Friday, June 28, 2013

Playtime

Recently, Innovative Fitness Sports Training teamed up with the 60 Minute Kids Club to provide sports training and conditioning at a local elementary school's health and wellness day. As we generally train youth sports teams who are working to improve in their sport, it was a nice opportunity to work with the the general population of youth and see how they respond. The main take-away we had from working with a few hundred kids: Shouldn't all kids be exercising daily or just playing around more?



After speaking with Gillian, the 60 Minute Kids Club leader, we agreed there is a definite problem with our youth today not being engaged the same way that we were engaged in physical activity growing up, be it through sport or just general play time. Here are some examples of things we've noticed that need to be addressed

1-Accessibility to sports venues, play areas and parks.

Growing up, I remember being able to get on my bike and ride to the park and play until 6 pm each and every day before dinner. The perception from parents now is that their kids have to be in kept in sight and monitored at all times, this leads to kids staying home and sitting in front of the TV or computer.

Suggestions:

-If there are issues with letting your kids go, be the one to take them to the park or pool where they can play.
-Create groups for the kids, a buddy system or group buddy system. They will be more into playing if their friends are involved


2-Youth are distracted

It may be in the form of video games, TV, movies, and computers. But the emphasis has shifted from sport/exercise to a more sedentary form of entertainment. As technology improves, more kids have iphones, facebook accounts, and PS3's (soon to be PS4's) then ever before. Many would rather play their DS then go outside and swing a bat.

Suggestions:

-Limit screen time. Look at what the 60 Minute Kids Club does. It puts a limit on screen and video time.
-Make outdoor/indoor play mandatory: 60 minutes a day, every single day
-Play with your kids. Yes get off your ass and do it. Plan around it.
-Parents, be active yourself. Lead by example. If they see you doing it they'll be likely to want to join.



3-Not challenged to be better physically/mentally

As school programs continue to cut and restrict physical activity in classes, youth are not given the opportunity to develop physically. More and more emphasis is put on the class room and studies, while exercise and physical activity are forgotten, which is a huge mistake. Many things I've learned in my life have been learned through sport and taught by people who wanted me to get better (coaches). Can you imagine what your coach would do if you showed up late for football practice, or let down your team if you were lazy and took a play off? Sport teaches us about discipline, accountability, structure, perseverance, determination, etc (I can go on and on and on). As well, the camaraderie that is build between people participating in sport as they grow up together lasts forever. Many of my best friends in life I have met through sport.

Suggestions:

-Teachers/parents get involved in programs like the 60 Minute Kids Club or enrol your kids in sports programs, training programs or even after school programs.

-Kids take the time out to thank your coaches and parents for the time and work they put into you. The majority of coaches do not get paid for their time and do it because they want to.

4-Eating is terrible

In our program at IFST we ask our athletes to keep routine food logs to address the issue of poor nutrition with today's youth. You would be shocked if you were to read what these kids eat on a daily and weekly basis. When we look at what kids are putting into their bodies and combine with with a general lack of physical activity, we can see why a big number of them are overweight. It is not entirely their fault as our society has made fast food and bad food cheap and easy to get. Yes we all lead busy lives and there is not always a lot of time in the day to prepare meals, but that does not mean our kid's nutrition needs to suffer, plan better in advance when you know you will be rushed so you don't have to hit the drive-thru..

Suggestions:

-Parents lead by example.
-Clean out your fridge. Get rid of all bad foods. Start fresh.
-Change your diet before you try to change your kids.



5-Parents are too tired

I can't tell you how many times I have read our athlete's food logs that have them eating Tim Horton's or McDonald's breakfast sandwiches for their first, and most important meal of the day. This is not their fault but the fault of the parents for not putting adequate time into preparing the food for their kids to eat that day. Yes, it is way easier to stop off at Tim's and buy a meal than it is to prep it the night before or get up and make it that day, but over time this is leading to more and more overweight and obese children.

