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Employees of iPM getting started with vitality
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Employees of iPM getting started with vitality

There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for staying vital

To stay vital, you need to find a balance in exercise, relaxation, and nutrition. It is an individual matter, but it helps if we all get started on it together through a vitality program, thought the partners of iPM Partners.

“The better our employees’ vitality is while serving clients, the higher the quality of our work becomes. Therefore, promoting vitality is in the best interest of our organization. Additionally, it is also in the best interest of our employees themselves,” emphasizes Robert Bukkems from iPM Partners.

Last year, the partners of iPM made a firm commitment to prioritize the vitality of their employees. To support this initiative, they sought the expertise of Paul van der Weerden and Teun Custers from Naturally Healthy/Knowledge Center in Someren. They were invited to develop a program. Bukkems knew them as the driving force behind the successful project Natural Movement (of which Bukkems is an ambassador), which encourages students to engage in physical activity. “I was very impressed with their combination of knowledge and practical advice.”

Noticing that it works

In developing the vitality program for iPM Partners, Paul van der Weerden utilized insights he gained from Natural Movement. For example, he learned that participants must immediately notice the effects. Those exercise classes work so well because students notice that it works for them. For instance, they experience how movements like rolling on the ground can enhance their concentration. Neurological research shows that you can strengthen your focus by rotating your body ten times to the left and ten times to the right.” 

According to Van der Weerden, a vitality program for a company should also directly align with the work situation. An example is the warm-up routine I developed for a construction company, where employees engage in physically demanding work. Everyone understands the need for warming up before a sports performance. However, it may feel unfamiliar in a work setting. Yet, it can be highly advisable. If you start the day feeling stiff, the subsequent physical strain becomes heavier. For Van der Weerden, it was also crucial that the program be tailored to the individual. If you want to motivate people to change their behavior, it must resonate with the person. ‘Why recommend fitness if someone has no interest in it?”

The vitality program for iPM has adopted a holistic approach, encompassing all three pillars of vitality – exercise, relaxation (sleep), and nutrition. Bukkems states, “We want our colleagues to start thinking about what they can do for their own vitality. To encourage them in this process, we have also given them a Fitbit watch as a gift. With this, they can measure values that provide insights into their health, such as sleep duration.” According to Bukkems, everyone needs to find their own path. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for staying vital.”

The better our employees’ vitality is while serving clients, the higher the quality of our work becomes.

Robert Bukkems

Personal vitality checks

The vitality program of iPM kicked off with a plenary session for all employees. During this meeting, employees were given practical advice. The answers they provided in a quick test served as a guide for this. Later, three workshops were held on exercise, nutrition, stress, and relaxation. And for those interested, three different specialists from Natuurlijk Gezond offered the option of receiving personal vitality checks afterward.

One of the iPM employees who embraced this approach is Mark Wilde. With a full-time job and three children, he finds himself in the midst of a busy life. Wilde mentions that he found the advice on nutrition and its relationship to concentration at work highly beneficial. He also learned how to relax better. He provides an example: “I had a tendency to isolate myself from my family when working from home, but it created unease. I received advice to take occasional breaks and consciously spend that time with my family. It helps me be more productive when I return to work.” According to him, the vitality checks with the three specialists from Van Weerden are motivating. “You see very clearly what you can improve. In my case, it became evident that I need to exercise more. Deep down, I already knew that, but now I can no longer ignore it.”

The vitality program came at a welcome moment for iPM employee Michael Akudaman as well. “I was going through a busy period in my life, partly due to pursuing an MBA program and taking on demanding assignments. Amidst all the busyness, I had to prioritize, and unfortunately, the gym had to be sacrificed.” However, Akudaman had to pay a price for it. The long days, long car rides, and lack of exercise took a toll on his back, resulting in discomfort. What appealed to Akudaman in the program was the ability to work on the three pillars according to his own judgment. He did not want to change his unusual sleep habits—three hours being sufficient for him to function well. However, he wanted to learn how to improve his movement and nutrition. In terms of exercise, he considered walking. An extensive physical test on a treadmill revealed that his fitness level was lower than he had anticipated. “I relied mainly on willpower while exercising.” He received a training schedule that excluded long runs or interval training to prevent excessive recovery time. “Additionally, I received tips on getting out of the car.” 

Regarding nutrition, the timing could be improved for Akudaman. “It turned out that I was eating fairly healthy foods but at the wrong times. I had replaced chips with fruits, but I was eating them in the evening. It is better to consume building blocks rather than fuel during that time. So now, I eat cottage cheese in the evening and fruits in the morning. And during the afternoon car rides, I snack on nuts.”

Added value in the work

Akudaman asserts that the program not only contributes to his physical and mental well-being but also adds value to his work. “I bring these insights to the organizations I guide. It helps in discussions about a healthy work climate within organizations. Everything revolves around balance. For organizations, it’s the balance between customer satisfaction, quality work, and a financially healthy organization. For vitality, it’s the balance between fitness, relaxation, and nutrition. I have now regained that equilibrium.”

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