News & Insights

Read and share Parliament Hill insights and news on the tips, trends, and key developments we’ve identified for benefit management and member satisfaction.

A tale of Tennis, Taekwon-do and a lady called Christine

In the first blog of his ‘healthy habits for leaders’, Andrew goes back to the start of his career and looks at how exercise played a role in maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

Back in the mists of time, my first proper job was in sales. The mantra at the time in that environment was ‘books, tapes*, gym’, for personal development.

Looking beyond the fact that it all sounds a bit naff, there was some sense to all this. Accelerated learning from reading about / listening to people who’d spent decades perfecting their craft. And getting yourself fit and healthy too. I recently saw a summary showing 99 reasons to exercise - and it makes an overwhelming case I wasn’t the healthiest kid during my childhood - just ask my brother-in-law, who will delight in telling you what a sickly, spindly boy I was. I was quite badly asthmatic and prone to chest infections, including pneumonia - and I knew from a relatively early age that exercise would make me stronger.

That said, you have to find what works for you - and of course understand that this may change. I went to the gym for years until I got bored of it (there’s only so much WWE you can watch on the screens). And I always found running pretty dull. Anyway, when I did the marathon 24 years ago, I was overtaken by a lady with one leg - and that was plenty enough to put me off. What emerged later on (a few years after the birth of my 2 daughters) was that I would better enjoy activities that involved being with other people, preferably developing new skills. This coincided with some development work I’d been doing with our fantastic coach Christine Adames , who has helped so many of us over the years at Parliament Hill. Christine has used the Enneagram as a development tool for many years, and in analysing my report, it became apparent that my Ennea ‘type’ was always in danger of slipping into workaholism, along with a charming little dash of martyrdom. Christine encouraged me to make some time for myself, away from work. And before long, I found myself every week playing tennis, attending taekwon-do classes, and learning yoga.

The motivation behind the different activities varied. I play tennis with 3 mates almost every weekend of the year, in some pretty bleak weather. Taekwon-do (TKD) started because back in 2015, my elder daughter said she fancied trying it - and I realised I did too - so we managed to find a local class to go together, soon to be joined by my younger daughter as well. That was a great way to get fit and learn the discipline of this martial art together as a unit - until they eventually got fed up during lock-down, when the whole thing had to operate over Zoom. (I don’t think they loved the bit where you get punched in the face much either).

I’m not technically in the full bloom of youth any more, and have been conscious of the danger of injury. So the next thing I started was yoga. I’d tried Pilates a number of years previously, but it didn’t grab me, as I found it a bit dull (sorry). But this was probably just an issue of timing – once I’d started TKD, I now had the motivation to take up yoga , which is arguably even more sedate than Pilates. In addition to the stretching and strengthening elements (which should hopefully reduce my chance of a TKD strain / injury), it’s also a lovely way to quieten the mind and drop the stresses of the week.

During my time on court or in the gym doing these classes, I have had to learn to put pride (and sometimes dignity) to one side. There’s no false modesty involved when I say that in our tennis doubles, I’m the weakest link. I only really took it up in my early 40s, so fair enough. But I remember spotting 2 couples clearly in their 60s playing every week - and thinking how fantastic it’d be if my friends and I ended up playing for 10 years, and then 20, and maybe even longer.

Overall, I love the combination of exercise that I now follow, and there’s no doubt that the benefits go way beyond health (and hopefully longevity). Exercise can be fun and sociable, and bring a heightened energy and perspective, and I hope I can carry on for many years yet.

Andrew’s next blog; ‘Teetering on the edge of inflexibility’ will be released soon.

Andrew Holden founded Parliament Hill in 2004 and has seen the company go from strength-to-strength to where we are today, with over 95 clients and close to 7 million members. If you are interested in becoming a client or partnering with Parliament Hill, please get in touch with Andrew here .

*For our younger readers…. tapes existed pre-CDs and were, amongst other things, great for recording the Top 40 off the radio (although you lived in fear of the police busting down your door and arresting you). Also, sooner or later, the tape would get all mangled up, and you’d have to spool it back in using a pencil or the lid on a felt tip pen).

Get in touch

To make an online enquiry, please fill in the form below