Suggestions:

-Ok parents, your child's nutrition is your responsibility so let's make it happen.
-Prep meals the night before.
-Grocery shop for the week. Make healthy meals ahead of time for lunches and dinners.

6-Youth and Parents are not educated

How many parents realize that it is almost better to skip your morning meal then to buy an egg McMuffin in the morning? Parents are not always educated on nutrition (yes I'm now defending the parents). Eating healthy can be very costly, that same apple that costs 25 cents at Safeway cost $1 at Choices when it is grown organically. It's easier to feed a family at Taco Bell for 12 bucks than it is to get fresh meat and veggies from the butcher and farm and then cook them.

Suggestions:

-Research to learn more. There are many specific books on children's health and nutrition that will provide a good start.
-Try "The Silver Spoon" by Amanda Grant or "The Whole Family Cookbook" by Michelle Stern




Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The real reason why our kids quit sport.

 
What do you reckon is one of the main reasons most kids quit sport? While you're pondering, let's absorb this stat from the US: Each year 20 million children register for baseball, soccer, football, hockey and other competitive sports; about 70 per cent of those will quit by age 13.

Also according to the National Alliance for Sports, these kids will never play those sports again. Never.

Pass another doughnut and plonk them down at the computer screen until it's time to take them to hospital in a specially built and reinforced obese person's ambulance. Never is an awfully long time.
While you are standing on the sidelines of the cricket/netball/hockey/rowing this morning before you drive off to another sideline on the other side of town, do you think your child will be among the 30 per cent who stick at it?

Well, going by research, if you are a yeller, probably not. Children hate mothers and fathers behaving aggressively on the sideline of junior sports events, especially their own.
So, how's that new barracking rule working for you? You know the one where some sporting codes have introduced lollipops for parents to put in their mouths because their barracking became so out of hand and abusive.

I met a man in the butcher's shop (where all good gossip happens) and he's talking about his latest efforts coaching junior teams for his three kids - rugby, league and hockey. This is an intelligent, skilled, thoughtful junior coach out there in the nice suburbs of Brisbane.

"Every weekend I am called a f---wit and even a c---, on the sideline, in a carpark full of Mercedes and BMWs. Even in front of their kids."

Parents. We're just fantastic creatures, aren't we? We tell our kids how much we do for them, driving them everywhere for sport, buy all the gear so they look like mini-professionals - 10-year-olds in $300 boots and top-line $150 compression gear "to reduce lactic acid and muscular fatigue" - and what's it all about really?

If we're honest, it's ego. Not the kids'. The parents' ego. Deep down, if we interrogate our motives, what starts off as wanting our children to be active and learn to love physical activity can sometimes morph into something else.

What's all that hoopla about sons in the first XI and first XV stuff? Yes, it's admirable to strive to sporting excellence. But when I first moved to Brisbane and realised actual grown-up men were standing around at a party talking and obsessing over that kind of thing, I had to check: "You are talking about your KIDS' sport, aren't you?"


When I was growing up, parents mostly didn't really hang around. They dropped you and went off to take care of the other 10 kids in the family. Or did other grown-up things like earn a living, shop for groceries or go to the pub.

Mostly we played sport unwatched. The ref wasn't screamed at and abused by hostile parents. We played our sport for ourselves - basically for the fun of running around a paddock with our mates. And it was bloody fantastic and enormously freeing.

Someone who has spent his life playing and coaching sport and pondering how to retain young athletes in sport for life is Peter Gahan, head of player and coach development with Australia Baseball, after years at Queensland Academy of Sport. I rang him to pick his brains about kids and sport (in a month of Bernard Tomic's father assault charges and Nudgee College's steroid scandal) and to ask: "Where has all the fun gone?"

Fun needs to be at the very heart of sport, says Gahan. Even at the elite level, he says, research now shows all athletes need a fun activity in their training session. He says countries must walk the fine line of wanting elite sportspeople while encouraging mass participation.

