The real purpose behind this inaugural Fittest Execs program was twofold. First, we at Utah Business thought it was time for a bit of old fashioned physical competition. Just like a healthy BYU/Utah rivalry (but with less blood), we wanted to put the state’s most physically fit executives head to head in friendly opposition.
Second, and most importantly, we realize that fitness and health care have become of utmost concern among 21st Century corporations. Business leaders have realized that not only does fitness and healthy living translate to a more comfortable bottom line, but it creates a real sense of productivity in the workplace. Summed up, physical fitness in all its forms equals healthy employees who are able to handle the stresses of the job on a much more manageable scale.
“There are lists of hundreds of benefits of fitness that you can look at on the Internet, but the key is to get out and move your body,” says Mark Fuller, four-time Olympian and area manager of Golds Gym.
Because of these compelling factors, it is essential that corporations encourage healthy living throughout the organization, and there is no better way to accomplish that than from the top down.
“Executives are individuals who lead and direct large business efforts,” says Dr. Frank Yanowitz, medical director at the Intermountain Health and Fitness Institute. “The idea is the more fit the executive the more productive and able that individual is to encourage people working under him or her to excel, to improve their own health and fitness, to reduce health care costs of companies, and to enable people to enjoy their lives a lot better.”
Thanks to the team at the Intermountain Health and Fitness Institute at LDS Hospital, we were able to measure the fitness of the Utah executives who participated in our program. The details of that evaluation are listed below and profiles of the 2008 Fittest Execs are found on the accompanying pages.
They sweated, they strained, they sprinted. And in the end, it all paid off with victory. Take a glance at this year’s fitness champions:
Fittest Exec Over 50
Deborah Eppstein, President and CEO, Q Therapeutics
When Deborah Eppstein, president and CEO of Q Therapeutics, was in high school, the only sport girls could participate in was cheerleading, so she found herself cheering on the sidelines. The day she started at Grinnell College in Iowa was the day she found herself in the game. “I joined the swimming team, field hockey and even basketball,” she says.
And the game didn’t stop after Eppstein graduated. Today, her enthusiasm for sports and physical fitness is still strong, as she continues to challenge herself. “I have enjoyed hiking, biking and swimming my whole life, but not running,” she says. “When I was 52, I did my first triathlon and became hooked.”
To stay fit and ready to compete, Eppstein swims, jogs and lifts weights. She also finds time to do some light back country or skate skiing and snowshoeing.
Beyond improving her body physically, Eppstein says that exercising has improved her social life. “Certainly the health benefits of being fit are important, and it keeps me feeling and looking younger. It also has a social aspect, in having a group of friends at the pool or a training partner, and at triathlons,” she says. “Staying fit has benefits on my mood, my productivity and my ability to stay indoors at work on an otherwise beautiful day.”
To those who can’t get motivated to exercise, Eppstein says to find someone to share the pavement with. “Getting an exercise partner with whom you commit to meet at a certain time for an activity, perhaps starting with a hike in the foothills or bike ride in one of the canyons, can be a good motivation,” she says. “Also, I strongly recommend signing up for a race, that’s a wonderful motivator.”
Fittest Exec Under 50
Melanie Hamilton, CEO, Hamilton Insurance Associates
For as long as she can remember, Melanie Hamilton, President and CEO of Hamilton Insurance Associates, Inc., has been passionate about keeping fit. “I’ve always had too much energy,” says Hamilton. “I’ve always enjoyed physical fitness. I really got into it around age 12, when I started running, not competitively, but just for fun.”
Hamilton ran, played volleyball and basketball in high school and played basketball while a student at Brigham Young University. Years later, she continues to find joy in staying active. “I love to run, bike and swim. I also love to lift,” she says.
Though Hamilton says that physical fitness is a priority for her, she finds that there are days when she feels like being a couch potato. “I don’t always like to workout,” she says. “Sometimes, instead of getting to the gym for an intense workout, I just love to get out and get a good walk in. You just have to find what you like doing and give it your best.”
Hamilton says that beyond keeping her body in shape, hitting the gym regularly has helped her professional and personal life. “Working out has definitely helped me over the years,” she says. “As I’ve gotten older, physical fitness has helped my mind much more than my body. Working out helps me stay centered and present. It also helps me so I’m not worried and it helps me sleep. It helps me be the best I can be.”
Fittest Exec Over 50
Bill Cutting, Director of Brand Strategy and Partner, Vanguard Media Group
Bill Cutting, director of brand strategy and partner of Vanguard Media Group, describes physical fitness as an addiction. “I’ve always been into working out, even as a little kid,” he says. “It’s part of my life that I’m addicted to.”
