17 March 2023

Body and mind at work: a wellbeing journey with our Sport Manager

The saying "sound mind, sound body" holds true, and we couldn't agree more. As a fast-growing company with a rapidly changing environment, it's essential for us to remain active, flexible, and energized to achieve our ambitious goals. That's why we provide allowances for sports club memberships or physical activities and even have our own sports club with a team of dedicated coaches led by our sports manager, Ariana Orphanides. We discussed with her a recent 6-Week Body and Mind Transformation Challenge that the team completed and asked her to share insights on improving physical performance, nutrition, and overall wellbeing. So let’s dive into some practical tips for a healthier and happier you.

As the sport manager and trainer at Exness, my mission is to help keep our employees fit and healthy. With multiple classes running throughout the week, I ensure the schedule runs smoothly, which is a crucial part of my job. Our team of coaches allows us to function as a department, creating sports events and special activities for our employees.

Why a company needs its own sport manager

I think Exness is very intelligent to recognize that fitness and work performance are closely linked. We're committed to helping our employees achieve a healthy balance between the two. Our goal is not to turn our employees into bodybuilders, but to support their wellbeing and help them perform better at work. With our team of coaches, we work to help employees manage their busy schedules and make time for regular training sessions.

Exness is at the forefront of this approach, and I believe that in the next 5 to 10 years, more companies will follow suit. Our approach has already received a lot of positive feedback from employees. Many have even credited their training with helping them advance in their careers. 

I've seen firsthand how training can help employees push past their limits and perform at their best. When employees feel safe and healthy, they're able to achieve more at work, which ultimately benefits the company."

I am proud to be a member of a team that supports our employees in enhancing their well-being and realizing their full potential. The Exness Way is all about maintaining a balanced approach in everything we do, which includes taking care of our personal well-being. It starts with taking ownership of our physical, emotional, financial, and social health. The company provides numerous opportunities to support this effort, and it's up to us to make the most of them, so we can achieve harmony within ourselves and with Exness.

Being a corporate trainer

The difference between being a trainer and a corporate trainer is that we work with people who don't necessarily have a specific fitness goal, like bodybuilding, calisthenics, or boxing. Our clients are hardworking individuals looking to unwind and get in a great workout during their lunch break or after work so they can return to their jobs feeling refreshed and energized.

However, our approach is no different than what you would expect at any other gym. We treat our gym as a community and our clients as athletes who are there to improve their fitness and wellbeing. We help them feel like they belong and are part of a community, even if it's just for an hour or half an hour.

Over time, we build strong relationships with our comers, which allows us to achieve even greater results. As they trust us more, they often turn to us for advice on healthy eating, feeling more energized, and staying motivated even when things get tough. It's important to us that they understand that we're here to support them in any way we can. This approach works wonders for us, as we see them returning, with an excellent retention rate that continues to grow.

The 6-Week Body and Mind Transformation Challenge

The challenge is a prime example of the types of activities we undertake as a team. We designed an educational journey that allowed our employees to unlock the secrets to reaching their full potential under our expert guidance. Our focus wasn't solely on their personal fitness goals but also on understanding the mind and finding a harmonious balance in their overall wellbeing. Working together, these aspects significantly impact performance and help to deal with pressure, emotions, and unexpected issues. Additionally, we wanted to give our employees an opportunity to test themselves and realize the importance of self-care in staying healthy, energized, brave, and active.

Each week of the program was representing a different aspect of wellbeing. We intentionally divided the program into 6 parts, making it easier for participants to comprehend each subject. Also, 6 weeks is short, yet long enough to make it a habit, build momentum, and apply what they learned under our guidance. We had 50 participants, and we did not just train but prepared a different theme and various events for each week.

Week 1. Motivation

During the first week, we focused on motivation. Typically, at this point, participants are highly motivated and eager to see results. Alongside our training sessions, we discussed the importance of motivation, how to understand it, and how to maintain it. By the end of the week, we emphasized that motivation is a limited resource and that it is crucial to find additional ways to stay driven. To further explore this topic, we invited a past participant to share their experience and the importance of embracing one's own motivators. Additionally, we started the week with a nutrition seminar that covered superfoods, calorie intake, binge eating, and mindfulness in relation to food.

Week 2. Courage

In the second week, we emphasized the role of courage in maintaining momentum. 

Participants needed the courage to get out of bed, come to the gym, train, and make healthy meals instead of opting for fast food. We wanted to move beyond just motivation and explain to them that it takes bravery to continue, especially as the challenge progresses and becomes more demanding."

To support this theme, we held a Q&A session to address important topics like nutrition, scheduling, and the frequency of training. (Hint: we recommend daily workouts!)

Week 3. Clarity

This week, we emphasized the importance of clarity in achieving our goals. Life can be unpredictable, and having a clear understanding of our objectives and motivations can help us stay on track when unexpected challenges arise, even if it comes to maintaining a gym routine. We kicked off the week with a meditation session to train our minds and improve our awareness, followed by a practical seminar on breathing techniques.

Week 4. Rationality

Here we focused on the role of rationality in making sound decisions. We encouraged participants to acknowledge and understand their emotions but not rely solely on them when making choices. Sometimes emotions can cloud our judgment, so we should step back and use logic and reason to make the best decisions. To reinforce this approach, we hosted a special event on food choices featuring a live cooking tutorial on preparing healthy alternatives, such as overnight oats, and insights from athletes on how they approach nutrition. We also did a tough team workout that culminated in an ice bath, which challenged participants both physically and mentally. Participants loved this adventure.