"Research looking at 8000 schoolchildren in the UK revealed that the perceived lack of competency and ability stopped them from playing. They wanted to impress and look good but they couldn't, they gave up," Gahan says.

He says New Zealand has introduced a fundamental movement skills program in primary school with a sports officer in those schools to oversee the program.


"It covers 14 basic skills including running, hopping, throwing - the basics that are age-specific from Year 1. From what I hear, New Zealand is going to start kicking our arse at the next Olympics because, with this program, they will have a greater pool of athletes to choose from coming through."
He sees the obesity epidemic as entirely avoidable.
"A lot of the research on childhood obesity points at the fact that the kids are eating the same amount of calories as their fitter counterparts. They are just not moving. They are sitting in front of a TV or computer."

So, why do most kids quit sport? Well, one of the main reasons, apart from the obvious ones - didn't like the coach, not enough time, too much pressure - is one parents don't want to think about: The car ride home.

The car ride home after playing sport can be a game-changer. Whether you are five or 16, the journey from ground to home can be a non-stop parent teaching moment.

Whether you've played well or lousy, your dad can let you know what you should have done.
Should have run when you should have passed, should have kicked.

He becomes one of those shoulda- coulda-woulda dads.

Mum goes off about the netball umpire, bitch, and your coach not giving you enough playing time, cow. Yep, that car ride home can be pure joy.

If you can, try not to stuff up the car ride home, Gahan says.

The car ride home is when the kid just wants to quietly let the game sink in - whether a win or a loss.
They know if they've played well or badly. You don't need to tell them. The car's a pretty intense closed environment. They can sense your every thought, disappointment, anger, even a bit too much pride. It's all there, crowding in. Every sigh, every shrug is amplified.

So, I ask, what do you say on the car ride home?

Gahan says: "What about, 'geez, I love watching you play out there'?"

Email Kathleen Noonan

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Secret to Delegation

While most everyone in business would agree that delegation is critical to managerial success, how often are we dissatisfied with the results of what we’ve delegated? How often is the “product” that is returned to us not exactly what we’d hoped for? While this is sometimes the fault of the person of completing the assignment, it’s often the fault of the person giving the assignment. And there’s a common root to the problem.

One word, sums it up: clarity. (Or lack thereof) 

While those executing an assignment have the responsibility to deliver a professional product, those making the assignment have the responsibility to ensure that the assignment is crystal clear. 

Following are four common areas where it can go astray.

Clarity of objective – What exactly is it that needs to be done? Is an assignment as clear as it ought to be?  Does the required work need to be a paragraph? A page? Slides? A 20-page report? And analysis of what? Sales? Earnings? Market share? Distribution? Advertising? All of the above? Who knows? All you really know is that the project is important and the delegator is anxious.

Clarity of responsibility – Without a clear project lead, what you’ve mostly been handed is a recipe for confusion.

Clarity of time – A deadline for when the project needs to be completed is a must. Without a timeline, there is no guarantee that it will meet the deadline expectation – which in most cases can impact other aspects of the project being delegated.

Clarity of communication – So often what is intended to be communicated by one person is not actually what is perceived by the other. So often projects (and relationships, for that matter) fail because of faulty communication. 

There’s no guarantee you’ll end up precisely with what you want, but you can improve the odds.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Congrats Mudder Packers!

Congratulations to those of you who completed this weekend's Tough Mudder up in Whistler!

If your shoes are salvagable, try Nikwax's Shoe Cleaning Gel to get them back to some resemblance of their original colours. But remember, never place the shoes in the dryer or it will cause them to unglue and the EVA foam/rubber to break down.

If it's probably time to finally replace your mud packed shoes, visit any Kintec location or our online store where you'll find a wide variety of shoes such as these zero drop Women's Altra Torin, the colourful Men's Pearl Izumi N1's, and many more!




