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Jan and Simone Vingerhoets share how they make it work.
Mornings at the Vingerhoets household in Brooklyn, New York are best described as a dance: When Jan steps out for an early-morning workout, Simone rouses their two kids, 9-year-old Malou and 5-year-old Kaleo, for school; a quick twirl, and Simone is out running while Jan cooks breakfast for the family. A few graceful steps, a kiss, and they’re out the door to work. After 15 years of marriage, Jan and Simone have mastered their lives’ demanding choreography.
“We maintain very detailed plans to ensure the kids are taken care of, work commitments are met, and we get our training units in,” says Simone, 45. “If one of us misses our training slot, we have to wait until the next one. This is a good motivator to get out of bed.”
Such structure is required for the busy power couple, whose days are jam-packed. Both are CEOs in the high-end European furniture industry—Jan at Molteni Group, and Simone at Ligne Roset. Their jobs are demanding and unpredictable, with clients and colleagues in 80 different countries.
“I never count the hours for work. What needs to get done, gets done,” says Jan, 47. Still, even amidst the bustle and variability of the day, the two prioritize time to connect – usually on side-by-side trainers in their home.
“Our date nights are swim, bike or run, and dinner afterwards,” says Simone, who met Jan through work and talked him into running the NYC marathon, then triathlons. “We enjoy training together anytime we can.” These date nights provide an opportunity to discuss everything from challenges at work to upcoming events at their kids’ school. When one has a particularly heavy training week for a race, the other steps in to keep the household running smoothly. Constant communication is key to staying in step.
“We are one,” Jan says. “Having the same passion in life makes things much easier. In work, we understand the challenges and opportunities one has. We know the demands of work, such as stress or travel. In training, we know not only the need to work out but also the need to be efficient.”
For the Vingerhoets, this means doing specific workouts with defined objectives. Most of their training sessions are low on time but high on intensity. Every minute of the workout is accounted for. This strategy has allowed them to train for everything from sprint distance to Ironman on less than 12 hours per week. Successfully, too: In 2017, Simone won her age group at the New York City Triathlon, and Jan qualified for the XTERRA World Championships in Maui. When asked what their secret is, Jan and Simone are quick to point to each other:
“It is a 360-degree partnership,” Simone says. “I have a husband, lover, friend, training partner—everything at once.”