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And this is how the rich keep fit

November 11, 2005 15:20 IST

Congratulations, you plucky bastard, you've made it -- you've officially arrived! You've got the corner office, the triumphant job title, the trophy house and, of course, the trophy spouse.

Now all you need is an actual trophy, a scintillating recognition of your sporting prowess to occupy space along the mantelpiece with all those family heirlooms and tchotchkes from Asprey. The only way to get one of those is to excel upon a field of play. And the only way to do that is to get off your assets and get into shape.

Slideshow: The rich man's workout

Of course, being a man or woman of means, not just any sport will do, but one befitting your lofty tax bracket and taste for playing in style. Contrary to popular belief, golf isn't the only game that fits that particular bill. In finer communities across the nation, the wealthy can be found working up a "glow" at everything from galloping polo ponies to navigating yachts to swinging squash or tennis racquets.

Executive health checklist

Rest assured, if they're any good at whatever they're pursuing, it's not because of the size of their money market accounts. "At the highest levels of any sport, even those that don't seem to be physically demanding, the better your overall level of fitness, the better you're going to perform," observes Paul Cayard, a professional sailor who has competed on America's Cup vessels, won the Whitbread Round the World Race as skipper in 1997-98, and recently took the US Olympic Star trials in Miami. "The increments of improvement may be small, but for people who want to excel, that's the difference."

Ten medical tests you need

Much has undoubtedly changed since the last time you were in competing form -- including, most likely, your waistline. Indeed, the body weight of men and women typically increases by 15 per cent to 25 per cent during the first couple of years after they graduate college, the result of sudden-onset sedentary lifestyles highlighted by long hours at the office.

"Battling back from that initial weight gain is very difficult, and often requires incorporating a new lifestyle to keep it off," says Dr. Walter Thompson, an exercise physiologist at Georgia State University.

What kills billionaires

The good news for white-collar types is that studies have shown those in higher-income brackets tend to stay committed to exercise programs longer than those in lower-income brackets. "The bad news," adds Dr. Thompson, "is that 50 per cent of all people eventually drop out of an exercise program, regardless of their income level."

The primary focus of preparatory fitness these days seems to be on the "core" muscles that stabilise the spine and transfer power up the torso, including the abdominals, lower back, gluteals and hips.

Coolest workout equipment

Indeed, when asked what the most important muscle group to emphasise in a sports-specific training program is, more than half of our survey experts chose something from the core: abdominals for golf and billiards, for instance, and the gluteals for squash.

As the muscles of the trunk are the most powerful in the body, it seems it's better to use them than to rely upon ephemeral arm strength alone.

Fitness rules: Getting back into shape

Another important consideration when preparing for the sporting field is interval training -- i.e., interspersing high-intensity workouts with regular periods of low-intensity exercise or rest.

"Everything about the human body oscillates, from sleep cycles to moods to hydration, and so do many sports," says Dr. Jack Groppel, an exercise physiologist with LGE Performance Systems (, an Orlando, Florida-based consulting group that trains athletes and corporate executives for performance under high stress.

Groppel notes that tennis is perhaps the best example of an interval sport: "By matching the body's own cycles, interval training is simply a more natural way to get in shape."

To help you make the most of your hard-earned leisure time, we've compiled a list of ten sporting activities that are just right for those who've earned their affluence off the field, as well as workout tips to help you excel on it. With the summer sporting season fast approaching, now is the time to step up to the plate -- though, really, you should leave baseball to the masses.
Neal Santelmann, Forbes