Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the corporate world is difficult enough. Including a full work-out routine, or trying to fit in fitness in the working week is even more of a challenge, whether a junior staff member or senior executive. Yet when asked about the secrets to productivity, Sir Richard Branson has regularly recommended waking early and exercising. The Virgin founder, a keen runner and cyclist wakes daily at 5am, wherever in the world he happens to be, to ensure he has time to exercise.
Branson is not alone. This article on the BBC Business Website focused on many of the executives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, and found that many high fliers in the corporate world are also driven on the exercise front. And as the article states, “…it makes sense – the kind of drive, discipline and determination needed to push yourself to work out and compete – are exactly the same skills needed to get to the top.”
For example, CEO of Levi Strauss & Co, Chip Bergh is finding the forum frustrating. Why? Simply the lack of time to exercise – sounds familiar, and Bergh is a self-confessed sports obsessive, exercising for 90 minutes daily and competing in triathlons. And the man credited with the re-emergence of the Levi brand after struggles with competing brands believes exercise gave him the strength to make big changes in the company structure to improve performance. Not only that, but he set up a Live Well programme at the company including a cheap gym membership deal for staff and a nutritional onsite cafe at its San Francisco headquarters.
“I really do firmly believe exercise plays a part in performance….it’s not just the performance side of this, but the potential avoidance of costs,” he adds, referring to the potential savings in staff healthcare costs.
Businesses focusing on encouraging employees to exercise and maintain healthy lifestyles is good news for business focusing on fitness. The article quotes Nerio Alessandri, the CEO of Italian fitness equipment manufacturer Technogym, who says the fastest growing sales is to companies. And Alessandri practices what his company preaches, working out for an hour every morning, linking a healthy lifestyle to a healthy mind, leading to energy and productivity. His company’s head office in Northern Italy sets the example…meetings take place at high tables to force attendees to stand up, and chairs are replaced by Swiss Balls. And we’d always advocate the use of stairs over taking the lift if you’re trying to improve your fitness, well at Technogym the lift is banned unless the employee has a physical issue!
A regular location for political and business forums, Davos is typically gridlocked with traffic, so the WEF is encouraging delegates to walk instead of driving. And it appears to be working if the Tupperware CEO, Rick Goings is anything to go by. He’s made changes at his company’s base in Orlando, adding a fitness centre as well as biking and walking paths. And it’s no surprise he’s also a fitness advocate, with an hour’s workout every other day and boasting to be able to bench press his weight, all at the grand old age of 71.
Tim Maynard is the owner and Head Trainer at TM Personal Training.