A good sweat keeps stress at bay

Mr Brian Povinelli

AGE: 44

HEIGHT: 1.75m

WEIGHT: 70kg

The global brand leader of Westin Hotels & Resorts and Le Meridien thought he was already quite passionate about fitness, but his interest in it reached a whole new level when he met his wife.

She is both a marathon runner and triathlete. In order to see her and win her over, he had to step up his fitness game. She got him started on triathlons but is still beating him at them today.

However, he has paid his fitness passion forward by starting an associate enrichment programme for the hotel chains to encourage employees to eat, move and feel well.

The staff cafeterias in all the hotels serve healthy meals and the chefs provide recipes which the employees can use to make the same dishes at home for their families.

He did not stop with hotel employees. On Friday, he was in Singapore to launch the Westin Work Out, Do Good campaign, which encourages Westin guests here to take part in the hotel's fitness programmes during their stay and to do their bit for a worthy cause.

A pair of New Balance shoes will be donated to Soles4Souls - a charity which provides footwear to those in need - for every 20 guests who utilise the Westin New Balance gear-lending programme, which provides guests with New Balance sports gear for a nominal fee.

Back home in Stamford, Connecticut, in the United States, he, his wife, Deborah, a physical therapist, and three children aged 10, eight and four, often work out together. His children are now participating in little triathlons.

"It's a great way to get our exercise in and bond with them at the same time," he said.

Q: What do you do to keep fit?

A: As I like to compete in triathlons, I need to ensure that I swim, run and bike regularly. And, when I can, I add yoga and weight-lifting sessions as well.

I try to run twice a week, and swim and bike once a week. I run typically between 6km and 8km per session, swim for 1.6km and bike around 48km. For each of the workouts, it is what I can do in an hour.

When I'm travelling, I do the same activities, but as I may not have access to a road bike, I will use the stationary bikes in our hotel gyms instead.

Q: What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

A: To me, looking good is about taking care of myself, which includes eating well, sleeping well, being well-hydrated and working out regularly.

I travel extensively but I always pay attention to what I eat and make sure I keep to my workout regimen.

Sometimes, I will work out as soon as I land in a new country as it helps me overcome jet lag and get accustomed to a new time zone.

Relieving and eliminating stress is part of it too. As stress contributes quite a lot to ageing, if you can eliminate it from your life by either exercising or having a positive mental attitude, I think that would really help you to look and feel your best.

Q: Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A: Yes, the first couple of years after university. I worked in advertising and logged really long hours, including weekends.

I thought I was in good shape so I focused more on work. A couple of years later, I realised I was not in the shape I wanted to be, so I started taking care of myself and finding work-life balance.

Q: What is your diet like?

A: I enjoy eating so I don't diet, but I have a general philosophy of eating well. That means I eat smaller meals and eat more frequently.

I think it's important to have a little bit of food every two to three hours so you don't end up having large meals.

I have fresh fruit and fruit juice every morning. Typically, I don't eat red meat so, for me, it's an indulgence. I also eat a lot of fish and vegetables, and the latest thing my family is into is eating healthy grains such as red and black rice and quinoa.

I also love nuts, so walnuts and almonds often feature in our diets.

Q: What are your indulgences?

A: I have a huge sweet tooth, especially for anything with chocolate. That's really my major motivation for working out - so I can have my desserts and not feel guilty about them.

Q: What is your work like and does it make it difficult for you to keep fit?

A: Although travel takes up a lot of time, our hotels have great facilities. When I am on the road, I always have easy access to a gym or a pool.

Sometimes, I think I work out more when I travel because I don't have to balance my time with my children and my personal activities.

Q: What do you do to relax?

A: To relax, I work out. That is my escape. When I am running or on the bike, that is the time when I can really clear my head. Another time I can relax is when I spend time with my children. That is when I really disconnect from work, focus on them and see their perspectives on life. It's a lot of fun.

I think the ability to tune work out when I really need to has contributed to my career. When I need to focus on my family, I can put my smartphone away and leave the e-mail behind.

There's a lot of talk about having a lifestyle where work and play are entirely mixed but I don't subscribe to that philosophy. I think you need to keep them separate.

Q: What are the three most important things in your life?

A: My family, my health and the opportunity to experience new things.

Travel is one way to see new things and keep a sense of wonder alive. In the past few years, I visited two places for work which fired my imagination - Machu Pichu in Peru and outside Xi'an in China, where I viewed the terracotta warriors.

Q: Would you go for plastic surgery and why?

A: I have never thought about it and the answer is probably "no".

Q: Do you think you're sexy?

A: I don't really think so but as long as my wife does, that's all that matters.

wanching@sph.com.sg

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