SINGAPORE - As the saying goes, a family that plays together stays together.
While the Atal household makes it a point to have fun together, they are not content to do just that.
They are also keen to sweat it out through exercising, which was why Vijay Atal decided to sign up his family of four to run together for the first time at this Sunday's Straits Times Run at the Hub.
Due to a combination of work and studies, though, the quartet - Vijay, 48; wife Binu Chaudhary, 46; son Shaurya, 17; and daughter Tanya, 13 - rarely exercise together as a family.
Vijay swims, hits the gym or runs in the morning before work, while Binu goes for a run or does pilates after work. Shaurya and Tanya swim at the United World College South-east Asia's (UWC) Dover Road campus, and go for tennis classes at the weekend.
"We try to spend quality time together as a family but it is usually through activities like going for walks or catching a movie but never for a run," said Vijay, an IT director with Unilever International. "At the same time, we thought this is a good way to get the two kids interested in running."
Added Binu, a regional commercial manager with an engineering consultancy: "We want them to pick up running as a hobby because it's not only an easy way of keeping fit, but also because it helps build their character.
"In running, you need to be disciplined and prepared to achieve milestones, which are fundamental values that apply to real life."
On Sunday, Vijay will run in the 10km category with Shaurya, while Tanya will be accompanied by Binu in the 5km category.
"It's Tanya's first run in this distance so we wanted to ease her into the sport, rather than push her hard and make her lose interest in it totally," said Binu.
Prior to this, the Atals have been able to run only as a group of three thrice, as Tanya did not meet the age requirements for many running events, which made her feel "left out and disappointed".
"I'm scared - because I haven't run as far as 5km before - but, at the same time, I'm excited at trying it out for the first time," said Tanya, a Grade 7 student at UWC.
While there are other races that she is eligible for, her dad chose to go for the ST Run as it offers his family a better race experience.
"Like everyone else, we wanted to explore the new National Stadium for ourselves," said Vijay. "But also, this run has a fewer number of participants, which means we have less congestion to enjoy the run and explore the Singapore Sports Hub after the race."
For Shaurya, he is hoping this run is the first of yet another frequent family activity.
This article was first published on September 23, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.