Life in the corporate and start-up world can be stressful – and that’s not news.
This senior executive has run over 300 half and full marathons thus far. But what was noticed is when he ran a few of them in recent years in formal suits – to draw attention to and reiterate the importance of having a healthy lifestyle despite pressures of the corporate world. Meet Nishant Bhardwaj, VP of Emerging Digital Business at HDFC Life.
As a senior executive and start-up founder, Bhardwaj noticed a few things that made him embark on this initiative. Among observations was that across levels of work, most are glued to their mobile phones or laptops even post work hours – and that only adds to the piled up stress.
“As work takes the front seat, health and fitness is ignored or is not considered in the top priority list. This will lead to several health complications. I have been concentrating on my fitness since 2005, that’s when my personal life changed. That’s when I thought, why not try to bring awareness by trying something difficult but can be achieved with persistence?” Bhardwaj said.
When the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020 was set to happen, Bhardwaj thought it was the best platform as the corporate participation in the event is huge every year.
“I decided to run the full marathon in full formal suit so that people stand up and take note. I used to work in SBI at the time. It’s a place where the average age is considered very high. When I ran the Mumbai Marathon in 2020, the message was sent across the organisation that our colleague has done this and why everyone should start giving importance to health,” he added.
Bhardwaj recalls how he was ridiculed by the onlookers and participants during the run.
“I have faced lots of insults. People will stare at you and few of them asked me whether I have run out of my marriage function. Some mocked me asking whether I thought I was James Bond or something. At the same time, Mumbai has a very supportive environment, many of them have cheered for me and clicked pictures with me on the go. I was also not running at my fast speed and was doing it at a relaxed speed,” he explained.
Slow or fast, the running initiative has come a long way. Now people have stopped asking him the reason behind running in a suit.
The ‘250 Rule’
Bhardwaj believes that a ‘RULE OF 250’ can truly help one navigate their way to peak fitness.
Here’s how he breaks it down:
- 250 hours per year
- 250 hours = 5 hours per week x 50 weeks
- Out of the 8,760 hours in a year (24 hours × 365 days)
“Just dedicate 250 hours out of 365 days, and all your health & lifestyle issues will start to vanish. You can then have the body you want, you can run a half marathon, you gain muscles or drop those extra kilos,” he added.
It’s a ‘rule’ he has personally tested for 17years
“Over the last 17 years, I have tried this ‘Rule of 250’ over and over again. With 250 hours as your anchor in fitness backed by healthy eating, timely meals, three to four litres of water, seven hours of sleep, getting sun, measuring your macros and micros, and you are sorted,” he added.
He has participated in the Ironman Triathlon, regarded as the world’s toughest single-day endurance event.
“It includes 3.8 kms of swimming in the ocean followed by 180 kms of cycling, and 42.2 kms of full marathon. It takes about one to one and a half years to train for the event. I was training since 2019. I was supposed to do Ironman Estonia in 2020 but the pandemic hit. I did it in August 2022 and my first Ironman was done in 12 hours and 13 minutes in Estonia,” he said.
Bhardwaj is also a certified Ironman coach.
“There are only about 20 to 25 qualified Ironman coaches in India. I completed the course for the passion of endurance and so the learnings can be passed on to others. I have trained over 50 people for marathons or Ironman triathlon,” he added.
He also uses his social media accounts to educate on corporate fitness. He runs a podcast and his Instagram profile has over 18k followers.
Bhardwaj takes inspiration from his father late Col. Inder Mohan who has led him towards the fitness path.
His other sources of inspiration include James Lawrence, who has done 101 full Ironman in 101 days. Lewis Hamilton, who is a seven-time F1 champion, Tim Ferris, a thought leading podcaster and ‘Mind & Body Hacker’.
Back in 2014, Bhardwaj co-founded a hyper local grocery start-up named Zopeco.com in Noida, way ahead of the times. He ran the company till 2016 and due to a funding freeze, the team was forced to shut shop.
But that will not stop Bhardwaj from venturing into a fitness start-up in the near future.