 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Muscle Cramps

There are three main causes of muscle cramps:
  1. Lack of Magnesium: Improper Calcium to Magnesium ratios do not allow an active muscle to relax.
  2. Dehydration: Dehydration can cause a decrease in blood volume, resulting in inadequate flow to the muscle.
  3. Electrolytes, such as Calcium, Chloride, Sodium and Potassium imbalances: Nerve stimulation and muscle contraction rely on exchanges of electrolytes across nerve and muscle cell membranes.  Electrolyte imbalances decrease electrical activity in the muscle and therefore the muscle may not return to rest after activity, as it should.

Some great ways to avoid cramping is through prevention. Stay hydrated and consume adequate amount of minerals on a daily basis. 

Potassium
Avocados, lima beans, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, fish, apricots, spinach, almonds, apple cider vinegar
Sodium
Celery, unrefined sea salt, sea veggies, many other foods
Calcium
Green leafy veggies, turnip, broccoli, almonds, brazil nits, figs, dairy, seeds, kelp
Magnesium
Whole grains, dark green veggies, molasses, nuts, seafood, legumes

Keeping hydrated for anyone is important and especially important for those who are very active. Nearly seventy percent of the human body is water, and almost all bodily functions, from transportation of nutrients to the elimination of toxins, happens in a liquid medium.

When being active, adequate amounts of water are critical for optimum performance. Those who drink water while they are active, approximately 1 cup ever every 15-20 minutes, will be able to last longer than those who do not consume any water. Although they may be able to continue activity without consuming water, their performance will likely be compromised and their recovery slower.

Even slight dehydration can affect mental ability and muscular strength. When you lose around 2% of your body weight in sweat you will feel weak, breathing will become harder and muscle fatigue may set in. Losing 5% may result in rapid breathing, abnormally fast heartbeats and loss of concentration. More than 6-8% may result in death.

To stay hydrated and avoid getting cramps you should avoid soft drinks, artificial sweeteners and consume beer and wine in moderation. Coffee and tea remain controversial, but they do have a diuretic property.




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pay for Performance & Common Sense Logic.



We begin consistently across three of the four foundations of learning with reading, writing & arithmetic and a simple algorithm.

  1. receive the knowledge +
  2. practice the materials +
  3. demonstrate we can apply the materials (test) =
  4. receive the accompanying grade (aka: school adjective for pay)
*note – we do not deem health (from an early age) worthy of a foundational pillar or performance metric because that would infringe on people’s rights. Tell them they’re dumb, just do not tell them they’re unhealthy. Moreover, don’t force compliance around health early, because Canadian health care is free. May as well abuse it till we lose it.... eh?

Follow me here...


This progression, with the exception of health is consistent across 8 years of primary school + 5 years of secondary school +/- 5 years of post secondary education accounting for an avg of between 8 & 18 years AFTER WHICH we enter the workforce and deploy the exact opposite
structure?

  1. receive the accompanying pay (aka: workplace adjective for grade) -
  2. demonstrate (usually over two weeks) that we've got a grasp of the materials -
  3. work as fast as we possibly can to practice and implement the materials -
  4. access management, intranet & help desks so we don’t actually have to learn the knowledge.
*note - and we show up with the expectation that every six months to a year, we are going to meet with said management & boss with the expectation of a raise regardless of the overall performance of the organization.

 
DOES. ANYONE. ELSE. SEE. THE. FLAWED. LOGIC. WITH. THIS. SYSTEM?

Do I need to continue? Ok –I’ll continue. If we want to... I dunno solve the global economic crisis, solve the global health care crisis and/or have the Yankee’s win the world series every year we must start [insert logic here]

Workplace logic.
How we do it now.

