathons or IRONMAN triathlons are an extension to the regular, weekly training I do. I enjoy testing myself and seeing what I am capable of. I think people in general are capable of so much more than they are willing to give themselves credit for and they just have to be willing to try to find out. After doing five IRONMAN triathlons, I was ready for a new challenge. In 2015, I did the New York Marathon, last year I did the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington D.C., and this year I am doing the Chicago Marathon. I really enjoy exploring and getting to know big cities, and the before, during, and after of a big race are a great way to do that. Plus, I can share the exploration experience with my wife and kids.
CS: As a busy fitness executive/operator, how do you make fitness priority? Do you have a schedule you stick to?
RR: I have found the best way to make fitness a priority is to get up early and get it done before work. That way it’s all on me to get it done. There is something beautiful about getting out for a run or a bike ride while it’s still dark and seeing the day begin. Even when I travel, I like to get out early and have been able to see some amazing things. I have an amazing Excel spreadsheet training log — at least I think so — that goes back to 2004 and I love tracking my mileage on Strava and my heartrate with MYZONE. All these things help keep me going day after day.
CS: Do you think your passion for fitness gives you an edge as a leader in the health/fitness space?
RR: The things I do help keep me in touch with the latest trends in the clubs as well as what’s going on outside the clubs. I think staying active is vital if you want to stay current in the fitness industry. It helps that it is my passion. After 30 years of going to the annual IHRSA convention, I still love showing up to the exhibit in workout gear and trying out all the newest equipment.
CS: What advice could you give to other club operators struggling to make fitness a priority?
RR: My advice to anyone who is struggling to make fitness a priority is to spend some time thinking about what your drivers are. I think people generally fit into three categories: People who enjoy social workouts, people who enjoy competition, and people who like to achieve milestones. I think if you know who you are and tap into one of these three energies that might be just enough to get you locked into a routine.