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A Workout at the Workplace / By Tal Ben-Baruch

Guy Shimshi, 35, has lived and breathed sports since the age of six. As a child who had to defend himself, he found a solution in martial arts (he won the title of Thai boxing champion of Israel twice). Following his military service he turned to dance and even spent several years as a member of the Mayumana dance troupe before becoming a fitness trainer.

To what degree do you think your background and your life story influence your work as a fitness trainer?
I’m not your standard fitness trainer who works with weights in an exercise room, but much more than that, and this stems from my broad background. I was involved in sports from a young age, first in acrobatics, later in karate and then I switched to Thai boxing. This allowed me to build my self-confidence and physical capabilities. I made numerous achievements and won the national Thai boxing championship twice.
After my military service I searched for something else and came to dance. I had a dream of becoming a professional dancer and put my all into it. I took a whole lot of classes such as classical ballet, jazz, hip-hop, belly dancing, Pilates, yoga and more. Eventually I got accepted by the Mayumana dance troupe and spent eight years performing with them in Israel and abroad. Four years ago I decided I wanted to focus on teaching fitness training because I felt a lack of interaction with people, which you don’t get performing in front of a thousand people. I decided to combine my love for working closely with people with the wide-ranging knowledge I’ve acquired in this field.


Guy Shimshi

What sets you apart from other fitness trainers?
My uniqueness lies in the knowledge I have, which I can make use of based on the person I’m training. I’m like a tailor, sewing a suit that precisely fits every person I meet. Whenever someone comes to me for training first I speak with him and get a feel for his preferences, what he likes to do and what he likes less, what his goals are and what he wants to achieve, and only then do I set out a training program based on the know-how I have.
Men general want power training, so I use weights and give them tough workouts. Women want something more relaxed, so I set up a yoga or Pilates program, or even Capoeira for those who are interested. I also do meditative work with people who I see lack calm during training sessions. Some people have an internal din that interferes with their training and they’re aware of this, so sometimes meditation is part of the program.

Where did you get the idea of training inside organizations?
I provide training on a private basis to various types of people: women, men, children, celebrities (Rotem Sela, Micky Geva, Sami Huri and others). I also train managers and company heads, including Ilon Rosen, CEO of Eyron Net. After about two years of training under my guidance, we started to put together an idea for training employees – an additional added benefit in employer-employee relations – and the idea took shape. I’ve been training employees there for the past four years and the program has been a big success.

So how does it work?
We built a very thorough and personalized program. There are no group lessons at all, but two or three employees at a time. I speak with each worker and come to understand his needs and personality, and then I link certain people together and adapt the lessons, each according to his own style.
The program is held at the workplace itself. We set up a special room with the minimum athletic equipment needed and the workouts are held before or after work hours, at every individual’s convenience.

Have you noticed a change among the employees?
Definitely! People at the company have begun exercising thanks to this initiative, otherwise they would have never gotten started. I feel I’ve changed the attitude toward exercise among several people at Eyron Net, and I see this as a real accomplishment – taking away fears that have been rooted in people for years and make them love exercise. Physical activity has turned into a unifying factor at the company. I take them to marathons and events outside of work and it has become a genuine social activity. I also try to foster healthier nutrition. Once a week I cut up a special vegetable plate arranged and spiced based on my expertise and a lot of people have taken off dozens of pounds as a result.

Why do you feel physical activity at the workplace is important?
Exercise at the workplace is of utmost important. Besides the good feeling it gives the workers, who feel they are receiving individualized attention and a show of caring, it also raises their level of alertness, streamlines productivity and improves motivation and the desire to work. If you ask me, physical fitness training at the workplace is a must.


Eyron Net employees during a workout

Why is it worthwhile for employers to hire a fitness trainer?
An employer who decides to invest in his workers this way stands to gain a lot in terms of employee retention, improved teamwork and company loyalty, and creates a more pleasant work environment. The employees come in to work happier in the morning and with better energies.

Many workplaces already have exercise rooms. What’s the difference between that and personal training?
Yes, I’m familiar with this and happy it exists because I really do believe in the importance of physical activity. But the effect an exercise room has on employees can’t compare to a personal trainer. I provide close, personalized training along with constant encouragement, even for those who always thought they didn’t like exercise and are unused to physical activity. I keep tabs on every worker and know where he stands. This personal tie helps the worker advance, makes him commit and ensures he enjoys the entire process. In an exercise room the employee has no obligation toward the workout. It’s an alienating place with one trainer for a lot of people. Many employees feel trepidation to even step into the threatening exercise room, so it’s not effective in the same way.

Today most employees sit in front of a computer for hours. Can you recommend exercises to do while working?
One very important thing people always forget when working at a computer is sitting correctly on the chair and adjusting the screen to the correct height. It’s important to make sure the screen is not positioned too low, because then the body is bent over. The screen should be at eye level and the chair should not be too high or too low. When sitting you have to make sure your shins are at a 90 degree angle to your thighs, your hips are pressed as far back against the seatback as possible and your back remains straight.
After learning how to sit properly, an important rule is to stretch every few minutes, to get up and walk around to give your body a release, to open your chest and straighten your shoulders. For those who can, you can even work standing up, but not for a long time of course.
Another recommendation is to start working with your weaker hand on the mouse. To a lot of people that may sound impossible, but anything you learn and do gradually is possible. Spend 1-5 minutes a day practicing, and within one month you’ll have the same control in both hands.

To wrap things up, what’s your motto?
I try to convey my love of exercise to everybody. For me there’s never a moment without physical activity. That’s what makes me feel good about myself. And my motto is, “Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better!” It’s partly a matter of perseverance. I teach this to my daughter, too, and she’s only four and a half…

The following video clip shows a Thai boxing workout at Eyron Net:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cup42KUlYSw

For the Hebrew Article  

 
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