Teamwork Key to PSOJ Workplace Wellness Success

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Members of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) team which participated in the 2016 staging of the National Health Fund’s (NHF) ‘Work it Out’ Challenge workplace weight loss competition, with trainer Stokely Rose (2nd right) of TrainFit Club. From left, are: Jason Nelson, Michelle Scarlett, Sheryl Barnes, and team captain, Kisha-Kaye Walker. Missing is the fifth member, Prudence Gentles.

Story Highlights

  • Members of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) team which participated in the 2016 staging of the National Health Fund’s (NHF) ‘Work it Out’ Challenge, proved that teamwork is pivotal to the success of any group activity.
  • The group comprised team captain, Kisha-Kay Walker who lost 40 pounds; Michelle Scarlett -31 pounds; Sheryl Barnes -23 pounds; Jason Nelson - 20 pounds; and Prudence Gentles -11 pounds.
  • Workplace wellness is emphasised, given the challenges of desk-bound jobs and growth in chronic illnesses from inactivity and improper diets.

Members of the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) team which participated in the 2016 staging of the National Health Fund’s (NHF) ‘Work it Out’ Challenge, proved that teamwork is pivotal to the success of any group activity.

The five members lost a combined 125 pounds in the workplace weight loss competition to place second overall.

The group comprised team captain, Kisha-Kay Walker who lost 40 pounds; Michelle Scarlett -31 pounds; Sheryl Barnes -23 pounds; Jason Nelson – 20 pounds; and Prudence Gentles -11 pounds.

Two of the members also received individual honours. Mr. Nelson, the sole male, placed second in the male individual category, while Ms. Walker finished third in the female equivalent.

Ms. Walker tells JIS News that a collective approach was taken by the team towards, with each member committing conformity to the agreed strategies.

“The key to our success was that we did not look at it as an individual effort; there was no ‘I’ nor ‘you’ in this. So if we were going on a particular diet for a week, it was the team that would do it.

Similarly, if we were going to the gym or to dance, it was always about the team” she explains, adding that wardrobe synchronization also enhanced the cohesion.

“We were wearing the same colours to train in every day. We decided on the colours and every day of the week we were similarly decked out. Then it got contagious. Other members of the organization were interested in doing exercises with us and they became our motivators” the team captain further states.

Ms. Walker says that after experimenting with several dietary combinations on their own, the members realized they needed additional professional help.

“We needed someone to come in and motivate us and we turned to Stokely Rose of TrainFit Club, who we found through the kind assistance of nutritionist, Frances Mahfood” she informs.

Mr. Rose tells JIS News that the interaction emphasized, among other things, the need for self-motivation by team members.

“I just came in and helped with guiding them to a place where they wanted to be. When I met them, they indicated that they wanted to do (the NHF challenge)…(and) we tried to build team cohesion,” he explains.

Mr. Rose said the importance of members doing all of their activities together was strongly emphasized.

In support of this, a communication channel utilizing social media was also established for the group to enable members to keep in touch with each other.

Mr. Rose also ensured that they got wider motivational support from TrainFit, noting that the members were included in the entity’s social media activities, including morning inspiration.

“We also got them to come into our space to work out among other persons which, I think, helped greatly. We went for versatility…they didn’t just do one thing or one set of activities,” he adds

Mr. Rose tells JIS News that he successfully co-opted the input of another trainer, attached to In-Motion Gym, in preparing his charges, and expresses gratitude to the management of that entity for also allowing them to use their facilities.

The activities at In-Motion Gym incorporated exercise sessions as well as boot camps.

Mr. Rose believes that the PSOJ team’s collective effort paid off and that in Ms. Walker, they had a strong motivational leader. He also had particularly high praise Mr. Nelson’s effort in the endeavour.

“I know that for a male, it is easier to lose weight; but that is not necessarily what men want to do. Males are not very receptive to losing weight. They always want to gain weight and muscle and look a certain way; so kudos to him for having accepted the challenge. Because the competition is geared towards encouraging men’s health, it was necessary for a man to be involved,” he says.

Mr. Rose also pointed out that Ms. Walker was “on his case” daily, emphasizing the need to lose weight.

He says Mr. Nelson’s response “told me something…about him being a team player…because, as a trainer, I know the challenge with getting young men involved (in this kind of activity).”

Mr. Rose said Mr. Nelson displayed none of the “overwhelming insecurities” toward weight loss that, on average, characterizes some men.

“I think it was the motivation from the team and attention to self that made him want to lose the weight; and he lost 20 pounds which is very inspiring…I am very proud of him,” Mr. Rose adds.

Mr. Nelson tells JIS News that he feels gratified. He said the challenge was initially difficult, but is grateful to the team members for motivating him.

“I feel very proud. Before I lost weight, I used to sweat a lot, especially in the morning when coming to work. Now I don’t sweat that much anymore and I feel much lighter on my feet. I feel revived and more energized,” he declares.

Ms. Walker says consequent on her newly sculpted svelte figure, she has had to adjust her wardrobe extensively to ensure her clothes are the perfect fit.

She points out that many of her associates, colleagues and friends are amazed by the outcome of the challenge on her.

Ms. Walker says persons who “finally figure out that it’s me”, after not recognizing her initially, have queried the secret to her success.

“I have introduced friends to (the challenge) and now they have formed teams (that are preparing) for next year’s (renewal),” she adds.

Ms. Barnes tells JIS News that the challenge’s outcome has piqued the interest of the PSOJ’s wider staff, noting that several of them have been initiating their own engagements, similar to what obtains with the NHF challenge.

“Everybody would come into my office, where the scale is kept, to weigh each week. So different groups (have set) their targets… and we (have) shared the different (formulas) that we got” she adds.

The NHF ‘Work it Out’ Challenge emphasizes diet and physical activity as healthy ways to lose weight.

Improving dietary habits and increasing physical activity helps in reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases and can significantly improve control of these conditions.

The NHF is deeply involved in health promotion in several areas, including the workplace.

Workplace wellness is emphasised, given the challenges of desk-bound jobs and growth in chronic illnesses from inactivity and improper diets.

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