Stressed, tired, over 40?

Written by Allan Gould

The intrepid world of the corporate executive: competitive, unforgiving, where only the sharpest minds survive. Reaching the peak of your professional, physical and psychological performance requires strategic solutions that produce real-world results.

So reads the promotional literature for Verve, a seven-month regimen of exercise, dieting, pill-popping and alternative therapies described by its providers as “a customized, age-reversing system designed specifically for male executives over 40 who strive for greater challenges and reward in their health, appearance, physical energy and sexual performance.”

Wow. Verve is the brainchild of Dr. Badri Rickhi, a Trinidad-born psychiatrist who has spent the past 25 years practising in Canada and working with the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, a collection of 22 North American medical schools focused on uniting traditional and alternative therapies. Meanwhile, he has run into countless high-strung, overwrought executives. “I kept seeing exhausted, angry men who were longing to live healthier and longer,” says Rickhi. So he applied his broad medical knowledge to create Verve — a for-profit enterprise he hopes soon to take into New York and any other city in which exhausted, angry executives toil. (A women’s program is in the works.)

Sign up with Verve, and you’ll start with an initial assessment comprising eight to 15 hours’ worth of appointments with various health practitioners (price: $5,000). Participants then undertake six more months (price: $1,500 a month) on a healthy diet (including supplements), exercise and visits to more therapists. (While monthly visits to a kinesiologist and five acupuncture treatments are compulsory, other treatments depend on each patient’s plan and progress.) Key to the program is a 25-minute exercise routine performed three to five days a week with 18-lb. and 27-lb. kettle bells (imagine teapots filled with lead, and you have the picture).

But does it work? Allan Markin, co-owner of the Calgary Flames and chairman of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., a publicly traded oil producer with 1,700 employees, was one of the program’s three pre-launch test subjects. “It took only the first two months to see the difference,” says Markin. “I sleep better now, and I wake up feeling happy.” Markin started the program on the antidepressant Zoloft; within three months he was off.

And the sex? Markin is coy: “The program does give one more hormonal power and strength.” Rickhi says improved bedroom performance comes as a result of hormonal changes triggered by following Verve. The better sex isn’t the only reason Verve’s tag line is “Go Vertical”: graduates have the option of climbing to the Mount Everest base camp with two-time summitteer Dave Rodney.

If you can’t get to Calgary, Rickhi says, the program can be offered in conjunction with therapists in your locale. For those who can’t or won’t cough up the $14,000, Rickhi offers this free advice: “Stress reduction is the key. Learn breathing techniques, such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness training. Proper nutrition is also important — and I don’t mean the Canada Food Guide.”

© 2004 Allan Gould

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