Live well, lead well

Achieving results requires leadership. This is, of course, the case in many areas of business, but it also holds true when striving to achieve results in health and wellness.

The BizTimes Fittest Execs competition, now in its seventh year, shines a light on how Milwaukee area executives are leading the way by making health and fitness a priority. A core principle guiding the Fittest Execs initiative is to promote health and wellness in the workplace, starting at the executive level.

Derek Deprey, general manager of the Wisconsin Athletic Club (WAC) and a speaker at this year’s Fittest Execs awards program, said executives can have a huge impact on a company by making the concept, “Live Well, Lead Well,” a “true corporate value, just like any other core value in a business.”

“Eighty percent of how a person views an organization is through the leader,” said Deprey. “If (an executive) is happy, energetic and positive, the organization is going to be happy, energetic and positive. Making wellness a priority is step one of that.”

Deprey challenges executives to make exercise and nutrition a priority in their life and work.

“I’m calling it the Fittest Exec pledge,” he said. “I want people to join me and take the Fittest Exec pledge, take the leap of faith, and add ‘Live Well, Lead Well’ as a core value.”

Not only does prioritizing fitness help executives themselves, said Deprey, but it can have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the company, and ultimately, on corporate wellness as a whole.

“There’s definitely a lot more interest in (wellness) now than five years ago when the Fittest Execs program started,” he said. “People are aware of it. A lot of companies are trying to have wellness committees. We’re at the tipping point of having huge results and I think this is the difference. It’s not just the WAC that’s going to have ‘Live Well, Lead Well’ as a core value, it’s going to be industries that aren’t health clubs. And if the execs say it’s OK, then it’s OK.”

For corporate wellness to take the next step, said Deprey, executives have to be the ones leading the charge.

“That’s what I think is going to be the make or break for corporate wellness – (executives) taking the leap of faith,” he said.

More than 80 executives from more than 25 companies participated in this year’s competition. BizTimes Fittest Execs includes both individual and team entries, and participants could be from any fitness level.

As part of the competition, participants engaged in a fitness test that includes body composition testing, a three-minute step test, a sit and reach test, a hand grip test, push-ups, and a “plank.” The Fittest Execs award ceremony also involves a “Plank-Off” competition, in which first place will win a one-year family membership to the WAC, valued at over $1,500.

In addition, Froedtert Health Workforce Health conducted a biometric test measuring total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. Results from these tests were compared to the national fitness norms for each category to determine participants’ scores.

Individual participants had to work as a CEO, CFO, COO, CIO, president, executive vice president, owner, partner, executive director, mayor, city manager, or city council member at a company or government organization with at least 20 employees in southeastern Wisconsin. Teams were made up of four-person groups, with an executive team leader.

The Fittest Execs competition is done in partnership with the Wellness Council of Wisconsin, and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Athletic Club and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

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