Last week Firstbeat hosted a couple of international events in Helsinki. First, a group of our partners from 9 different countries and all the way from Brazil gathered together for our annual meeting and the next day, about 100 people attended a seminar “Getting the Balance Right 2”, with expert speakers from around Finland and Europe. Participants came from more than 10 countries, providing a lot of good discussions and networking opportunities. It’s always beneficial to hear and share views from different places, both to highlight the similarities and learn to appreciate cultural differences.
This was already the 3rd annual meeting of the international Firstbeat team! New features and user tips in both sports and lifestyle were shared, and during a workshop exercise, the focus was on the key topics and needs of product development, sales, marketing and lifestyle assessment operations of each partner. Discussions together as a group and individually keep us all on the same page, bring out different viewpoints and help us become a truly international company! After a long productive day of meetings, most of us got together for a run around Seurasaari – in shorts or jeans if running gear had been left behind! Various levels of EPOC and training effect was accumulated and the run was followed by sauna, avanto (‘a hole in the ice’) by a few and a delicious dinner of Finnish delicacies at restaurant Lappi. So busy was the day – and so hard was it to get a few people out of the sauna! – that we even forgot to take a proper team photo.
Getting the Balance Right 2 -seminar was held the next day and our international Firstbeat group was joined by a large group of participants from around Finland and a few additional countries, with representatives from occupational healthcare, private well-being / coaching companies, research, human resources etc. Most of the presentations are available on our website, so I’ll just focus on some highlights and interesting picks here.
Simon Shepard’s (Optima-Life) presentation discussed global trends in well-being and performance, with interesting results from lifestyle projects conducted in the UK. A very thought-provoking part was this ancient quote from Plato: “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it“. A strangely familiar problem still today! Just consider recent publicity about the harms of sitting too much… How little has man has learned over centuries!
KIHU’s Esa Hynynen shared some results from the world of elite sports, where the balance between the right amount of stress (overall load) and recovery is of crucial importance for top performance. His final slide showed the word Stressed … (read backwards) = Desserts! The point being that in our effort to find the right balance, whether we are athletes or ‘regular’ people, we need to take good care of ourselves, and sometimes that means enjoying ‘the good things’, in appropriate dosages!
Susan Kallio from Diacor emphasized the importance of personal feedback and reflection to help people make appropriate micro decisions to improve their lifestyle and Harri Lindholm from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health took us beneath the surface to show some results of stress measurement studies in different occupational groups. Firstbeat’s presentation shared some experiences in conducting the Lifestyle assessment to large groups around the world and showed a few practical examples about how to make the process easier and more scalable.
In a potpourri of experiences from other countries, Gergely Vada from Fusion Vital raised an important policy-level topic that has come up in Finnish companies too: the need for 50-minute meetings. When meetings are scheduled for a full hour, people constantly have a feeling of being behind and this poses a challenge when trying to learn to manage our days better. Ole Petersen presented the Fitimjob Energy assessment model with a nice scale for interpreting the results (to replace the more boring good – moderate – bad): Balanced – Stretched – Struggling. Jarle Holt from Segmentor AS showed examples of top Norwegian athletes who utilize Firstbeat’s recovery analysis in their training – and reminded about the similarities – and lessons to learn – between athletes and regular people.
The day ended with Ilkka Korhonen from Tampere University of Technology talking about using new technologies to change bad population behaviors that are basically killing us – and about how to translate understanding into action and concrete behavior.
His presentation was followed by a panel discussion, where Firstbeat’s CEO Joni Kettunen prompted experts from several countries to discuss corporate needs for wellness programs. The audience had a lot of questions and in retrospect, we should have allowed more time for this very valuable exchange of ideas! One of the issues was the concept of stress: why we use such a negative word and how can we turn the attention to the positive. Several excellent concepts and terms were raised, for example performance and productivity as the focus of the assessment and capacity to face challenges, alertness and impact of life as actual synonyms for stress. In the end, it’s probably not the word itself, but how we package the product and make sure the right message gets promoted: Getting the balance right and encouraging people to tackle their lifestyle in a positive way!
Thank you everyone and see you next time!
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