Shape Up for Good seminar has lessons for the workplace

Friday, March 29, 2019

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Tomorrow's “Shape Up for Good” seminar, while designed to help people who are overweight or unfit adopt a healthy lifestyle also has lessons for business people aiming to improve their lifestyles for better performance in the workplace.

The event, to be held at Eden Gardens Wellness Resort & Spa in New Kingston, is an initiative of Susan Muir — a certified health coach, athlete, motivational speaker and founder of the over 300-member strong “AweMaze Fitness Support” Facebook group.

“Obesity leads to disease and your level of fitness determines your ability to be productive at work,” Muir said. “These issues can influence factors that are very relevant to the workplace especially stress management. In so far as the workplace can be very stressful, becoming fit and maintaining a healthy weight can help you overcome your workplace stressors.”

The seminar can also explain absenteeism and presenteeism.

“A recent systematic research study in 2017 indicates that the evidence confirms substantial short-term and long-term indirect costs of overweight and obesity, including lost productivity among workers with obesity,” Muir siad. “Absenteeism and presenteeism contribute to high indirect costs of overweight and obese employees. Presenteeism is when people go to work carrying illness, injury, or anxiety which leads to reduced productivity.”

Muir explained that while the seminar does not revolve around business, the knowledge that will be shared from presentations on topics, such as nutrition, movement, physical activity, mindset and thinking as it relates to the possibility of change as well as factors such as sleep, social support and stress management, is transferrable to the workplace.

“The seminar does not target professional athletes,” she insisted. “We are seeking to inform and present to amateur athletes, fitness enthusiasts and people who are ready to accept a healthier lifestyle. The seminar's presenters will be able to relate to both the fitness enthusiast and the business person or professional in the audience as they themselves are fitness experts representing diverse backgrounds and professions.”

The presenters at the seminar represent the fields of fitness, medicine, education and industry. They include Dr Kamilah S Hylton, dean of the Faculty of Science and Sport, University of Technology, Jamaica and Ayanna T Samuels, an aerospace engineer, international development professional, motivational speaker, athlete and health and wellness consultant.

Samuels is a focused athlete, having practiced ballet from age 6 to 18 and is now an award-winning international bodybuilding and fitness athlete, a committed triathlete and a multi-medal winning runner, cyclist and swimmer.

On the business side, she is the Caribbean-based World Bank consultant for the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project and runs a consultancy practice for over 14 years specialising in the intersection of gender, ICT and STEM policy, and the use of ICTs and technology policy as enablers of access to basic human rights, socio-economic empowerment and poverty eradication.

Dr Hylton is an associate professor, committed researcher and a fitness enthusiast. Prior to her elevation to the position of dean, she served as head of school, Natural and Applied Sciences and head of division for Technical Sport Certification.

Also presenting will be physician and wellness advocate, Dr Daniel Thomas. Thomas, an aspiring entrepreneur, graduate of The University of the West Indies and a past student of Ardenne High School excelled in a variety of areas from the days of representing Jamaica at Scripps Howard Spelling Bee to top science student in the Caribbean in CXC in 2004.

Muir, who is staging the seminar and will also be presenting, has worked as a lecturer at UTech, Jamaica for more than 20 years. She is a regional representative for Bioethics Society of the Caribbean, member of the Jamaica Computer Society, and member of the gender equity organisation, WMW Jamaica. She holds a master's in Public Health (specialisation in Health Education), Master of Science in Computer-based Management Information Systems, a Master of Science in Technical and Science Communication, and a graduate diploma in Research Ethics.

— Alexis Monteith

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