Week 5. Persistence

Our experience proved that week 5 is often the point where participants feel fatigued and may be tempted to give up. That’s why we stressed the importance of persistence in achieving our goals. It can take time and repetition to see results, so it's crucial to stay committed and keep showing up.

Week 6. Causality

During this week, we focused on the principle of sufficient reason or causality. We wanted our participants to understand that achieving their goals is not a matter of chance or luck but rather the result of putting in effort and creating the necessary causes to produce the desired effect. We emphasized the importance of recognizing that everything they had accomplished during the challenge was a result of their hard work, sweat, and tears. They made it happen. We hoped that this understanding would not only help them in their fitness journeys but also in other aspects of their lives, such as work, relationships, emotions, and decision-making.

To celebrate the end of the challenge, we organized a mountain run followed by a nice dinner at a restaurant. And then a very funny story happened. When the bread arrived at the table, everyone hesitated to touch it, thinking it might be a test." 

We reminded them that the point was not to completely eliminate bread from their diets but to be mindful of their choices and know when to indulge and when to exercise restraint.

Measuring the success of the challenge

To ensure measurable results, we carefully collected data throughout the challenge:

  1. Measurements. We took "before" measurements on the first day of the challenge and "after" measurements on the last day, including waist circumference, body fat levels, and BMA, which determines the water content of biomass.

  2. Performance. We tracked and recorded the number of repetitions for various fitness activities, such as squats. It didn't matter if someone could only do 0 reps on the first day; what mattered was their progress by the end. We were thrilled to see remarkable improvements, such as participants going from no running at all to running for 15 minutes at a steady pace.

  3. Pictures. We took photos on the first and last days of the challenge to visually capture the changes in participants' bodies.

  4. Feedback. Sure, participants experienced a range of emotions, including tiredness, anger, excitement, and uncertainty. However, what matters most is that some participants have since reported that they surprised themselves by opting out of Friday cocktails and prioritizing their health. We are pleased to see that they are more aware of their actions and that health is now a priority for them.

The balanced approach

At the heart of Exness is a balanced approach, and the challenge teaches participants how to establish one. Lack of self-care may lead to low energy levels, making it difficult to wake up, and unhelpful thought patterns may arise in the brain. If one's body and mind are not taken care of, productivity at work can suffer, and individuals may start to work against themselves.

The challenge helps participants to understand who they are, which is a big part of wellbeing. It provides an opportunity to step out, go in, and appreciate the time spent not just doing something but giving it their all during the training and seminars. When participants put their bodies through stress and difficult situations in the gym and fight through challenging emotions, they feel a great sense of accomplishment. This accomplishment motivates them to continue and keep other parts of their lives in order while also bringing fun, which is also essential for wellbeing.

How to start your journey of self-improvement

If you have ever had an aspiration to change something in your life in terms of self-care, consider these recommendations that we have tested through years of experience.

  1. Show up. No matter what the challenge is, just show up. Taking that first step can be the hardest, but it's essential to start somewhere.

  2. Understand how your body works on a daily basis. Many people struggle with performing different fitness activities like squats or push-ups. Bringing awareness to how you use squats in your day-to-day life and how your legs, core, and chest function in your daily routine can be very helpful.

  3. Don’t let the pain stop you. In the beginning, newly trained muscles hurt the most, and you need the courage to push through that stage. Remember that the effects and benefits are worth it. After 2–4 challenging weeks, you'll understand what is too much or too little for you, finding the sweet balance to avoid the pain of new muscles.

  4. Go gradually. Starting with 100% hard training, 5 days a week, from scratch is not the best decision. Instead, focus on just showing up, working up it, and not putting too much pressure on yourself. This way, you can build good momentum to stay on track longer.

  5. Bring love and compassion. You should do this because you love your body, not because you hate it. Falling in love with the process bit by bit will help you enjoy the journey, and the results will come in due time.

How to keep nutrition in order

We often receive questions about nutrition tips, so here are some important points to consider:

  1. Avoid emotional eating. Turning to food to deal with emotions can lead to binge eating, overeating, and negative impacts on your physical and mental health. It's important to recognize your emotions and find other ways to deal with them, such as mindfulness, exercise, or talking to a friend, to maintain a healthy relationship with food.

  2. Be mindful of your meals. Keeping it simple by following the rule of "if it comes from nature, you can definitely eat it, and if it opens or has labels, you probably don't need it" can help you stay away from fast food threats like chips or chocolates. Don't focus too much on calorie counting but instead, pay attention to the GMOs and chemicals that may be in your food.

  3. Cut down on sugar consumption. We should be aware of how much sugar we consume in fried foods, pastries, and fizzy drinks. Many of the meals we considered healthy before may contain hidden or liquid sugar, so it's important to reduce sugar intake gradually but steadily.

  4. Drink enough water. Not drinking enough water can hinder weight loss, building solid muscle, or feeling more energized. It's crucial to stay hydrated, yet many of us tend to drink loads of coffee and forget about water, which can lead to dehydration. While coffee is a good fat burner that speeds up metabolism, overindulging can lead to tolerance and ineffectiveness. Avoid relying on "magic pills" for weight loss that often just contain high amounts of caffeine. And prioritize the real magic drink—water.

If you'd like to train with Ariana and our coaches, we invite you to join their YouTube Channel, Alpha World Fitness. They've created a wealth of online workouts for our remote employees and anyone else who wants to keep up with their training, even when they're away from the office. With their workouts always at your fingertips, there's no excuse to skip a session. If you're up for a challenge, we encourage you to train with us. You can start with this easy-to-follow mobility routine:

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