Temi Adeniji Reveals Her Secret To Staying Fit

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Partnerships

Warner Music Africa Managing Director Temi Adeniji has found a winning formula in a world that constantly demands more and more.

‘Work to live’ or ‘live to work’ – perhaps one of the modern world’s most urgent existential crises. Whatever your stance, this dichotomy informs your lifestyle and how you show up in general! Despite diverging views on the topic, Temi is sticking to her “active mind, active body, active spirit” approach. Her logic is simple. “There are so many things out of my control that can go wrong at any given time. I take comfort in the fact that I can always go on the tennis court or hit the gym as a way to clear my mind and check in with myself,” she says, adding that consistent exercise fuels her and provides a sense of balance and control.

A Princeton University graduate with a joint law degree from Columbia Law School and University College London, Temi transitioned from a “big law” firm in New York to climbing the ranks at Warner Music Group. Temi moved to South Africa from the US in 2021 to lead the company’s operations across sub-Saharan Africa and to develop and execute the company’s vision for the continent. 

Where did your love affair with all things fitness begin? 

My family moved from Nigeria to the USA when I was nine, and my dad kept my brother and I busy with sport. At some point, I was on the soccer, swimming and diving teams. Then in high school, I focused on volleyball and track. My dad intuitively placed a big emphasis on sport because he knew that the discipline you learn from it plays a huge role in how you approach other parts of your life. College was where I had to figure out what fitness meant to me outside of a team construct. In the time since, I’ve carved out a regimen that works for me, which includes a heavy dose of tennis. 

Photography: Kagiso Phaswana

How did you get into tennis?

I started playing in the middle of my divorce in 2020. I was living with my brother, who’s big on tennis. As you can imagine, I was oscillating emotionally; however, whether it was a good day or bad, we would be on the court.

Tennis provided an opportunity to ground myself in the midst of what felt like unending chaos. Learning a new sport or challenging yourself with a new physical skill is empowering in that it reminds you of the power of perseverance in the most practical and visceral way.

I’ve gone through different iterations of what physical activity means to me.

How does wellness help how you show up at work?

For me, the mind, body and spirit connection is the foundation of wellness – it is these three pillars constantly interacting with each other. I find balance from fitness. If I don’t allow myself the space to be in tune with my body, then it feels like I’m not operating at my optimal level – and it definitely affects how I show up for work as well as my interpersonal relationships. 

READ MORE: Yes, Happiness Can Boost Productivity – Here’s How

Amidst a crazy work schedule, how do you honour your fitness practices? 

Exercise, for me, comes before work – it’s a non-negotiable! I firmly believe that in order to perform at my peak, I have to be intentional and consistent. Fitness helps me develop my resilience muscle. It helps me do my work better, manage stress, set goals and manage my relationship with failure. I always say that what separates good and not-so-good leaders is the ability to perform in times when there’s a lot going on – and still be able to see the bigger vision. Exercise constantly reminds me that nothing comes easy. Things are not always going to be great but you have to keep going! 

What exercises do you swear by – and why?

I got into Pilates around 2018 and was doing it three times a week, along with lots of cardio. More recently, I work out five days a week and that’s outside of my morning walks (I try to get 5,000 steps in the morning, which doubles as active meditation and allows space for divergent thinking).

A year ago, I swapped out Pilates for pole fitness – and that’s probably the one exercise that has changed my body the most. It’s my holy grail now! I’ve developed a much stronger core. I’ve seen how much more engaged I am and it’s helped with my flexibility too! In order to exercise efficiently, you actually have to open your hip flexors and other parts of your body that don’t get engaged through regular exercises.

What are your non-negotiables when it comes to nourishing your body through food?

I’m not super strict with my diet, I just try to eat reasonably. I eat more carbs than the average person because I don’t touch any of the sweet stuff [chuckles]. A few months ago, a friend got me into a cycle-syncing diet where you eat certain foods during the different phases of your menstrual cycle to help with hormonal balance. I’ve been at it two months and it’s been really interesting to observe how it impacts my cycle and energy levels. 

READ MORE: 3 Superfoods To Add To Your Grocery List This Winter 

What motivates you on those days when you just don’t feel like exercising?

I give myself grace. If I’ve worked out three days a week and don’t feel like doing more, I find other ways to move my body and take advantage of the days when I have a lot of energy to do more strenuous activities. As a woman, where you are on your cycle impacts how much physical activity you can do and I’ve only recently started paying more attention to this connection.

Photography: Kagiso Phaswana

Best fitness advice you ever received – and who was it from? 

My younger brother, who played college football. He once shared a story of being at a mall where someone commented on his physique and asked what exercises he did. His response was: ‘This is a lifestyle. There’s no silver bullet. My entire life revolves around being active and optimising for my body to perform at its best.’

These words have informed how I think about fitness.

  • I try to integrate physical activity into my life in as many different forms as possible – I do pole, play tennis, run, do cardio and weight training as well.
  • I never want fitness to feel like a chore.
  • I never want fitness to just be about my body, but how it impacts my mind too.

Credits: Photography: Kagiso Phaswana | Wardrobe: Nike / Styled by: Eric Gyimah | Make-up: BK make-up studio

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