Fitness enhances job performance


As an executive running a small boutique financial services firm, Dan Detlaff sometimes finds it hard to step away from work and go to the gym.

However, for the 43-year-old president of Dettlaff & Company Inc. in Brookfield, once he’s finished with hismid-day regimen that consists of swimming, weight training and running, he finds that he is able to approach work-related issues with a different outlook.

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“I find I have a clearer and sharper mind in handling both day-to-day tasks, as well as those that require more mental ‘work’ or thought,” said Dettlaff, who describes himself as a financial adviser and relationship manager. “It becomes much easier to work with others, handle stress and be more efficient. Once you pull yourself away, regardless of all the fires that need to be put out and the people and items that require your attention, you’ll be so much better off when you return.”

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As a former high school wrestler, Dettlaff still maintains a 29-inch waist. While smaller in stature at 5 feet, 6 inches tall and 145 pounds, he said maintaining the 29-inch waist is a constant goal — one he maintains by doing 50 to 100 situps and 100 to 150 pushups before leaving for work every morning.

“I just have more energy — not just physically, but mentally — and find myself being able to make sharper, quicker decisions than when I am running myself down,” Dettlaff said. “I just know I personally feel so much better when I have had a workout sometime during the course of the day. I like to get my workout in around mid-day, because I start to drag a bit late in the morning. After that, I am up and raring to go for the rest of the day.”

Dettlaff said working out creates a better attitude toward his personal and business relationships, and promotes easier relaxation in the evenings and throughout the day.

“I have a clearer and sharper mind in handling both day-to-day tasks, as well as those that require more mental ‘work’ or thought,” he said. “It’s much easier to work with others, handle stress and be more efficient.”

Peter Gottsacker, the 54-year-old president of Wixon Inc. in St. Francis, believes that physical and mental fitness are tied together.

“If I am not active physically, I am less active mentally and up for the job,” said Gottsacker, who leaves his food ingredients company to work out at Bally’s over the lunch hour. “I know that when I come back from my workouts, I am active and engaged and more full of energy than when I left.”

As the lead executive, Gottsacker’s approach to fitness has rubbed off on his employees. Wixon ran a “Biggest Loser” weight loss contest, and the company recently went to a smoke-free environment. However, beyond the tangible results, the focus on physical fitness boosts morale and has become a focus for employees.

“I think they take an active role in their own fitness,” Gottsacker said. “We have fun with it here at the company. I believe you need to ‘walk the walk’ for your employees. It helps in motivating them to get and stay fit.”

Jay Koenitzer said exercise is something he has continued since playing competitive basketball in college. The 46-year old vice president of marketing for Helwig Carbon Products Inc. in Milwaukee said going to the YMCA has always been a priority for both him and his wife.

“I find that I can maintain a higher energy level,” said Koenitzer, who gets his workout in early before work. “I can perform at a higher level due to the physical condition I am in. Rarely if ever do I miss work due to sickness.”

Helwig Carbon products has made improving the health of its employees part of its overall strategic plan. The net effect is that it has reduced the manufacturer’s overall health care costs, and has made employees more health conscious.

“My philosophy is that even a bad workout is better than no workout at all,” Koenitzer said. “I have found that once you develop the habit of getting up early and working out, it comes more naturally.”

Having competed in three Ironman triathlons, Chris Carman knows that any goal, no matter how seemingly large and unattainable, can be achieved when you break down the goal into small, manageable goals.

“This has transferred to my professional life with the business owners I work with,” said Carman, 36, owner of ActionCoach Business Coaching in Elm Grove. “I encourage my clients to dream big, then we create a plan to execute on that vision for their company.”

During his peak training season, Carman is either running four to eight miles, biking 30 to 50 miles or swimming 1,600 to 2,000 meters, six days a week.

“It makes me feel good knowing that I am living by example for my children,” Carman said. “I love that they are growing up in an environment where physical activity is the norm.”

For those who want to get started on an exercise plan, Carman recommends signing up for an organized event coming up this summer such as a run, a bike ride or a triathlon.

“Put it on the calendar, pay the admission fee and commit to it,” Carman said. “Once you have made that commitment, there is no going back.”

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