  • we’re so happy to have you here, we’re going to start you at X amt of $$ for Y responsibility with a guaranteed contract over Z years. Perhaps a bonus packages and for sure an option to review every quarter.
  • If you’re not happy after the honeymoon stage is done, you can simply quit, sue us for something we’ve not likely done wrong and burn a hole in someone else's pocket.
  • but since you have a degree (that no one will likely check or verify which you understood was your finish line) you must be worth the massive amount of time we’re about to invest in you.
  • We’re just so lucky to have you.
Pay for performance system

  • you are really fortunate to have a job in this economy with a company who’s ownership, management & alumni who have obviously done something right to be able to a) keep the doors open never mind b) turn a profit.  
  • we’re going to start you off with a very low base salary with clear success indicators, which each time you hit automatically activate bonus pay that you are entitled to because you’ve earned it.
  • we’ve mapped out all of these kickers and the reality is we’re going to take our X% based on industry standards and then provide you & everyone else with Y% of Z profit to split amongst yourselves.
  • in the event you're the only one to hit the success indicators, you get the majority of the profit. This profit is divvied  upon review at the end of the fiscal year, so for the 1st year of employment our suggestion is to live within your means and work your ass off to get to the next level. When you get there, keep working your ass off until such time you don’t work for this company any longer.
  • in the event you arrive at any one of your reviews without hitting the performance markers, you will not receive the performance bonus. If you fail to meet it twice... Well you will probably have quit before then.   
Health Care logic (Sorry, it’s the space we're in – have to)
How we do it now.

  • By blah dibbidy blah blah time really soon – 70 cents of every dollar we make will go to sustaining our healthcare system – get active!
  • By blah dibbidy blah blah time really soon – 70 cents of every dollar we make will go to sustaining our healthcare system – get active!
  • By blah dibbidy blah blah time really soon – 70 cents of every dollar we make will go to sustaining our healthcare system – get active!
Pay for performance system

  • your health is going to be taught & evaluated with the same rigor as reading, writing & arithmetic staring in kindergarten and will continue for the duration of your education (8-18yrs) 
  • if you stay in a healthy range (based on normative data) you will keep your free healthcare privilege AND you will earn the right to more privileges. The older you get, the more relevant the privileges to your age.
  • if you fall outside of a healthy range (based on normative data) you will lose your free healthcare privilege and lose the right to additional privileges as you get older.  
  • *and yes if you have a disability or injury, we’ve constructed a modified performance metrics for you to hit as health is more than just physical fitness.
Now tell me – WTF do you think would happen with our kids, communities, teams, businesses, provinces & countries if we integrated the common sense logic of a pay for performance system?
 

It's time for a change people and never mind the rhetoric. Step up and put your money where your mouth is while we still have enough money to do that. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Standard in Service.

Heard an unbelievable customer service story the other day that would not only amaze most people but also spark thought on the services & experiences we pay for on a daily basis – and whether those services meet or exceed our expectations.

First the story.

I recently checked out of the Ritz-Carlton Toronto hotel and depart as normal. I have a car picking me up in the round a bout outside the front doors. I jump in, and we drive to Niagara Falls - this is 1hr45 outside of Toronto.

When I arrive at the hotel in Niagara Falls, I go to check-in and my wallet is missing. Knowing I had checked out 2hours ago, I knew it could only be at the Ritz. So, I immediately call the front desk and ask if they have found my wallet. They said they hadn't & assured that they would call if anything showed up.

15 minutes later.

The front desk at the Ritz calls me to let me know they have found my wallet. They inform me that they looked throughout the lobby and outside…and that they found it in the driveway. This impressed me! They specifically took the time to look (rather than just saying they will) and actually followed up.

At this time, they asked me where I was. I told them that I was in Niagara Falls. They said they would call me back in 10min to figure some sort of arrangements.

Here's ‘The Kicker’ - they called back within 10min and said:

"Mr. Green, we have coordinated one of the staff to drive your wallet down and deliver it to you. He will be leaving in 10mins, so you should have your wallet no longer than 2hours. What hotel are you staying at?"

I was BLOWN away! I thought they would call back to overnight it via UPS or another courier service. It blew my socks off. My response was, "Are you serious? You're actually going to drive it down here for me?"

