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The Globe and Mail

Executive plays hard to keep up with a 13-year-old

In India, Atul Mahajan walloped squash balls to stay fit.

jennifer roberts The Globe and Mail

Growing up in India, Atul Mahajan, president and chief executive officer of Oshawa Power and Utilities Corp., walloped squash balls to stay fit. After he immigrated to Canada in 1988, he took up and pedalled in spin classes and skiingskied snowy slopes before returning to racquet sports, facing a beloved opponent - his daughter.

My goal

"It's threefold: To motivate my 13-year-old daughter Sonia to be physically active in both sports and fitness. Second, I have to be able to play tennis and ski with her at the same intensity as her in 20 twenty years from now. Third, to walk the golf course and carry my bag."

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My workout

"Every weekend we try to get out and have a competitive tennis game.

"Most mornings for the past decade and a half I do treadmill walking, incline forty-five 45-degree incline, for 40 minutes. I start with a steady state and then increase the speed or incline.

"In the evenings on alternate days I do free weights in a routine I learned just by watching people. People used to call me the 'Push-up King' at Cambridge Club. I like to do about 120 push-ups in two sets of 60."

"I look forward to skiing - I use gravity. I go to Mont Tremblant, and the Kandahar run is a great fun run. Sonia and I just love it."

My lifestyle

"I lost my dad to heart and stroke issues in '96 and ever since then I've been very careful to be healthy. I have tried various diets. I tried Atkins, and that was a mistake, but now it's about balanced eating with the focus on eating less processed food.

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"Steel-cut oatmeal or Kashi cereal has become my favourite breakfast. On a business lunch or dinner, mostly I go for white meat, fish. Once in a while a steak dinner is what I look forward to."

My motivation

"Sonia. I'm crazy about her. Gosh, it would be a dream to be able to play and sweat all over the court and chase her down the slopes. I'd love for her to say she's playing tennis with her dad who's 80 years old and we're going to have a tough game."

My anthem

"I read and watch the news."

My challenge

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"Rickard's Red beer and chicken wings."

The critique

Power up cardio, lower risks

Sapna Sriram, a strength conditioning expert and chiropractor at Emkiro Health Services in Toronto, suggests Mr. Mahajan power up his heart and lungs with interval training, which builds anaerobic and aerobic systems, better addressing cardiovascular demands of his sports.

Dr. Sriram adds: "To lower cholesterol and ensure his body is fighting off atherosclerosis [a process whereby plague builds up inside arteries] Mr. Mahajan should also nix high-sodium foods, avoid coconut oil and eat two small avocados a week."

Boost leg stamina

Personalized training trumps copycat routines, Dr. Sapna says. She recommends Mr. Mahajan switch to load-bearing workouts to condition legs for tennis and skiing, and prescribes squats, lunges with such variations as weights or steps, and leg presses.

"Twice a week he should do three sets of eight reps to build strength; in four to six weeks he'll feel less leg burn and more endurance to ski longer on the slopes."

Editor's note: This version corrects the name of Emkiro Health Services, which was incorrect in the original version of this article.

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