Everyday grind: How C-Suite executives keep in shape

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The many ways executives keep in shape.


Maintaining a sound body is necessary when you’re responsible for an entire company. How can you make tough decisions when you’re distracted by health problems? Four executives share how they take care of themselves (there’s something for everyone, even the gym-averse).

Gerwyn See, founder and CEO of MASE Investments, Inc.

As the chief executive officer of a holding company and business consultancy firm that specializes in business development, corporate, planning, and governance, Mr. See sees to it that he gets pumped up every day. His secret? Staying active. “My primary motivation for working out is to stay fit and to stay in shape. But beyond these goals, my fitness regime has already evolved to be part of my lifestyle. I lead a very challenging life balancing the demands of both career and family.  Fitness has been my regular outlet to recharge and collect myself—and perhaps to stay sane,” he said.


Work out every day.
“I normally start my day with a morning run on a treadmill while watching Bloomberg. But every now and then, I like taking my jog outside just to keep things interesting. I guess what’s important is doing my cardio in a fasted state (fasted cardio), which helps me keep fat loss at a very optimum level as I’m not getting any younger. I’m 38, if you wish to know. Then, I do my weight training in the evenings after work.  I train about an hour and a half, four times a week. I’ve got a fitness coach who keeps me on track. We mix up exercises and routines depending on our goal at that specific time. It is always good to have professional advice to keep you motivated and get proper results.”

But it’s okay to cheat, sometimes.
“We’re not machines, of course we go through our lazy days. We all go through our own ups and downs. And I would say that a tolerable level of ‘unhealthy cheat’ is acceptable.

“So go, don’t deprive yourself from that craving. Just don’t do it every day. I’ve always believed that taking one bad meal will not make you fat, just as having one good meal will not automatically slim you down. You have to invest in it. And it takes some time to see results, months or even years.”

Gym or village, it doesn’t matter.
“I always do my cardio at home and my jogging around our village, which lasts for about 30 minutes every morning. For weight training, we hold our sessions either at Treston Health Club in BGC or The Rockwell Club in Makati City. My work and family life revolves around these areas, so I train where ever it would be convenient.”

Work-life balance.
“I run on a very tight schedule, but I can’t say it’s perfect all the time. As much as I can, I try to organize my week and allocate specific times and routines for both work and play. My weekdays are normally packed with meetings and trips as I juggle my week between several companies and projects, but for my weekends, they are always dedicated to family. I guess I’m a creature of habit. And I work well having that consistent schedule for my daily and weekly regime.”

Ariel G. Cantos, Philam Life CEO

inside-ariel-cantosHis day starts in silence: prayer and reflection. In the middle of the day, meanwhile, a quiet time is observed to manage stress. For Mr. Cantos, it is not necessary to go the extra mile when it comes to wellness. Rather, it is about the simple things: incorporating a routine into your daily life. “Wellness is not just about being physically fit. It is in finding balance in the different aspects of our life that we find holistic wellness,” he said.

Despite his hectic schedule, he is committed to fitness. “There are so many reasons that will keep us from achieving our fitness and wellness goal, but with discipline and commitment, it can be done,” he said.

Be active in your youth.
“I used to be very active when I was much younger. I played football, basketball, volleyball, badminton, went to the gym regularly, and was even into mountain climbing as I love nature.”

Walk 12,500 steps a day.
“During the day, I make an effort to accumulate as many steps as possible to get close to my goal of 12,500 steps a day. Doing at least 10,000 steps a day, I learned, is good for the heart. I consciously incorporate the steps into my day to make it easier to achieve my goal.”

Walk to reduce stress.
On normal days, I would have tallied about 4,500 steps by the time I leave the office. I complete my 12,500 steps by walking around our village at night. These evening walks along tree-lined streets while listening to relaxing music frees the mind of distractions, and also helps remove any stress built during the day… Domestic and foreign travels are part of my job. I take these trips as an opportunity to relax and do my 12,500 daily steps which is equivalent to about 10 kilometers a day.

Exercise no matter what.
“Once, I completed my steps just inside my room when the hotel did not have a gym and the weather was bad. Another time, I requested a hotel to open the gym so I could use the treadmill when I checked in at 10 p.m.”

Make room for a small gym at home.
“I removed my lame excuse for skipping exercise when it rains. I bought a treadmill and converted my attic into a small gym, so I can work on my steps even when it is raining.”

