All posts in Fitness

The Frontier Fitness Week

It’s been just over a year since we started our Fitness Initiative (which you can read about here). How did we do so far?

Well, in a word, meh.

Wait, let us explain…

Initially, team members were encouraged to start activities that contributed to their fitness and they did! Several team members joined gyms, took up yoga or just started walking more.

Day 2: We went Cycling/Running

But we believe that no one likes to be forced to do something they don’t want to do and when they are the results are, generally, not great.

So, we put it to the team. We asked each team member if they’d like to “opt-in” for our fitness initiative and this worked out better than expected – only one team member opted out.

 

Working together vs. working alone

Things were moving (get it?), just not enough – and we think we figured out why.

Yes, all team members were encouraged to start some fitness activity individually, but that takes a lot of motivation and effort. We decided to try out group activities, where the team could share each other’s motivation and get moving! (A little bit of friendly competition didn’t hurt either!)

Day 3: More Badminton!

We started small, scheduling weekly walks/runs (again, attendance was voluntary). While motivation was lacking, we figured what you won’t do for yourself, you will do for others. In that light, we asked the team to use our weekly walks as “training” for an upcoming charity run.

This worked out initially, but attendance waned after the charity run passed. We realized that walking wasn’t the kind of exciting “sport” that had people raring to go each week. So, we decided to get a few more options by calling for suggestions from the team. After too many a few anonymous internal surveys, we had a list of activities that the team would like – ranging from badminton and football to cycling and Zumba.

 

Day 4: Because no one wanted to take pictures at Zumba

Enter the Frontier Fitness week.

We decided to try a few of these activities, over the course of a week, during the holiday period in April. As an incentive, we decided to treat all qualifying team members to an unhealthy pizza extravaganza a dinner at the Hilton and with a walk around the Colombo Fort area. How do you qualify? Well, here were the rules:

  1. There will be 5 core activities. Team members need to attend at least 2 of these to qualify.
  2. If at least 3 team members attend all 5 (only one of us did), they would get another treat.
  3. Team members are free to organize their own activities as well.
  4. Each activity needs a minimum of 3 team members to qualify.

Overall, the fitness week was a success!

We played badminton on two days, went cycling, took yet another walk and even tried Zumba! Badminton took the cake, in terms of attendance, but cycling and Zumba were rather popular as well.

Day 5: Rounding it out with a jog!

The fitness week gave us a better understanding of the types of activities the team prefers and has really helped us plan out our future fitness activities (we’ve sprinkled in a few Badminton games amidst all the walking now – #progress).

 

Health is more than just exercise!

We also broadened our vision from just fitness/exercise to overall health. In that respect, we partnered up with Hemas. In case you haven’t heard, Hemas recently released an online “Wellness” platform – offering everything from medical checkups to activity tracking on one platform, with a monthly subscription. We’ve been using the said platform for a few months now and, while the activity tracking hasn’t kicked off with us, we recently concluded our first medical checkup through the platform and came away rather satisfied.

 

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for our next update on the Frontier Fitness Initiative!

 

How to Improve Your Job Performance in Two Seconds

Could the answer to being more productive be as simple as fixing your posture? Well, yes!

This week we look how your posture affects the quality of your work and what you can do about it:

 

Posture matters more than you may think. In fact, there’s evidence that whether you sit up straight or slouch affects the quality of your work. That means, depending on how you hold yourself, there could be huge differences in how your body operates, which could have major implications for office workers looking to boost their productivity.

One key change that occurs when you sit up straight or stand: Your heart rate goes up about 10 beats per minute, providing a possible improvement in reaction time and attention, according to [retired ergonomist and human-performance specialist, Max] Vercruyssen.

He suggests adjusting your posture or standing up straight when you have a task that requires extra attention and focus. Just don’t expect it to be a cure-all: Any posture-related changes to your performance are likely to be most noticeable when you’re exhausted or coming out of a post-lunch slump.

