What is parkHIIT?
parkHIIT is an outdoor interval training session based around bodyweight resistance exercises that started in Dublin in January 2018. park because it takes place in the outdoors and HIIT is an acronym for High Intensity Interval Training.
Strength / resistance exercise doesn’t have to involve lifting heavy weights in the gym. Bodyweight exercises are a great starting point for resistance training. Include the resistance exercises as part of a circuit and you can develop fantastic full body workouts to accommodate different fitness levels. Don’t let the “high intensity” part scare you off by the way. Participants push themselves as much (or as little) as they choose.
What is the parkHIIT Corporate Challenge?
I love the Grant Thornton 5K and wanted to do something similar that promoted the importance of resistance training in the corporate world. I teamed up with Ronan Mahon of Movement Fitness for the first parkHIIT Corporate Challenge which started in mid-October 2018 and ran for 4 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in Ballsbridge. Companies participating in the inaugural challenge included Ibec (who had 13 participants!), AIB, Ernst and Young, Allianz and Just Eat as well as teams of individuals including representatives from Facebook, Arup Engineering and LinkedIn among others. Teams were made up of 4 or 5 people and while there was a fun first past the post challenge on one evening the vast majority of points were awarded for participation (just turning up!).
What are the benefits of participating in a corporate challenge?
A corporate challenge is a brilliant way to engage employees, promote healthy lifestyles and improve team spirit and morale. It’s a wellness tool that can help companies enjoy friendly competition both internally and against other companies in their community, regardless of size or type of business. It also takes networking to a whole new level! The purpose of participating in a challenge should be to rally employees around a common goal, while encouraging as many colleagues as possible to join in and improve their health and wellbeing.
How did the inaugural event go?
Winners of the inaugural event were the ‘Mad Macs’, a team of individual entrants who were followed very closely by the three Ibec teams!
For 3 out of the 4 weeks the weather was fantastic. Week 4 was a little wet so we retreated indoors for a workout on one of the evenings. The beauty of parkHIIT is that you push yourself as hard as you want to on a given day. There’s always the opportunity to take a breather if you have to. Typical exercises ranged from bodyweight squats to push ups to lunges. We introduced a small amount of equipment during the inaugural challenge which was a nice way to mix up exercises and keep it fun for the participants. The dreaded burpee did make an appearance occasionally too!
Why not just go for a run?
Aerobic exercise is fantastic and it’s important to get a certain amount in per week however we all need a little bit of resistance in our lives too. Resistance exercise that is. Twice a week at least seeing as you asked. If you don’t believe me then take a look at what the World Health Organization has to say on the matter:
“Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.”
Lean muscle mass sadly diminishes with age for everyone. If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body over time. Resistance training can help preserve and enhance muscle mass at any age. It can also help you with the following:
Weight Management: Resistance exercise can help you to manage or lose weight and it can increase your metabolism to help burn more calories
Stronger Bones: By stressing your bones, resistance exercise can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Chronic Conditions: Resistance exercise can reduce the impact of chronic conditions such as heart disease, back pain, arthritis, diabetes, obesity and depression.
Enhance Quality of Life: Resistance training can improve your ability to do everyday activities. It can lead to better flexibility, mobility and balance, which can help you remain independent as you age
The key to a successful corporate challenge is inclusion – make sure each employee is capable of rising to the challenge and will take something positive from the experience. The parkHIIT Corporate Challenge educates on the importance of resistance training and supports employee wellbeing – training for the challenge is a great motivator for employees to reprioritise health and fitness and foster a positive mindset.
Want to get involved?
The parkHIIT Corporate Challenge runs in Ballsbridge again in February 2019. You can find out more and sign up here. 2019 will also see the launch of ‘Corporation Transformation’ - a version of the challenge that comes to your workplace! Contact me to find out more: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness programmes for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community. In his spare time Brian is bringing resistance training to every county and community in Ireland with his parkHIIT project.
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