Zimmerman Advertising president incorporates fitness in and out of the office

Jim Donnelly, Image Masters, courtesy

As president of South Florida-based Zimmerman Advertising, Pat Patregnani knows all about making an impact.

Outside the office, he cycles competitively and is instrumental in not only keeping himself healthy but others as well. Under his leadership, the agency created zMotion, a cycling club focused on exercise and philanthropy. Today, the club has 230 employees plus 550 non-employees who live throughout South Florida.

The ad agency also recently sponsored the Zimmerman MS Bike Ride. Patregnani cycled 75 miles from Homestead to Key Largo on a Saturday, and back the next day.

Why do you keep fit?

For a lot of reasons, including a healthier lifestyle. At my age, you're dealing with individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol problems. They all affect your quality of life. I didn't want to deal with that.

Plus, you look better and feel better. With the high stress in my industry, it's almost a necessity to keep fit. It's a younger person's business, need to be spiritually and physically fit.

What exercises do you do?

I'm a cyclist, what you call a master level racer. I race in the 55-plus class in the USA Cycling point series.

You're always working out, seven days a week, training five days and racing on the weekend. Weekdays are your recovery rides. Weekends, you're performing at all-out effort.

During season, [I train] up to an hour and a half, but out of season, I'm riding three to six hours per day. As a working man, you have to break that up with a couple hours in the morning, then after work and extra on weekend. In the off season, your regiment changes to the longer-duration rides and less intensity. You also work in some gym time: squats, leg presses, curls, everything to strengthen your lower body.

When is South Florida's cycling season?

The spring season is April through June and the winter season is September and October.

Do you train on streets or on stationary bikes?

All on the street.

Why did you get so involved with cycling?

I've been cycling going on 10 years, not by coincidence but by design. I also quit smoking 10 years ago. My daughter went to a science fair and saw a black lung and said, "Daddy, you have to stop smoking now. That black lung is going to kill you." A lot of people who stop smoking gain weight, eating to replace that smoking. I gave myself a fitness challenge. I lost weight, gained muscle, started riding a bike. Changed my whole lifestyle.

Do you ever take extended breaks from your workouts or for holidays?

No. Holidays are the best time to ride.

Zimmerman Advertising sponsors cycling fundraisers and has a cycling program for employees. Why is there so much focus on the sport?