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Being a corporate athlete: keep fit and grow fast

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There is an indisputable link between fitness and business. 

While a number of businesses are using it to their advantage, others are yet to incorporate it into their strategy. Perhaps it sounds like a tenuous link but I promise that if you take it on board, you will soon see the benefits on your bottom line. 

Some entrepreneurs and business people thrive under large amounts of pressure, whereas others whither. The ones that thrive are often both physically and mentally fit. 

In a paper by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, it is proposed that busy executives need to approach their jobs in a similar way to athletes, mastering the expending and recovering of energy in order to maintain peak performance over a long period of time. 

Growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want your company to last the test of time and your high-flyers to stay in the sky instead of crashing to the ground, then incorporating a “corporate athlete” approach to your business is a great idea. 

Loehr and Schwartz point out that many business people stress themselves too hard mentally and emotionally and not enough physically. 

People often talk of burning off tension and it’s true. Vigorous exercise makes you feel good. It releases endorphins and puts you in the right mind-set to perform at your best. I play squash to take my mind off problems or mental blocks and I encourage my team to do the same. 

At UKFast, I’m developing an on-site gym in order to make it easier for employees to get exercise. We have two personal trainers on board and we’re planning to install a steam room to aid relaxation. Another idea is to encourage clubs for employees, such as running or netball, and to promote their engagement in sports events such as the BUPA 10k. 

Sports and business really go hand in hand. It takes talent and practice to get to the top of your game in both of them and they require a competitive frame of mind. Business people need mental strength and, in my opinion, the best way to support this is by being in peak condition physically. 

I take groups of employees from UKFast to climb Mount Snowdon and people are sometimes confused as to why. Yes, it’s a gruelling physical task but it gets everyone together, out of the board room, and often, problems are solved whilst walking and refocusing energy in this way. Getting to the peak makes people realise how much they are capable of. 

It’s not just exercise that contributes to the notion of the corporate athlete. It involves giving your staff (and yourself) regular breaks (no eating lunch at your desk) to unwind. 

It also includes a healthy diet. We have a daily delivery of fruit instead of a vending machine full of chocolate and crisps. Healthy, energised people perform better and give better customer service. Members of our support teams have worked through the night by choice on occasion in order to resolve customer problems. They simply have the stamina both physically and mentally. In business, as in sport, a challenge is there to be taken.  

So, how do you do it? Incorporate health and fitness into your company’s culture and lead from the top, demonstrating your own commitment. Others will follow and you will see a more energetic, dynamic team in no time. 

Lawrence Jones is founder of server and cloud hosting provider UKFast, a Real Business Hot 100 company.

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