advertisement

Health & Fitness

How foodie CEO keeps fit at 60 while still enjoying juicy steak

Ole Sereni Group general manager Karl Hala during a workout at the hotel’s gym. He loves using the cross trainer and stationary bike as well as doing Pilates. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Ole Sereni Group general manager Karl Hala during a workout at the hotel’s gym. He loves using the cross trainer and stationary bike as well as doing Pilates. PHOTOS | DIANA NGILA / Francis Nderitu | NMG 

Karl Hala, the general manager at Ole Sereni Group, says “fitness is good, but so are eggs.’’

The 60-year-old is a foodie.

“I’m a culinary bull. That’s why I have to work out. When I want to eat something, I eat it. I sometimes regret when I roll out of bed in the morning and decide no stepping on the scale today!”

He loves Viennese cuisine which has kidney, dumpling, liver, boiled beans, sweet bread and spleen. He eats lots of juicy, medium-rare steak and fish.

But how does he watch his weight? “If you can’t stop eating what you like, eat half of it. I love coffee and I have had to reduce my intake and instead I drink a lot of water. I take three to five litres a day,” says the Austrian father-of-four.

Regular exercise

Every day, Mr Hala does floor exercises at home for about 20 to 30 minutes. He does them in the morning and at night. At the gym, he uses the cross trainer and stationary bike.

‘‘My wife says I should walk on the treadmill instead, but I always say “I’ve walked the whole day. I also lift weights to form the body just so when somebody squeezes my muscles, they doesn’t think they bought a packet of butter,” he chuckles as he starts on his second latte. 

Even though he has a gym at home, he does Pilates exercises once a week, every Tuesday at the hotel’s fitness studio.

‘‘Pilates is fantastic. It gives me a deep stretch for my back. The body is stretched, formed, toned, challenged and suddenly you walk more straight. You know us men, we don’t always have the best posture, Pilates helps with this. It straightens you up and you feel different,’’ he says.

He not only exercises to stay fit, but also to keep up with his family.

“My family keeps me pretty busy too. I must admit, I have a very energetic wife and children. My wife is from Uganda, and we’ve been married for 28 years and blessed with four kids aged 18, 16, 13 and 11.”

Even though he has a gym at home, he does Pilates exercises once a week, every Tuesday at the hotel’s fitness studio. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Even though he has a gym at home, he does Pilates exercises once a week, every Tuesday at the hotel’s fitness studio. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

The happy-go-lucky general manager started his career at Vienna Intercontinental, before moving to Munich Holiday Inn and founding the first American club in Munich.

The hotelier clinched his first C-suite office in 1990, managing Zambia properties for his former employer IHG where he worked 35 years.  

Active mind

To keep his mind sharp, he plays Sudoku and learns how to do new things.

‘‘I also do homework with my 11-year-old daughter and I must say Math with her is a serious challenge. (Laughter) In our days it was much easier,’’ he says, adding that he believes power is not in the muscle, but in knowledge.

“I’m interested in how people do things. I once did cupping {an ancient therapy where they use special cups on your skin} at Safari Lounge and loved it, also the other day I went to Farmer’s Choice to see the whole abattoir process. You have to keep your mind fit.”

On running a company like Ole Sereni Group, Mr Hala says a boss has to look five years ahead, not just a month or three and work towards making a change, or the change comes from the team.

‘‘When you do that, don’t forget that your team comes first. Without the right team, there can be no change,” he says.

The hotelier emphasizes regular doctor’s check-ups and ranking exercise among things you do everyday.

‘‘Most executives or my age mates say, ‘‘I’ll make the time to exercise, tomorrow I’m going to work out.” But when it comes to the day, you find an excuse not to.
Trust me, I could find excuses galore, but I still do it. It’s self-discipline. You have to stay young and fit.”

advertisement