Ergonomics is all about trade-offs. According to Vercruyssen, the more comfortable we are, the easier it is to crash, lose focus, and possibly even doze off. Vercruyssen suggests balancing this trade-off by sorting and scheduling your tasks by difficulty. If you feel like you can stomach the discomfort of standing or sitting up straight for only short bursts, use this time take on your most taxing projects. If there’s something you could do in your sleep, that’s a good time to get comfy.

In a series of studies, Erik Peper, a professor of health education at San Francisco State University, had participants sit in various positions and then asked them to recall either negative thoughts and memories or positive and empowering ones. Slouchers had a harder time recalling the positive thoughts. The good news: Peper found the opposite effect to be true as well. Subjects who sat up had an easier time recalling positive and optimistic memories, and just 30 seconds of skipping in place was shown to markedly improve mood and energy levels.

 

And there you have it, the secret to being productive – sit up straight!

For more on the connection between posture and productivity, visit Bloomberg.

Catch up on your favorite Friday Focus in our Archives page!

Frontier’s Fitness Initiative: How we plan to tackle fitness in the workplace.

One undeniable truth is that a company’s greatest asset is its employees. This is something that we choose to strongly believe in. As such, we’ve implemented policies like flexible work hours (where employees can work at hours (or places) that suit them) and even a choice-based environment (where employees are empowered with self-management, rather than micro-management). However, in recent times, we’ve come to realise that because a lot of our work is sedentary, it leaves much to be desired in terms of staying healthy.

Our CEO, Amal Sanderatne, holds staying healthy as an important part of his life (and an important use of his time, for which Frontier’s flexible hours is a huge help to him!). Yet we realise that some of our policies to create a flexible work culture can work against a broader goal of having a healthier team.

For example, while most modern offices are hardly conducive to a healthy lifestyle, unless you make a conscious effort to be healthy, working from home will likely give you even less opportunity to hit the recommended level of physical activity as employees even lack the physical exercise derived from travelling to and from work. Working in your pyjamas may not be everything it’s cracked up to be, health-wise at least!

Furthermore, given our choice-based environment, our team members have the choice of how to use their time – what happens if they do not view health as being as important a use of time as our CEO? Yet, we understand that if this choice leads to an unhealthy team (as it very well could!), it would affect our underlying purpose of providing great work in a “life first” work environment.

However, we’re not the first to see these short-comings – other firms that believe in an open-culture, such as Aetana and 37 Signals, have taken to offering incentives to motivate employees to focus on their health. Frontier hopes to follow in their footsteps, with our own little twist. We don’t hope to become competitive with our health initiative – we’re not gunning for the “Fittest team in the country” award – we just want Frontier to be a better option than the alternatives our team members could have chosen, in this regard. We don’t want to push (read: force) team members into becoming healthier, instead we want to encourage them to do so. Our goal here is to be a positive driver for healthy living!

One of the ways we’re looking to do this is through something we call T-Pay. This is a form of “bonus” (but we don’t really like that word, so let’s call it T-pay, that’s T for Thrive/Training). This can be considered a sum of money that Frontier will give team members to spend on their health. However, this is a relatively new concept to us as well, so it’s going to need some more planning in terms of budgeting, transparency and how we’re going to handle the payment (i.e. either cash or incentives like subsidized gym memberships).

Even though we haven’t figured out the mechanics of T-pay yet, we’ve taken our first baby step in our health initiative. We’ve planned to have some group sessions with a professional trainer and even had our first session just last month. Our team, all geared up in sportswear with exercise mats on tow, headed to the infamous Torrington. This baby step turned out to be an eye opener for many. The lunges turned out to be not as easy as lounging. Post all the complaints of cramps and hate towards the trainer, the team realized that they were not as “young and strong” as they thought (quite to the shock and dismay of Amal). We also realized that getting a medical check beforehand and planning it out as appropriate to each person maybe a better way to start, given the varied levels of fitness in the team.

But overall most team members realized they would need to put in a lot more hours to avoid future adverse implications to their health. All in all, it served as a good first start and provided the team the motivation to keep at it.

We continue to be inspired by a new global movement of businesses who are all passionate about re-defining work so that it helps people thrive, and a healthy team would be a key part of it.