Fatherhood: A Man’s Ultimate Rush

Posted on Jun 21 2008 | Filed in: Active Achievers

(Published in the Lifestyle section of Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star, June 15, 2008)

Real fathers back their words up with action, and thereby set the example for their families to follow. The truth of this comes out in the life and work of Mark Ellis, as a look at his life will show. Mark Ellis is no less than the Country Manager of Fitness First, a chain of upscale fitness centers in Metro Manila. And as befits a leader of an organization such as his, Mark is also a triathlete — a serious competitor in the age-group divisions of his chosen sport. Mark is also a family man; husband to his wife Doray, also a triathlete, and a committed father to two lovely daughters, in whom he works to inculcate the values of the active life and the love for family.

The passionate professional.

Mark puts great value on the things that truly matter, like his work. “The benefits of exercise on a scientific side have been proven” he says, “I define exercise as a feeling of well-being. It’s from within, should I say, and not this outside image that people have. It’s that rush you get from exercising.” And beyond the inner rewards of active living, the parallels between life and sport are not lost on Mark. “Most people are quite competitive, our society makes us competitive in the things we do and certainly, sport is a great way to be competitive. Often in work, you’re striving to achieve goals, targets, budgets. In sport or in exercise, you also strive to achieve a goal, achieve time, achieve a result. I believe that both in exercise and your work you’ve got to be continuously setting yourself goals.”

And the results speak for themselves. “My triathlon experience has made me a better leader at work. It teaches discipline, it teaches you patience, it teaches you commitment, it teaches you focus; all those are key components that make a good leader or a good manager.”

The committed competitor.

Going deeper into his attitude toward the sporting life, the natural winner in Mark emerges. “I am personally quite a competitive person. I like to win. My goal is to always get a podium finish for my races. When I go out to race, I’m really psyched up, committed, driven to achieve that goal.”

Speaking about what the most important lesson the triathlon has taught him, Mark expounds on a value all true fathers must have. “Probably the most important thing it’s taught me is the word, ‘commitment’. When you commit to do it, it means other things like discipline, focus and priorities all come into play. It has taught me commitment in other areas of my life like marriage, my children, my job. It means, starting something, and taking on the obstacles in front of you, but never losing sight of what you’re working towards.”

The full-on father.

When asked about what things, besides triathlon, give him a rush, “Spending time with my family is the absolute thrill for me; My week wouldn’t be complete without them.” These are among the “small wins” that truly matter the most to Mark, as he explains, “Small things often go unnoticed, or they seem unimportant, but they really do create the ultimate win. Just spending time with my kids for example, gives me a rush because I like to let them see that I enjoy being their father.”

But of course, triathlon isn’t all about intense competition. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have fun,” Mark says. “We have fun, we meet some great people; triathlon has been great for me, with my wife because it’s something we do together. And I can talk about spending time with my family; we train together, so that’s quality time for us.” And, sharing a story about the time he and his whole family joined a charity event, Mark says, “We got the little girl in the stroller,” he says, “we brought the dog along as well, and so the whole family was out doing a 5k run.” Fatherhood, then, is close to the heart of what Mark holds dear, as seen by how he cherishes time with his children. “I want to be part of their lives. I want to be hands-on, I want to watch them grow up. I really want to encourage that time we spend together. There’s not always enough time to spend together during the week because I’m working, so weekends for me is really a sacred time.” A sacred time for the rush of fatherhood.

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