Friday, September 01, 2006

Executive Fitness for All

Here's an interesting article on Corporate Fitness from the Belltown Messenger.

In athletics, overtraining means you either are doing too much hard training or too little in terms of recovery-not getting enough food, sleep, hydration, time off-so you end up running on reserves and your system starts putting out more energy than it can generate. Most top athletes now understand this, and design their training schedules to give them regular time away from their training.

Yet in the corporate world, far too many have not learned this lesson. The ethic in so many companies seems to be that overworking and over-scheduling must lead to over-achieving-when in truth it leads to poor health, burnout and lack of productivity.

The good news is that some executives are creating a new corporate paradigm for personal health with business success.

One longtime client, a member of Club Zum and CEO of one of Seattle's more renowned companies, says his workouts are a crucial component of his workday. "It keeps me more relaxed," he confides. "I'm less stressed, I think more clearly, and it's a key part of my strategy for leadership by example."

Some companies (Patagonia is one) create unstructured working environments that allow employees to go sailing in the middle of the day if the wind is right-trusting the crew to get the job done later. They know the good health of the employee begets a healthy company.

But such companies are still the exception. Most still equate over-training and overworking with corporate success. If on-the-job performance and productivity are critical to your career, you might want to think of yourself as an "executive athlete" and start training or living in a way that supports your end goal, much like high level athletes do. Sleeping five hours a night won't do it. And neither will burying your fitness regime under piles of paper.

The successful executives I work with make the time-no matter what-to exercise at least four or five days each week. The one comment I always hear from them is, "I have no choice really-it's a key part of my workday."

And yet it's funny because there are so many who still say, "I don't have any time." When I mentioned this to a highly successful CEO recently, he shot back, "You have time. You have to make time."

What's required is a desire to feel good, or at least enough good sense to choose activities that give you energy, and make your day easier as well as more productive.

Indeed, you do have a choice. I encourage you to evaluate what you do that gives you the physical energy you need to make your life and job easier. The basic components are sleep, stress, food, and exercise. Start with the latter and find ways to make it happen on a consistent basis, cutting yourself enough slack to handle life's inevitable ups and downs.

Work toward exercising most days of the week within six months. If you're glued to your chair now, start by walking three times a week for 30 minutes. Within six months, you might shoot for four to five days a week, including one day of yoga, one day of strength training and three for cardiovascular training-each for 45 minutes to an hour. Consider this: Five one-hour sessions a week means you'll be using about three percent of each week's total time to improve your health, fitness, and on the job performance.

Just start now!

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