Corporate Fitness: A Mind Game

Having reached the corporate office to conduct a training session a good 20 minutes before time, I had enough leisure to enjoy the everyday morning punch-in parade of the company staff. I was at the front office area of one the most reputed IT companies, with presence in 39 countries.

True to my professional seasoning, the obvious things my mind initially started data-feeding were the visual communications of the team-members as they walked-in, stepped ahead, punched-in and disappeared behind the glass wall in the labyrinth of cubicles. But as always happens in many of my silent observations, something new popped up — the tired laziness oozing out of their attitudes. From the sleepy eyed faces, to the bored expressions and lethargic walks; everything from their bodies to their attitudes screamed for freshness, energy and exercise. Out of the 200 something middle and senior management members and technical staff who walked in that day, I would say only about 5% looked happy and ready to be there that morning.

Young businessman looking stressed in office

. when the tiredness creeps in the cubicles .

I walked to the front desk and inquired if they had a fitness zone on their premises as many corporate houses nowadays boast of, and yes they did had one. Not to my surprise, very few attended it and it was usually found empty. They didn’t had the time or energy to work-out, was the answer to my next query. And I wondered how much productivity the company was losing on with the lack of energy so evident in its team. Throughout my session, the thought kept strengthening. It took about 15–20 minutes for the group to settle down and finally look semi-prepared to attend. The faces were dull, lifeless, expressionless and shockingly jaded. Had there been any other trainer with any less energy-level than mine, would have easily given up and dragged the session to finish line.

But I was not there for a finish line, I am never there for the finish-line; my purpose is to bring everyone up and ready for the starting-point. A starting-point to create the life you wish for, dream for — but seldom work for. (Quote: Me)

And so we started talking about fitness; the importance of exercise and why they do not have the time and energy for working out. As always, the answers were universal –

· Too much work, too much stress, too many responsibilities.

· How can you expect me to work-out when I have a project deadline to meet in 12 days?

· Where do you think is the time to work-out in between getting the kids ready for school, preparing breakfast and lunch for all and reaching for office on time?

· How can I use the office gym with so much work load?

· You can’t expect me to work-out in between office hours — you know you need to change clothes, get all sweaty, and then take a shower and then change in your office gear again.

· I feel tired and sleepy after working out, I can’t work-out in the office gym and then work at my desk.

· I always start with lots of promises and hopes, but then it never lasts.

Yes ! I know ! We have heard them, said them, and argued for them and against them a hundred times. For the people in the training room, and for all the minds reading this and arguing ‘for’ the excuses above, I have just one question –

“How do people who do exercise, do it ? — with the same set of responsibilities, same number of hours in a day and same form of life.”

We often argue that people in higher positions or more lavish lifestyles can include luxuries of working-out in their routines; but think for a while that maybe they are in that position because they have learned the art of managing their time and energy in the most efficient way. Coming back to where we started — Corporate houses need to start paying more attention to their employee’s health and fitness if they are looking for optimum levels of performance. And opening a gym on premises is not enough. There needs to be paradigm shift in the thought-process, inculcating a positive atmosphere and change in the mind-sets is more important. Bringing in fitness experts for an informative session, a personal trainer for some on-spot 15 minute work-out break, including stress-busting-get-up-jog-up activities in the day, are the demand of the lazing workforce. Innovation is required in the HR approach towards employee welfare. A healthy team-member is not only imperative for TQM graphs, but also for the overall well-being of the organization.


Young Hearts : Senior Citizen’s Day Out

sharing Smiles . cherishing Wisdom . creating Memories

12th April 2015. Brilliant smiles, happy laughter, soulful stories, words of wisdom, misty eyes, unshed tears; and a room full of young hearts bursting out in the gardens to play, dance, sing and enjoy life.

The Conception of Young Hearts

Arvind & Nutan Goel shared with me their plans of organizing a full day trip to Manesar, inviting all the senior relatives, friends and acquaintances they had the pleasure of knowing. They gave me the honour of joining in the trip, helping them plan and facilitate the day. I was mesmerized by their feelings, thoughts and the desire to create such an experience for people they knew or may not knew till then, an experience that might become one of the most cherished memory for everyone. Arvind and Nutan’s excitement caught on and we embarked on a journey of creating an experience unknown to the invitees and even to us.

Apprehensions gripped my thoughts when I sat down to plan the day for a group of about 60 people, whose age in the list given to me was ranging between 60-78. I felt immature and inadequate to facilitate the event for a room full of people whose wisdom and learnings of life was far beyond mine. Before I move forward, I would share that I have lived a very eventful and adventurous life in my 36 years. The lessons life has taught me have been far prudent than the ones I learnt during my years in Texas A&M University and Indian School of Business. And on the morning of 12th April 2015, I sat out on my own quest for knowledge, wisdom and lessons of life. The journey in the bus to Manesar and my interactions with a few endearing faces, wise eyes and welcoming gestures were enough to fill me with the energy and zeal I needed for the day. When I stood in front of more than 60 pair of eyes in the seminar hall of Manesar Resort, I knew they had put their trust in me for the whole day and I was filled with gratitude.