Dan Torres, head of digital for Samsung Electronics Philippines

inside-dan-torresCellphones and the Internet have bad reps: they make us screen-addicted couch potatoes endlessly scrolling through cat pictures. In reality, smartphones have built-in health tracking systems that can monitor your heart rate and the number of steps you’ve taken. You can also keep tabs on your physical activity, diet, and sleep. Your smartphone can help you record your progress and share your gains on social media. Just ask Dan Torres, head of digital for Samsung Electronics Philippines.

A triathlete, he pursued the multisport after he almost drowned during a beach trip with friends in 2008. To conquer his fear of open water, he joined as many competitions as he could.

“My ultimate goal is to be able to qualify to race in the Ironman World Championship held in Kona, Hawaii (4 -km swim, 180-km bike and 42-km run). What I love about this sport is that you are training for three disciplines. It doesn’t get boring,” said the triathlete, who is training for the Ironman 70.3 Cebu (2-km swim, 90-km bike, 21-km run) in August and Ironman Western Australia (4-km swim, 180-km bike and 42-km run) in December.

Train to conquer fears.
“I’ve always feared the open water. To conquer this fear, I enrolled in Coach Norman Pascual’s learn-to-swim program in 2015. The opportunity opened up when an ex-Samsung colleague invited me to join the said program. When I started swim training, I initially had no intentions of swimming in open water. In February 2017, my coach opened the idea of me joining one of his open water workshops in Subic. I gave it a shot. His instructions and tips definitely gave me a confidence boost.”

It’s now or never.
“My coach, Norman, is very hands on. A lot of his students come from zero background in triathlons and after just a few months are able to change to healthier lifestyles. He helped a lot in showing me that there really is no time limit for people to get fit. People of any age and of any background can do triathlons for as long as they commit themselves to it. I definitely think that this is something more people should engage in. I myself did not believe in this kind of lifestyle when I was younger. I was totally not a sporty type. When I discovered the benefits that come with living such a lifestyle, I immediately got hooked.”

Bye-bye late nights.
“One should be fully committed to it. I had to fully change my lifestyle just to be able to cope. I gave up the late nights and oily food, and disciplined myself to sleep early and eat healthy. I feel more alert and energetic on days when I have training. On days I don’t train, I feel sluggish. This is one of the main factors why I decided to do a full triathlon training. I love how I felt coming to work after training in the morning. It was hard in the first two weeks, but when your body has adjusted to the demands of the training, it becomes a easier. Eventually, your body will even start looking for it.”

Go hard, or go home.
“I train, on average, for 10 hours per week, which includes biking for at least an hour and a half—an average of 40 kilometers—on Mondays at the Mall of Asia Grounds. I also do endurance biking sessions on Saturdays for three hours to Nuvali, Laguna, or Guagua, Pampanga; then an hour of swimming—an average of two kilometers—at the Makati Aqua Sports Arena on Tuesdays and Fridays; a short high-intensity run for one-and-a-half hours—an average of seven kilometers—at the University of Makati on Thursdays, and finally, a long high-intensity run on Sundays for two hours at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig or at the UP Oval in Quezon City.”

Olivia Limpe-Aw, president of Destileria Limtuaco & Co.,Inc.

For Olivia Limpe-Aw, health and wellness is not about the pursuit of a gold medal, but an exercise in moderation. Ms. Limpe-Aw is the president of Destileria Limtuaco & Co., Inc., established in 1852. Held by the family’s fifth generation, the distillery is behind spirits such as Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, White Castle Whisky, Napoleon VSOP brandy, El Hombre tequila, and Toska vodka. One would think that an heiress to a liquor fortune would be a tippler, but Ms. Limpe-Aw is far from being one. As the adage of any good trader goes: “Don’t get high on your own supply.” She said, “It’s there all the time—there’s no need for me to indulge.” Finally, a page from her book to the company’s patrons: “Drink only what you can take.”

Sleep is not for the weak.
“I don’t smoke. I drink for work, not for socials. I also make sure that I get enough sleep.”

Moderation is key.
“I don’t really deprive myself. My diet consists of vegetables and seafood, with some meat mixed in, and very small allowances for sweets. Thanks to my diet and moderate lifestyle I can work long hours; I have a lot of energy. I can concentrate well. I feel good—if  you feel good, you can work well.”