Cutting says staying physically active has always been an integral part of his life, but he never considered himself physically competitive until recently. “I’ve always been active, but I never really excelled in any sport,” he says. “I started cycling years ago and really enjoyed it. In the back of my mind, I thought that I could do it competitively, but I didn’t know how to get started. I found a coach and have been a competitive cyclist now for about the last 10 years.”
Now that he’s found his competitive side, Cutting has a strict workout routine, six days a week. And though he’s occasionally tempted to skip a workout, he finds that he never regrets forcing himself to get moving. “There are days when you’ve had a hard day at work or you’re just stressed out and can’t get into intensive training, but what I’ve found is that if you just push through it, the intensity of a workout will blow apart any stress that you have.”
For those of us who find ourselves avoiding a workout all too often, Cutting says to find something you’re passionate about. “Find a sport that you love and push yourself through those phases of discomfort,” he says. “Physical challenge is a metaphor for personal challenge. If you can push yourself physically, you can push yourself through life’s other stresses.”
Fittest Exec Under 50
Joe Morton, Co-founder and President of International and Distributor Relations, XanGo
Joe Morton, co-founder and president of international and distributor relations at XanGo, says that while he’s been active since his childhood, it wasn’t until recently that he truly began excelling in physical fitness. “About eight years ago, I realized that although I enjoyed playing sports like hockey, softball and basketball, they were not the same as when I was younger. I wanted to find sports that I could do the rest of my life that would allow me to compete against myself and maintain optimum health.”
Morton accepted his self-induced challenge, and began training for and participating in triathlons. Now Morton follows a strict regiman of lifting weights six days a week and trades off between swimming, biking and running. To keep things fun, he mixes in an occasional hockey game or hits the slopes.
While Morton says that he, too, feels the couch calling at times, being involved in triathlons motivates him to keep moving. “There is no cramming for an Ironman,” he says. “I am driven to do my best. I cannot put my head down on my pillow at night without having worked out.
“Being active helps me achieve balance,” he adds. “There is no point for me to build a great company if it is at the expense of my health. It also helps me to be a better husband and father. I have more energy and feel younger due to my exercise regimen, something that is very needed being a father of three boys...I cannot teach goal setting and goal achieving to my employees or children if I am not personally doing the same.”
Up For the Challenge
The following includes brief descriptions of tests performed for our program. For more information on these and other test, contact the Intermountain Health and Fitness Institute at LDS Hospital at (801) 408-1100. Where applicable, the tests were compared to normative data based on gender and age.
BODY COMPOSITION ANALYSIS
The Bod Pod measures body composition using air displacement plythysmography. It is based on the same whole-body measurement principle as hydrostatic weighing. Instead of water displacement, it utilizes air displacement in its measurement of lean body mass and fat mass.
• Waist circumference is measured in inches at the top of the hip bone (iliac crest).
• Fat deposited in the abdominal area has been shown to increase risk for cardiovascular related diseases such as, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.
BMI (Body Mass Index)
• BMI measures body size utilizing a height to weight squared ratio.
• This test is primarily designed to measure hand and forearm strength and is not necessarily representative of total body strength.
Biodex Strength Measurements
• The Biodex unit measures strength of particular muscle groups through an isokinetic range of motion. The subject moves the arm of the unit through a given range of motion (i.e., elbow flexion and extension; knee flexion and extension).
• The peak amount of force the subject is able to produce through a given range of motion with maximum effort is recorded and compared to other subjects based on the weight of the individual. The larger a person is the greater the amount of force they are expected to be able to produce.
Sit and Reach Test
• Flexibility is measured using the Sit and Reach test. This simple test is designed to assess flexibility of the hamstrings and low back musculature.
Treadmill Fitness Test - VO2max
• VO2max is predicted by using a nationally validated treadmill protocol. The subject walks on a treadmill staring at a given speed and elevation. Every three minutes the speed and elevation of the treadmill increases. The test continues until the individual reaches volitional exhaustion.
• The VO2max, which is a measurement of how well the body utilizes and distributes oxygen to the working muscles in the body, is estimated by total treadmill time. VO2max is the best indicator of a person’s cardiovascular fitness.
• Blood pressure is measured using a standard sphygmomanometer. Blood pressure indicates the force generated by the heart as blood is pumped from its chamber (systolic blood pressure) and the pressure within the heart chamber when the heart is relaxed (diastolic blood pressure).