Fit for work: tips for a healthy work/life balance

George Flooks, COO of Fitness First Middle East, explains why physical fitness is so important for a successful career.

Peter Iantorno January 4, 2016

In the summer of 2015, George Flooks, Chief Operations Officer for Fitness First Middle East, set out a challenge to his team. The challenge was to train and take part in the Dubai International Triathlon, which took place in November 2015. In all, 50 staff members signed up, including Flooks himself.

The triathlon consisted of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and a 21km run, and while some staff  took on the challenge in teams, many committed to complete the whole event by themselves.

The training period saw the competitors getting up as early as 4:30am to train in the hot summer months four to five times a week, with groups meeting at the beach to practice swimming together in the ocean, and at cycling and running tracks around Dubai to train for the land-based legs.

“I was so inspired seeing all 50 of us on the day completing the mammoth and gruelling fitness challenge,” says Flooks. “We had strong winds making the waves choppy, the tailwind on the bike was one of the toughest I've ever encountered and the midday sun for the run was tough. But we all completed it, all the months of training ended in a hugely successful day.”

Dubai International Triathlon 2015.jpg The Dubai International Triathlon consists of a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride and a 21km run.

There's no doubt that getting 50 people from the same company to complete a triathlon is an impressive achievement, but does it actually have any benefit to business? Flooks think so. In fact, he is so convinced of the benefits of health in the workplace, that next year he plans to get at least 100 of his team to take part in the event.

We caught up with him to ask why exactly being physically fit is important for your career, and how we can maintain that all-important work/life balance.

Why is being physically fit important in the workplace?

Being physically fit has many benefits. It's not just about losing weight, getting stronger, or being fitter for endurance. A morning workout sets you up for the day, it leaves you feeling refreshed and full of energy, ready take on your day ahead whether that's in the office or a full day looking after your kids.

In the workplace, staff at Fitness First are required to do two workouts a week wearing our heart rate performance-tracking tool called MYZONE. The reason for this is that I want our staff to live our brand and experience what our members experience in our clubs. Our staff train together before or after work, which is a big motivation and it builds camaraderie.

Fitness First staff train together.jpg Training with colleagues helps build team spirit.

If you work out regularly, you'll be more alert and focused on your workplace. Your energy levels and endorphins will be sky high and your mental ability will be sharper. A fitter and healthier workforce is more engaged, efficient and performs better.

Tell us about your personal keep-fit regime… Can you run us through a typical working day?

I’m married with two kids. I wake up at 4am. I usually train for around 10 hours a week, most of which is spent cycling – I do at least six hours of cycling, a couple of hours of running and another couple of swimming. Sometimes I ride from Al Qudra at 5am when it’s still dark and do 100km on my bike or a long-distance run before coming to the office and starting a full workday.

I also combine this with overseas travel and doing some pickups for my kids at the horse riding and Jujitsu schools. I ensure I am eating lean and having the right number of vitamins afterwards. That’s not easy, but if you have a goal and you are committed to do it, then you do it. There is no better feeling than achieving your fitness goals and knowing that you are fit and healthy.

George Flooks Fitness First.jpg Fitness First COO George Flooks was one of 50 people at the company to complete the 2015 Dubai International Triathlon.

What measures can normal people take to ensure that they maintain their work/life balance?

It's really important to maintain this balance. Having a regular fitness regime will prompt you into creating a routine and not allowing yourself to work endless hours that are not healthy or productive.

I personally recommend getting up early and having a morning workout before work. By 7am you can be in the gym or outside for a run/cycle, by 8am you are done and in the shower and eating breakfast and you can be in the office before 9am. You feel wide awake, energised and ready for the day ahead. If I don't train in the morning, I feel that afternoon slump, but with a good workout I feel great and energetic the whole day.

For those who can't spare the time in the morning, a workout after work is great, too. You can avoid the traffic and head straight to the gym. You'll burn off calories and stress from the day and wind down ready for a relaxing evening and great night’s sleep.

It's also important at the weekends to switch off and take time out to relax. Spending time with your family or friends and maybe adding in some 'me time' for a run, cycle, yoga class, Zumba class, etc. It's all about having fun and doing what makes you happy.