Wellness + Work: A Potent Combination
Tina Iantorno is a Toronto-based Fitness and Wellness Consultant. Her career journey is an unusual one with lessons for all of us; career professionals and our clients.
Tina, you’ve had a very interesting and unique career path. How did you come to be a Fitness and Wellness Consultant?
After 17 years as a talent acquisition and HR professional, I made a career change to fitness and corporate wellness. In some ways, this was not an easy decision and in others, it really was! Although the two career paths may seem so far apart from one another, the correlation became very clear to me as I explored future career options.
As an HR professional, I spent long hours each day mostly desk-bound in front of a computer, attending to emails and calls on both ways of my commute, holding working lunches, and checking my Blackberry/smartphone constantly. Sound familiar?
Suffering from lack of sleep, headaches, fatigue, over-caffeination, and stress about work due dates was the norm. I continued to meet deadlines, received awards, handled increasing workloads, and believed I was productive and thriving on the stress.
On the weekends, I felt completely exhausted from the workweek. This cycle continued until my health and well-being were compromised. Once I recovered, continuing my career within talent acquisition and human resources was an option. Yet, I didn’t take it.
Contemplating the uncertainty of a new career path and the thought of returning to studies was overwhelming. I knew I wanted to help others outside of recruitment but didn’t know what that looked like.
Deciding on which career path to take was next. I focused on what would interest me, leverage my background, use my skills, and be of value to others. This was not as easy a self-reflection as I thought it might be. I only had experience in the corporate world, living the typical office job — or so I thought.
I started where I advised others to start when I was a Career Manager for a major Canadian bank. I started with me — exploring my interests, work style, strengths, transferable skills, and past experiences in and outside of work. Career tests, online tools, and books helped me outline these things and to explore further how my personality and interests aligned with particular fields.
Assessments stated I was best suited for jobs in the health, fitness, sports, and wellness industry. Exciting, yes! Overwhelming, definitely! But I had no doubt that this was the path my career was meant to follow.
I had participated in fitness classes and tried out a few different sports during and just after university, but it was just in the last few years that physical activity became — and continues to be — critical to maintaining my overall health and well-being. I trained and studied so that I now have the tools and strategies to help others reduce the risk of the injuries and conditions common to office workers, and to better manage stress. And, by sharing my personal journey, I’m able to authentically coach employees on ways of incorporating physical activity into their workdays.
I feel very strongly that fitness truly was the lifeline that restored both my mental and physical health.
What services do you offer?
My company, TKA MOVES, specializes in physical activity for corporate wellness programs. The main focus is on promoting (realistic) ways to sit less and move more, especially for the desk-bound office employee.
The services I offer include:
- Corporate presentations, lunch and learns, and training workshops
- On-site group fitness classes
- Corporate meeting fitness and stretch breaks
- 1-on-1 personal training sessions
- 1-on-1 fitness coaching
- Health & Wellness fairs/events
What would a typical corporate wellness session look like?
Whether it is a lunch and learn, wellness fair, or fitness class, the in-house sessions I deliver provide information and tips, and promote a healthy and active lifestyle, offering the know-how to be consistent with one’s healthier habits. Participation rates are high, with opportunities to ask questions and try out a stretch, fitness move, play a game, etc.
What feedback do you get from employees who participate in your sessions?
“Fun!” — I get that a lot! Other comments include: informative, interactive, engaging, motivating, relatable, and a positive experience. During the sessions, I answer lots of questions and participants enjoy sharing their personal stories.
What is your personal philosophy about wellness and the world of work?
Healthy employees are productive employees! I truly believe that one’s health and wellness are foundational to being at your best in and outside of the workplace. And when you are healthy, engaged, and productive, you are in a better state to help those around you. Not only do you grow as a person, but your career will flourish, too. Occupational wellness is important because it gives you the clarity and energy to explore what kind of work will bring you the most satisfaction. It helps you to establish a healthy work/life balance and makes you receptive and eager to embrace networking and lifelong learning.
In today’s work environment, stress isn’t going anywhere. Doing more with less is expected, and with many office workers sitting for up to 10 hours a day, wellness is no longer a nice-to-have.
Reducing sedentary behaviours and implementing workplace wellness initiatives form a healthy work culture for any organization, regardless of size.
Do you have a message you’d like to pass on to employers about the benefits of employee wellness programs?
Creating a healthier workplace where your employees can thrive takes a holistic approach — where both physical and mental health are addressed — and the understanding of the well-being needs of different generations. It takes daily practices to reap the full benefits/value. The ROI is measurable.
When your employees feel and know through sincere contact points throughout their day and career with you that they have access to the resources they need, and they find value in the employee wellness programs you offer, they will do more, be ill less (and miss fewer days), and cost you less in disability leaves and claim costs. Their engagement and employee satisfaction levels will increase, and better attraction, acquisition, and retention of talent will occur.
Any last words of wisdom you’d like to share with our readers?
You have the strategic and tactical skills to help your clients, but remember that it takes as little as a few minutes each day to recharge so that you feel holistically prepared to support them. Applaud one another for those short recharge/energy/stretch/walking/fitness breaks and lead by example. Utilize your stress-busting strategies and share them with colleagues and clients. Aim to make healthy habits part of your daily routine and sit less, move more, live well.
Tina Iantorno, BBA, CPT, is a certified personal trainer and corporate wellness consultant who specializes in fitness for employee wellness programs. Her mission is to help busy professionals incorporate physical activity into their work day for reduced sedentary behaviours, increased fitness levels, and improved overall health and well-being. After graduating from Brock University with an honours degree in Business Administration, Tina spent over 17 years in the talent acquisition and human resources field, helping organizations devise and implement talent strategies and practices. When the stress of work resulted in injury, Tina embarked on a multifaceted treatment plan that led her in a new direction to her current career. She is founder and principal of TKA MOVES. Follow her on Instagram @tka_moves.