Five people struggle to keep the makeshift raft they just built afloat as the waves crash around them. Their raft begins to tip over, when suddenly two castaways plunge into the sea. A third member helps the fallen members back onto the raft. Finally, the raft is righted and the team paddles furiously onward. This could be a movie or TV scene, but this is actually a team building exercise used just for promoting team chemistry in businesses. Metaphoric, of course, the waves stand for unplanned for and immediate change, the building of the raft as they make do indicates creativity and practicality and the whole exercise shows that the group either sinks or swims as a team.

The beauty of teamwork - good team chemistry - is easily recognized as the essence of many sports, but that beauty is also very much the essence of successful service businesses. When people think of a personal trainer, they usually think of the advantage that is received from the one-on-one attention, after all that is the title - “personal” trainer. However, personal trainers are by their very nature great motivators, and what they know and have learned about fitness, training and goal setting, translates very well from the weight room – to any boardroom.

The essentialness of team chemistry for promoting business performance was the subject of a recent roundtable discussion with management leaders and scholars. The panel concluded that teamwork, and more importantly cohesive team chemistry, is essential to business success. Top project managers understand that achievement is directly related to successful interpersonal relationships within the working group. They agree that businesses employ personnel based on talent, yet individual brilliance is not enough to ensure great business performance, and if it is one thing personal trainers know about, it is how to obtain peak performance.

Corporate fitness is a necessity these days, for keeping employees happy, healthy and productive. The business world is aware of the positive relationship correlating employee health, well-being and happiness with productivity and business success; all of which need wellness programs designed and directed by personal trainers. Personal training is a relationship business, and a personal trainer's job is education about the many facets of how to live and enjoy a healthier lifestyle. Personal trainers are experts in nutrition, food choice plans for weight control and energy, fitness covering all modalities, breathing and relaxation techniques, human interactions, and the new trends in mindfulness. Personal trainers are accustomed to designing and implementing programs that teach and develop these areas--all performed with a personal trainer's characteristic enthusiasm, passion and good humor. What could be a better equation to develop enjoyable and valuable learning tools for interpersonal and customer service skills that stimulate good team chemistry.

Team building activities have become a Human Resources staple the world over and a key to effective project management. When a group is put in situations where they must do various tasks that are both fun and challenging, they intentionally and sometimes unwittingly, learn ways of cooperating and interacting that improves employee performance and productivity, results in lower absenteeism, raises motivation and morale and more. Business leaders often refer to a TEAM as Together Everyone Achieves More.

Team chemistry is credited with helping any business achieve its goals and researchers and scholars explain that happens when all the members of the team work effectively together-- cohesively, to achieve common goals of the business, in a motivated spirit of camaraderie, trust and understanding one another.

Jon Katzenback and Douglas K. Smith in their book, The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High Performance Organization, describe that success of any team requires a performance challenge or mission, integrated thinking of diverse perspectives, common understanding and desire to do the right thing for the customer. Personal trainers work the very same way with all of their clients.

MIT's Human Dynamics lab identified that high performance teams had shared commitment and that communication was the most important predictors of a team's success.

Research studies showed that the strongest indicators of motivation in business is achieved by the engagement, energy effort and initiative employees bring to their jobs, satisfaction in their work and commitment. Bonding, the spirit of camaraderie and understanding one another are what promote these.

Personal trainers know the art of building trust with clients is what helps to develop their feelings of being able to share and engage with others in an open manner. They know how to encourage respect, how to inspire and motivate, how to ask the right questions to promote empathetic caring and rapport. How to quickly pick-up on mood or mindset and adjust a program as needed. What is applied one-on-one with proven, achievable results for health and fitness, also works in improving the group dynamics of any business world.

And businesses are ever more in need. Because of use and dependence on technology, it is not easy for business staff to develop interpersonal skills and harmonious chemistry.

A staff may be highly talented, but is most likely a diverse group. A personal trainer offers ideal help to bring diverse views, skills and knowledge bases into view in a group that can promote constructive interaction for the most effective performance.

New hires means change - a new mix in any established team interaction and chemistry - so the team dynamic needs to be revisited, recalibrated to eliminate feelings of threat, new feelings of lack of trust or negative competition. Complex businesses make it difficult for employees to share knowledge freely, learn from one another, be flexible, help one another collaborate, feel that goals are shared.

The personal trainer is a coach and a catalyst- and in a chemistry metaphor - the catalyst promotes interaction with the elements. The trainer uses structured activities, promotes positive relationships, encouragements, support and motivation. A cohesive feeling in the group, a commitment, collaboration, of mutual support, revving-up passion, providing enjoyable activities, with humor.

As personal trainers, you are the expert in designing and implementing training exercises, team exercises, programs geared and specific to your particular client or organization's needs. You are an expert in helping facilitating communication; knowing how to develop comfort and trust in interactions between you and your clients and among any group situation.

This is the time for personal trainers to be creative with their programs. Trainers have been designing programs for businesses such as 2-day team building events, or brown bag lunch and learns.

Team building afternoons held outside of the workplace are growing in popularity. This type of program generally plans for a welcome, an inspirational/motivational session focusing on positive attitudes, coping tools for stress and communication tools for understanding diversity, another section deals with mind-body-spirit balancing and strategies for achieving it. Another section focuses on nutrition; highlighting eating for energy, weight control, fat and muscle concerns and healthy choices in eating. A major section of course covers fitness and well-being sessions where mutual encouragement and participation occurs. And usually there is a finale of stretching breathing and meditation.

As Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning keeping together is progress, working together is success."


Greg Justice, MA, CPT, is the founder of AYC Health & Fitness (www.aycfit.com) and the Corporate Boot Camp System (www.corporatebootcampsystem.com). He has been actively involved in the fitness industry for more than a quarter of a century as a club manager, owner, personal trainer and corporate wellness supervisor.

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