I once attended an Angel Summit seminar. The speaker, who himself was an Angel investor, said that what they want from their founding team is to live a, “Flat food lifestyle,” meaning that the only time they stop working to get food is when it’s delivered to them (in pizza boxes) and pushed under the door. He was exaggerating of course, but the expectation was still there. The audience in this seminar was a room full of startup founders who were hoping to learn how they might win over an Angel of their own one day. As an ACE certified personal trainer, the idea of negating the health of a team you’re investing in is not only disturbing to me but also bad for business.
Attending to proper nutrition and your physical health should be a priority to any founding team and their investors. Exercise should be looked at as preventative measures to stave off serious health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease (to name a few). Being in front of the computer all day can be addicting. You feel like you have a few more lines to code or a couple more emails to return and tell yourself you’ll get up when it’s done, only to realize that hours have gone by and your legs have fallen asleep. You’re going to have to do something about this and you might as well start now.
When you started your company you got into a headspace, a game mode if you will, that you’d be working all the time. Health and fitness is no different. You’re not going to randomly do planks at your desk unless you’ve mentally accepted the fact that staying healthy is essential to your startup’s success. So what to do? Get your startup employees involved in prioritizing their health and fitness.
Five Things Your Startup Can Do To Add Health & Fitness Into Company Culture
1. Reject flat food! Have fresh fruit and water nearby. Beer (oft the startup beverage of choice) makes stress worse in the long term and adds calories with no nutritional value that commonly go straight to your belly. Make good nutritional choices.
2. Start a plank challenge in the office.
3. Contract a local fitness instructor to come into your office and lead a session of yoga, barre, or pilates. If you can schedule a staff meeting you can schedule this. It doesn’t require a lot of space and gets the task done. I chose these three types of exercise because modifications can be made for all levels and ages.
4. Start your workday an hour later to allow people to get their workout done in the morning.
5. Buy company bikes to encourage people to ride to meetings, on errands, to lunch, or simply for exercise.
Investors Can Help Startups Become More Healthy
Investors! Exercise helps relieve stress, decreases appetite, and improves blood flow to the brain, which can help with cognition and memory. These are all good things! Startup life is stressful and by setting a precedent that you’re investing first and foremost into “the people” (as is often told by investors) then the people’s health should be important too. Help your startup team see how important health and fitness is to a company’s success and encourage them to make it part of their company culture.
Image Credit: Jeffrey Betts