When you’re the co-founder of a wearable tech company responsible for making daily step counts a universal way of assessing activity levels, you’d better make sure you walk it like you talk it.
Which is why last summer, after years of keeping his workouts fairly on-brand (walking, and lots of it), CEO of Fitbit James Park switched things up and introduced weight training and fitness “snacks” to his regimen. The result: at 44 years old, Park dropped nearly 7kg, bringing him down to his current weight of 61kg. He’s feeling stronger than ever and has lowered his body fat by around 4%, according to the Fitbit Aria 2 scale in his apartment. “The scale is truth,” he says, “and I wanted to know the truth.”
Last year, he finally had time to stop and take a hard look at that truth about his fitness, as a result of the pandemic. Since founding Fitbit with Eric Friedman in 2007, Park had spent a great deal of time jetting to business meetings, product launches and late-night dinners. All of which created plenty of challenges, including allowing him time to get to the gym.
During Fitbit’s early years, he says, he “could never make [working out] sustainable”. As the company grew, things got easier, but Park still struggled to focus. “Looking back at old photos,” he says, “there are definitely periods that made me think, ‘I can’t believe I let myself go like that.’”
That changed when COVID lockdowns grounded air travel. Trapped at home, Park had some spare time. He thought back to his days as a student at Harvard University. While he’d never been overly swole, he had lifted weights with friends and fell in love with the bench press. Although he didn’t need that adolescent intensity anymore, the CEO did need workout “balance” in his life.
Park doesn’t grind out marathon sessions or work out with a trainer. Instead, he injects fitness activities throughout his day. He’ll take a few minutes to knock out some press-ups (as many as he can in two minutes – usually upward of 100), then hours later, return for a short abs session. (He’s currently addicted to a core routine he found on TikTok.) Last summer, after watching several videos of TikTok’s #airwalk challenge – which has people doing slow pull-ups while pretending to climb stairs in mid-air – he committed to mastering the gold-standard back move. He now does 30 to 40 pull-ups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Twice a week, he’ll channel his Harvard self too, doing biceps curls, shoulder presses and lunges with adjustable dumbbells, the only gear in his home gym. “It’s brutal for me,” he says. And five days a week, he’ll go for a run or a walk – old habits die hard.
“It’s not about vanity and appearance,” he says. “But I do look good, so what I’m doing is obviously working.”
Hit Your Core in 10 Minutes
If you want to try fitness “snacking” – that is, spreading your exercise throughout the day – you’re going to need a couple of quick go-to routines. This five-move circuit alternates between lower and upper abs. Perform each move in turn and repeat the circuit three times.
Overhead Crunch (12 reps)
Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat, arms stretched out behind you.
Keeping your arms in a fixed position, crunch your abs and lift your shoulders off the floor.
Reverse Crunch (12 reps)
Lie on your back, arms by your sides. Bend your knees and bring them to your chest by contracting your abs.
Lift your pelvis off the floor and squeeze at the top of the move.
Janda Sit-Up (12 reps)
Lie with knees bent and a small box or stack of books between your heels and glutes.
With your arms crossed over your chest, squeeze the block and raise your shoulders.
Frozen V-Sit (12 reps)
Lie on your back, knees bent, arms and legs outstretched, hands and feet slightly off the floor.
Simultaneously raise your torso and legs up towards each other and hold.
Extended Plank (45 seconds)
Get in a press-up position with your arms outstretched as far in front of you as you can reach.
Keep your back straight and hold this position for the allotted time.
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