The gentlemen replied, "Yes, Mr. Green. WE ARE The Ritz-Carlton - this is what we do"

What a story. For pretty much any consumer, that would exceed all of their expectations. However, that exact example is the expectation that the Ritz Carlton sets for their service. And anything below it would not be acceptable & reaching the standard they are known for. 

Which begs some of the following questions...

Should a service provider try to meet customer expectations or always try to exceed them?

If we are consistently trying to exceed them, how do we do it? 

Let's dive further into this. 

Many management consultants would urge service companies to ‘delight’ or ‘go above & beyond’ with customers to gain a competitive edge. The delight that they refer to is a profoundly positive emotional state that results from having one’s expectations exceeded to a surprising degree.

Picture it like a series of rings. The innermost bull’s-eye refers to the basic function of the product or service, called musts. Their provision is not particularly noticeable, but their absence would be. Around the musts is a ring called satisfiers: features that have the potential to further satisfaction beyond the basic function of the product. At the next and final outer level are delights, or product features that are unexpected and surprisingly enjoyable. These features are things that consumers would not expect to find and they are therefore highly surprised and sometimes excited when they receive them.

Delighting customers may seem like a good idea, but this level of service provision comes with extra effort and cost to the organization. Therefore, the benefits of providing delight must be weighed. Among the considerations are the staying power and competitive implications of delight.

Staying power involves the question of how long a company can expect an experience of delight to maintain the consumer’s attention. If it is fleeting and the customer forgets it immediately, it may not be worth the cost. Alternatively, if the customer remembers the delight and adjusts his or her level of expectation upward accordingly, it will cost the company more just to satisfy, effectively raising the bar for the future. Recent research indicates that delighting customers does in fact raise expectations and make it more difficult for a company to satisfy customers in the future.

Many companies today talk about exceeding customer expectations by giving more than they expect. First, it is essential to recognize that exceeding customer expectations of the basics is virtually impossible - delivering the core service is what the company is supposed to do. Companies are supposed to be accurate and dependable and provide the service they promised to provide. At the end of the day, it is very difficult to surprise or delight customers consistently by delivering reliable service.

How, then, does a company delight its customers and exceed their expectations?

In any service, developing a customer relationship is one approach for exceeding service expectations. The Ritz-Carlton Hotels provide highly personalized attention to its customers. In each hotel within the chain, a special organization exists called guest recognition. This special function uses a database to remember over 800,000 guests and generate information for all appropriate staff. It stores: likes/dislikes; previous difficulties; family interests; personal interests; preferred credit card; frequency of use of the hotel; lifetime usage/amount of purchase. In this way staff are able to understand what is ‘new or different’ about an individual customer.

Another way to exceed expectations is to deliberately under-promise the service to increase the likelihood of exceeding customer expectations. The strategy is to under-promise and over-deliver. If every service promise is less than what will eventually happen, customers can be delighted frequently. As an example, promising a specific delivery time and consistently exceeding the expectation by delivering the product or service earlier – same goes with quoting jobs. And although this reasoning sounds logical, we should weigh two potential problems before using this strategy:
  • Customers with whom a company interacts regularly are likely to notice the under-promising and adjust their expectations accordingly, negating the desired benefit of delight.
  • Under-promising in a sales situation potentially reduces the competitive appeal of an offering and must be tempered by what competition is offering.

A third way to exceed expectations is to position unusual service as unique rather than the standard. Whether it be planned spontaneity or suggested that the increase in level of service or delivery of product was for a specific & valuable reason – like a ‘special or feature’.

And lastly, the final way to exceed expectations is to create a higher service delivery standard in the first place. If the bar of expectation within the organization is raised to a higher level (that exceeds the standard of the service delivery amongst the competitors), then it automatically will differentiate themselves in their marketplace.

At the end of the day, to develop a true customer franchise, we must not only consistently exceed the adequate service level but also reach the desired service level – which can be hard to find these days!