We started on a note where we felt as if we had known each other since years and soon we realized that there had been a serious mistake with the list; the listed age was incorrect, each member of the group was five years younger than me ! It was not only a happy surprise for everyone but more so for me, as the youngest person in the group was 19 and she was just 5 years younger than me. Imagine !!!!! my happy surprise.

A Forever Friend

Soon I had a new group of friends and we each had a new friend of our own, a friend with whom if we are all faithful, will always make sure that we always have a smile right on our fingertips. I could hear the sound of falling years, amidst the happy laughter and cheerful ‘hellos’.

The Outdoors

We the young smart ones, the organizers and volunteers, had planned a couple of activities thinking that maybe we will not be able to get everyone to play and participate. We were soon put to shame, when after just a little bit of coaxing we had everyone on their toes. Jumping with excitement to participate in the lemon race and then the musical partners (a version of musical chairs suggested by one of our happy volunteers). In every turn, we had more bright faces waiting to participate then we called for; the young hearts were full of eagerness, their feet forgetting the aches of old age, their bodies filled with the vigour they had bottled up. A bunch of impatient kids wanting to play and win. The winners were not the youngest of the lot from the list, but the ones who had shed the maximum years in the seminar hall before stepping out in the lawns.

Lemon race or musical partners – there were no barriers. Sarees, slippers, aching knees, sore feet, age, lethargy; there were none to be found. All we could see was happy hopping young souls, laughing with delight, pulling each other’s legs and screaming on their victories.

Inside the halls, we were all still spirited with our cheeks blushing with the happy rush of blood. The accomplished people sitting on the round tables in front of me, with their faces beaming with excitement had a lot to share. And we were eager to listen.

A Forever Love

The expressions became easier and the feelings found their way to words. The melodious rendition of ‘chupa lo yun dil mein pyaar mera ke jaise mandir mein lau diye ki’, by Asha Kanchan gave the environment a tender warmth, when she dedicated the song to her soulmate of more than 50 years, Mr. Rajendra Kanchan. She said that his simplicity won her heart. In return, he said that his world belonged to her and his smile stood witness to his confession.

We saw the contrasts of expressions of love. On the one hand, we had couples like the Kanchans and Jains singing for each other; and on the other hand we had the subtle acceptance from Mahesh Sir as he confessed that saying I love you, may not be the only way of expressing his love for his wife. And when asked what was the one thing that his wife did for him that makes him realize her love for him, he answered, “mujhe to lagta hai sote jaagte mere hi bare mein sochti hain, aur main bhi unhe hi sochta hun.” The most beautiful confession of love I have heard in the most subtle form.

Power of Emotions

Emotions were being accepted and we were not uncomfortable with our emotions. I mention this fact here, because I want to share with you while you are reading this, what I shared with my group of young and fun friends on 12th April 2015. Emotions and feelings are a part of human constitution, and it is very important for us to accept them and express them. Knowing you love your parents, your spouse, your children and your family is enough, but it is also important for you to express your love. An expression of love can alter your relationships, can ease your discomforts and open up channels of communication.

As I said, it seemed too immature to talk about their achievements in life to a group of people who had raised a generation and were an inspiration to the next. Instead I had decided to ask them something that will help us put our minds to peace and know what it was that mattered most to them and could possibly make them happier in this phase of life. The generation to which I belong – we are children and we are parents. Every day, we struggle with the fear and doubts of being a parent, whether we are doing enough and accurate for our children. At the same time, we keep wondering if we have liven up to the expectations of our parents and have we ever been able to make them proud. And this is exactly what we asked our guests to share.

Moments of Pride

The glow and warmth on the faces of my friends of a few hours with a bond of years, was surreal. I did not even have to hear their answers to know how proud they were of their children. Their personalities, their attitude towards life and their values were a proof that they had given the best to their children. The pride on their faces and their smiles in the current moment, were witness that their children were their priceless treasures. And here I share with you some heart-warming incidents that my friends shared with me, moments that made them feel accomplished as a parent and proud of their children.

Please visit our Facebook Page ‘Young Hearts’ for more pictures and to witness just a few of the gratifying stories shared by my young friends whose actions defied their age and whose smiles belied the challenges of life. Sharing this with you was a responsibility so you know you have been doing the right things. There is nothing more gratifying then a parent feeling proud of their child.

The  day  was  a  divine  amalgamation  of  fun,  feelings  and  fulfilment.

The organizers, Mr. & Mrs Goel deserve a long and cheerful round of applause for their efforts and especially the caring thoughts behind organizing an event like this. The volunteers did a wonderful job of cheering, assisting and unifying the activities. The greatest reward for me, were the hugs, the blessings and the tremendous amount of love showered by all the senior guests. I am grateful that life gave me an opportunity to meet such endearing respectful people and share with them a day that I will cherish throughout my life. Each hug, each blessing and each praise will remain with me forever. I will always be their friend, who many of them were calling “Smiley”.

I wish them all fun, healthy and gratifying lives. May they inspire generations and enjoy every moment of their lives with their life partners, families, friends and the Smiling friend at the tip of their index finger.

A soul humbled to the core with your acquaintance,

Iza Jameel