Cindy Reid – sponsored, elite vertical marathon racer, banker and gym owner – sharing her perspectives on goal-setting and discipline
Sponsored athlete, gym co-founder, fitness instructor, and corporate banker at a global listed American large scale bank, holding degrees in economics and finance, a chartered accounting qualification, an M.B.A., and various types of fitness certifications, Cindy Reid seems to do it all. As a competitive vertical runner, Cindy is ranked 1st in Hong Kong and 4th globally in the sport in the women’s elite category in 2016. Cindy had never liked running until she returned to the city for work. When she tried out 10km runs for fun and would consistently place among the top five, she knew she had a knack for it. Juggling a professional career, an elite athletic career, a coaching career and an entrepreneurial career, Cindy still finds time amongst her hectic schedule to spend time with her husband and do charity work with Food Angel and Project Share. On top of this, she is the Chair for WIN Hong Kong (Women Initiatives Network, an Employee Resource Group within the bank she is employed at), promoting gender equality and diversity & inclusion in the financial industry. This past weekend on 23 April 2017, she placed 5th in the elite category racing up the world’s newest skyscraper in South Korea, the Lotte World Tower, which is now the world’s 5th tallest building!
You wake up early every day at 530am to train clients, go to work for the whole day, fit in your own training during lunch, teach more fitness classes after work whilst competing on the international vertical circuit on the weekends. How do you find the energy and motivation to do all of this?
Despite standing barely at 5 feet tall, with humble beginnings in my sporting pursuits and limited athletic genes in my family, my life has been a personification of purpose and intent. I have no secrets, everything that I have done up until this point exemplifies perseverance and sheer determination.
I founded the HIT Room (www.thehitroom.com.hk) 4 years ago with my partner and we both run two jobs concurrently so that requires a significant amount of time management skills and organization. When I am at work, I focus on my deliverables. When I am working out, I train hard.
Rule number 1: be disciplined;
Rule number 2: be organized;
Rule number 3: be structured.
I plan my training and my nutritional needs by the week. Every night I lay out my professional outfit, I get my meals prepped ahead of time and categorized into containers by macronutrients, then I set out my shoes/gym kit by my bedside so I literally roll out of bed and into my workout gear! I document everything down the old-fashioned way, and use apps to track my running and my eating. Every week I tailor my training specific to my competitions and I compete at least once a month.
What does sport bring to you? What impact has it had on your life?
It has without a doubt made me a better person. I am empowered to be more confident as I gain strength and fitness. It has made me stronger mentally as I never give up even in the darkest hours of fatigue and pain. As the years went on I become more experienced as a coach, an instructor and a personal trainer, I learn to be compassionate and empathetic whilst challenging others to be their best versions. Sports, used in the right way, is a powerful agent for change for the individual and for the society.
What parallels do you draw from vertical running and being a fitness instructor to the workplace? How do they complement each other for you?
I change my hat from being a 2XU and ASICs sponsored athlete, to a fitness instructor/personal trainer, to a corporate banker – put simply, my life revolves around setting SMART objectives and kicking goals. There are steps to prepare yourself for a task on hand, you need your tools, the right gear and the right mindset to succeed. I have trained for a White Collar Box fight a couple of years ago and have competed in 7 bodybuilding competitions in 1 year, so irrespective of the type of competitions I sign up for, I train specifically for that goal.
How does your sporting career influence the way you behave as a corporate banker and vice versa?
I make no apologies for being a go-getter. I stick to my guns in order to meet my objectives. I am constantly improving my fitness, building my endurance, and elevating my capacity to handle pain.
Don’t get me wrong, I mess up all the time. I am far from perfect but I am constantly working on refining those skillsets.
I look up to elite athletes who are leaders in their fields and I benchmark myself to them, even though in some instances my potential may never be able to match theirs, I appreciate the importance of having role models.
My goal posts are constantly moving and I am always investigating my own limits. No one loves a challenge more than me and I plan to exceed my own expectations when it comes to achieving goals – all of these are directly transferrable characteristics to my professional career.
With so many things on your plate, what are 2 – 3 struggles you face and how do you approach facing up to your struggles?
- Lack of sleep – I am definitely sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours daily. I am lucky to get 6 hours and some days I only get 5. I try to nap on my commute into work some mornings if I am really tired.
- Lack of recovery – trying to run when your legs feel like lead isn’t fun… doing burpees when every muscle is hurting from strength training isn’t ideal. But no matter how I feel, I get up, dress up and show up.
- Psychological factors – Feelings of guilt and performance anxiety. You can’t be complacent if you want to be at the top of your game.
WISE HK ran a survey in January 2017 where limited time and work pressures were the two most significant barriers to playing sports. Needing to care for family was also a barrier. What words of advice do you have for someone who’s struggling to incorporate sports and fitness into their life? How could someone build the habits that make sports and fitness a daily routine?
I would say that if you want something you will find a way to do it. We are all constraint but winners don’t make any excuses.
- I would highly recommend fitting in your training before work (this works well when you form a habit of waking up early and finish your workout before anyone else in the family wakes up);
- Work out on your lunch break – if you have a park, some open space, a playground, or a gym nearby, this is time-efficient and hugely beneficial in spiking your metabolism so you could actually have more energy for the rest of the afternoon. Even if you could only afford a walk, it’s a good way to get some sun exposure and stretch your legs, just make it measurable and accountable by counting your steps, schedule at least 20-30 of ‘active’ minutes, wear a FitBit, a fitness tracker, a pedometer or an app and introduce some hills or stairs as you get fitter;
- Make sports enjoyable – incorporate exercise into your daily routine with your children, your family, your friends and/or your colleagues. Play games, invite them to friendly matches or charity races, run around, walk the stairs in the building that you live in, join the company dragon boat team… the possibilities are limitless, be creative!