Why sport is so important to me, and how having goals/races drive me in business

In the late 90s, I was making my way through high school, and if you asked my peers, I would not have fit the Sporty Spice persona. I was musical, sure. Nerdy or weird for certain. Yet it wasn’t until later in life that I found sport (or it found me).

Before I had my oldest daughter, I suffered a miscarriage that gave me the wake-up call I needed to start looking after myself. Dr. Yeates, my OBGYN, advised me that if I wanted to try to get pregnant again that I would need to start looking after myself better. She recommended I start doing Aquafit at the local YMCA as a starting point and then adding in yoga when I felt ready.

So in 2010, at the ripe age of 30, the older gals of Collingwood’s YMCA Aquafit class took me under their wings to help me get into shape. Before long, I was pregnant again and expanding my exercise classes to yoga, Zumba, swimming, and at six months pregnant, I ventured into the first spin class of my life – in those days, a terrifying proposition. At nine months pregnant with my first daughter, I weighed less than the earlier 1-month milestone. It didn’t make sense! No alcohol, better food, and exercise were working – and I was hooked on fitness!

Over the years since, including during my second pregnancy, I did my best to stay active, expand my options, and ensure my work travels meant no workouts. I found myself a trainer who got me into Olympic weightlifting, a triathlon club at the local YMCA which helped me prep for my first ever triathlon and where I found community and a new sport.

Through triathlon, I found out a lot about myself. It was a medium for me to set a goal, put in the work, and feel a real sense of accomplishment after finishing a race. It was a way that I found confidence in myself, and it helped me set goals – year over year. Learning how to swim front crawl at the ripe age of 36 forced me to deal with lifelong fears, and tackling the fears and perceived inadequacies translated into other areas of my life. I translated my newfound goal-focused approach to life to my career and the business. We had been going through some challenging times with the decline of Oil and Gas and considerable losses in business.

When I knew I had a race coming up, I was forced to find time for training. A pair of runners and a swimsuit became part of my regular travel gear, and I enjoyed runs through the beautiful early mornings of Houston, Newport, London, and Copenhagen. It also gave me excellent focus time on the road while my feet hit the asphalt and an opportunity to sightsee while travelling for business (something I normally don’t have time for).

Hiking; SUP Boarding; weights; a road, gravel, stationary bikes; yoga; a few great pairs of runners (and of course A LOT of great matching outfits) put the fun into sports and kept me motivated. The ability to take some activity, wherever I go, has kept it in my routine and made up for all the great food I get to eat on the road and the stress of my career—a match made in heaven for the CEOwhocooks.

– Niru Somayajula, President & CEO of Sensor Technology Ltd

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