Alaska sounds like the land of snow and ice to many – and even the stressors there must surely be totally different from the rest of the world, right? Wrong! People up in Alaska deal with the same pressures and challenges as anywhere else. Still, Alaska is a very unique place – and Firstbeat was thrilled to conduct an assessment project there, together with the Alaska Club, to find out what kinds of lifestyle issues people in Alaska deal with.
The Alaska Club is Alaska’s largest fitness provider with a network of locations statewide. As the premier fitness services and facility provider in the state, The Alaska Club is always on the lookout for new innovations and technologies. President Robert Brewster became interested in the Firstbeat method as such an innovation and wanted to provide some of the club’s corporate clients an opportunity to undergo the Firstbeat Assessment to explore how the clubs might offer the service in the future.
Patrick Curtis, Fitness Director at the AK Club, was part of the pilot project from start to end, from recruiting the corporate clients to taking part in the feedback sessions together with Firstbeat’s Wellness Specialist Tiina Hoffman. He found the method to be simple and easy to follow. Participants reported they were able to see very specific changes in the activities they were taking part in during the assessment, for example during different types of exercise or recovery activities.
“The results further confirmed the variety of components and influences in each of our lives that govern our response to stress, exercise and recovery. Firstbeat adds a great puzzle piece to put into the narrative about health and wellness and considerably furthers our understanding of how we recuperate,” reflects Curtis.
Several staff members at the club did the assessment, and in addition, the pilot group included corporate clients from a busy surgical clinic, an advertising agency and one of Anchorage’s most popular restaurants. Everyone wore the monitor for 3 days and nights and afterwards they received feedback about their results during group sessions organized separately for each corporate group.
All in all, 20 participants took part in the study. The group sessions inspired lively discussions, interesting revelations and individual insights. Some of the highlights included:
- A nursing mom who is back at work, but up several times per night, with little recovery in her days and nights, saw a nice green recovery segment every day when her baby was taking a nap. This confirmed to her that instead of using the nap time to get busy, she should continue to value it as an important recovery time for herself.
- A busy restaurant manager had little recovery during the work days, but on Saturday she slept in late and took it easy – and the report confirmed this by showing good recovery. She appreciated seeing the result and agreed that weekends are her time to recharge the batteries.
- Being clients of the AK Club, the group was well aware of the importance of exercise – and the reports showed e.g. hiking, running, biking to work, Zumba, badminton, gym… Physical activity points were even scored during lightsaber fighting (a dad battling his son) and rocking out on the dance floor! “This is a good reminder that exercise does not always have to be so serious, as long as it gets us moving and our heart rates up!”, laughs Hoffman.
- A couple of professionals at the advertising company reported feeling energized and more focused after a lunch-time Yoga class – provided by the AK Club – but they remarked how easily it gets scheduled over by other work demands. They set a goal to start scheduling the yoga as an actual appointment, so other events would not override it. “Prioritizing is important; life is a balancing act and sometimes we need to take active steps to recuperate and keep the balance right”, emphasizes Hoffman.
- Just like anywhere else, the Alaska group also discovered the detrimental effect that too much intensive exercise, especially in the evening, and alcohol have on their sleep quality. A good reminder to balance our weekly activities – and focus on high-quality sleep and recovery if top performance is needed the next morning.
The staff at the AK Club will continue some testing to see how the Lifestyle Assessment could fit into their offering. Patrick Curtis, Fitness Director, concluded that the Lifestyle Assessment provides invaluable information to anyone wanting to understand how their routines with work and family life both contribute to wellness and potentially create recovery needs we might not realize exist.
“It was also fascinating to see how individuals whose work and general daily journeys were similar but results varied in ways that told the person’s story vs. the their position’s story. It was very easy to see the value of the lifestyle assessment as an incredibly powerful tool for the individual wanting to learn more about how changes in their daily activities result in changes in their recovery and overall ability for optimal performance, particularly when paired with other forms of measurement and health-related metrics.”
“We are thankful for the opportunity to have partnered with Firstbeat for this pilot program to both see and learn more about the lifestyle assessment process in order to further consider ways this could enhance our offerings or serve as a tool and resource to our partners,” Curtis concludes.
“Exercise does not always have to be so serious, as long as it gets us moving and our heart rates up!”
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