No matter what your fitness regimen, chances are you’ve worked up a sweat on Precor cardio equipment and probably took the experience for granted while you caught up on your favorite TV show or podcast. Precor President Rob Barker and his team are the ones who sweat the details – like smooth ride and gliding functions – that we’ve come to enjoy in our workout.
Barker started working in the sports and fitness industry in 1982 after he realized that he could turn his passion for helping people experience the benefits of physical fitness into a career. We asked him for his professional and personal insights, now that he’s at the helm of a company that makes some of the most popular equipment in the gym.
24Life: What’s in your 24? Describe a typical day in your life.
Rob Barker (RB): I spend about three months a year away from home visiting the fitness markets around the world and attending Amer Sports Executive Board meetings. Consequently my day varies depending on where I am in the world, but when I’m in Seattle, my day starts by making a cup of English tea for my wife, then reading a book with my three year old daughter and seven month old son – it’s my golden 20 minutes.
Then, I usually sit in on virtual meetings with our Europe, Middle East and Africa team or parent company, Amer Sports. Once I arrive at our office, my day is spent meeting with our teams to track progress and guiding our teams’ focus for key areas, like new product development. Since we’re in the business of fitness, we have a nice gym at our offices, so I try and work out at lunchtime. My favorite place to work out is in R&D center on our next generation and possible future products that are still in development.
Nothing beats working out on products still in R&D to see if our consumer insights are coming to life. This includes our console and user interface development – the world of fitness equipment and personal electronics is coming together fast and this gives us and 24 Hour Fitness many more options in how we serve members.
After an afternoon of more meetings, I try and get home in time to help put the kids to bed, then start calls and meetings with our Asia Pacific team.
24Life: Where do you find inspiration for new ideas in health and fitness?
RB: It’s all about observing and listening to our customers and their members. Precor invented the EFX elliptical by listening to exercisers who complained about knee pain after running. We are constantly using our ability to gain deep insights in order to create new products and digital services that will get more people more active more often.
24Life: How do you achieve work/life balance? If you only have 24 minutes to exercise today, what do you do?
RB: I find it hard to work out three times a week-I always can put a session off until tomorrow. I find it easier to plan and commit to doing something every day in the triangle of family, personal wellbeing and work. I regard myself as a ‘corporate athlete’ and use the same principles around workload and recovery that you would have in a good exercise training program.
If I only had 24 minutes, I’d do either a treadmill interval session or functional core exercises – you can do a lot with a mat and a medicine ball.
24Life: What are you most passionate about?
RB: Helping people live the lives they desire through personal health and fitness.
24Life: What’s your bedside reading?
RB: Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, by Brad Stone. Amazon is not far from Precor in Seattle and it is an interesting company that started with one person’s vision of a completely new way of serving and delighting customers.
24Life: What do you do to relax or regenerate?
RB: Walks with my family and dog in the beautiful mountain forests east of Seattle.
24Life: What’s on your bucket list?
RB: The next big thing is the Coast to Coast Adventure race in 2016 for my 50th birthday. It crosses the south Island of New Zealand over two days of running, cycling, mountain biking, trail running and kayaking.
24Life: Do you have any advice for the world in one sentence, or a quote that’s inspired you most?
RB: I love the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling. I read it from time to time as it describes a way of being and going through life that I try and emulate. I feel strongly that you can always control your own personal performance, but will also have to deal with ups and downs in life along the way – how we do this ultimately defines us.
A quote that I live my life by is, “Find a job in something that you are truly passionate about and you will never work another day in your life again.” I feel very fortunate to be working at Precor in the fitness industry and for a global sporting goods company.