The RBC Olympian Program Gives Canada’s Top Athletes The Competitive Edge In Sport And Life

coc-rbc-lockup_headerFor many young people, starting out in the workforce can be challenging – lack of experience, skills, and opportunities. For Canada’s elite-level athletes who have spent most of their life focused on sport, it can be an even more daunting task. Understanding these pressures, RBC welcomed 57 athletes to its 2017/2018 workforce as part of the RBC Olympian Program. I was invited to attend the celebration event on September 27th and found out first hand from the athletes the importance of this program, as well as ask them some of your questions shared with me through social.

Established in 2002, the RBC Olympian Program enables athletes, from both summer and winter sports, as well as those transitioning out of sport, to work on RBC initiatives and engage as community ambassadors to speak about their experiences and the Olympic values of commitment, excellence, teamwork and leadership to audiences across the country.

“We recognize that the road to the Olympics isn’t an easy one, and that’s why RBC continues to make a significant commitment to Canadian athletes through the RBC Olympians program. We want to make sure that athletes can stay focused on their Olympic dreams while also honing the skills they need to be successful in life after sport.”
– Matt McGlynn, Vice President, Brand Marketing RBC

This was a point shared by each of the athletes I interviewed, giving gratitude and appreciation to RBC for the financial support and opportunity for flexible employment that fits with their intense training schedules.

Athlete Interviews

As part of the launch of this years RBC Olympian Program I had the pleasure to live tweet the event (search the hashtag #RBCOlympian on twitter) and share via my Instagram interviews with some of Canada’s top athletes. Prior to the event I asked YOU for some of your “hard hitting” questions 😉

So here they are, along with a short athlete bio.

Spencer O’Brien – (Women’s Slopestyle Snowboard) – Spencer O’Brien is a First Nations athlete from British Columbia, who won a silver medal during 2016/17 World Cup season. O’Brien was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a week before Sochi 2014, but still competed. O’Brien is managing the disease and is considered a medal contender again.

Here’s what Spencer had to say about snacks, rest days, her favourite podcast, and pre-competition rituals:

Mercedes Nicoll – (Women’s Snowboard halfpipe) – Mercedes Nicoll is a veteran of the national team, who competed in Sochi 2014 which was her third Olympic Games (she finished 25th). She has been named to the national snowboard team for 2017/18 so hopes to make PyeongChang her 4th Olympic Games.

Here’s what Mercedes had to say about self-care, eating healthy, her favourite fitness move (which we try), how she unwinds at the end of the day, how she defines success, and her training mantra:

Tyler McGregor – (Sledge hockey) – Tyler McGregor was the sledge hockey team captain of the bronze medal team at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games. He was the youngest member of Canada’s gold medal winning team at the 2013 IPC World Championships, and is said to be “on the fast track to success in the sport”.

In 2009, as an able-bodied ice hockey player at the AAA level, the 16-year-old McGregor broke his ankle and both bones in his leg. As his leg healed and he returned to playing ice hockey, a large lump developed on the site of the original fracture. At first doctors ruled out anything serious, and he continued to play, but the lump grew larger, and the pain intensified, he eventual received the diagnosis of Spindle Cell Sarcoma, a form of soft tissue cancer, in January 2010. McGregor then underwent eight months of chemotherapy and the amputation of his left leg. McGregor realized quickly that he wanted to get back into hockey and started playing again with a standing amputee team. However he switched to sledge hockey in 2011 and his determination has led him to the national team.

Here’s what Tyler had to say about sport-life balance, favourite snack on the go, cross training, rest days, his athletic hero, his favourite book, and how he celebrates success:

Sarah Wells – (Track and Field) – Sarah Wells made her Olympic debut at London 2012 where she advanced to the semifinals of the 400m hurdles. She had remarkably qualified for the Games after being sidelined for nine months in 2011 when she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left femur. Wells went on to compete at the 2013 Summer Universiade where she won silver with the 4x400m relay and just missed the podium with her fourth place finish in the 400m hurdles. Wells was then out for another six months with a re-occurrence of the stress fracture in her femur. She came back to capture her fourth Canadian title in 2015, following her 400m hurdles victories in 2012, 2010, and 2008. Wells also won a pair of medals at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Here’s what Sarah had to say about sport-life balance, when she feels her most powerful, her least favourite workout, what she does to unwind, what advice she would give her younger self, and her pre-race rituals:

Since 1947, RBC has been the longest-standing supporter of Canada’s Olympic Team and has hired approximately 400 current and retired Olympic and Paralympic athletes through the RBC Olympian Program, with more than 20 becoming full time employees. It was an honour to meet with these high level athletes, ask them questions, and hear how RBC has made a positive impact on their training. I can’t wait to follow along as Spencer, Mercedes, and Tyler head to PyeongChang in 2018.

 

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5 Ways to Use Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in the Workplace

yoga cardsOctober marks Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month, a web-based initiative that aims to “build awareness of the importance of workplace health for the short and long-term success of organizations and for the well-being of their employees.”1 In order to help you and your team move more during the workday, we’re sharing 5 ways you and your colleagues can move  and stretch using a few of your favourite Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards.

When selecting cards to use in the different activities, be sure to keep in mind the ability and safety of all participants. Remind participants that they are free to modify stretches and poses, as needed.

 

1. Stretching Scramble. Select 8-10 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards and place them face down in a common area of your meeting space. Set an alarm (e.g., phone or computer alarm or timer) for 3-5 intervals depending on the length of your meeting. Once the alarm sounds one person selects a card and leads the team in a stretch for 30-45 seconds. Once complete, cards can either be returned face down or be held onto by the stretch leader. Each alarm gives an opportunity for a new stretch leader.

2. PowerPoint Power Up. Display 6-8 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards at the front of your meeting space. When presenting to your colleagues using PowerPoint (or a similar program) place a yoga themed image in the bottom right corner of every 5-6 slides. When this image appears, meeting participants select one of their favourite poses from those displayed at the front of the room. This can be structured where the entire meeting stops to stretch, or simply allow participants to take the lead and stretch for as long as they need.

3. Stretch and Seek.  Place 8-10 of your favourite cards from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in common, but hidden, areas of your workplace – think coffee cup cupboard, freezer, and photo copy room door. Encourage colleagues who come across the “hidden” cards to perform the stretch for 30-45 seconds while in the space. Consider changing the card locations daily.

4. My Stretch. Meeting participants select their favourite Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards and keep it at their meeting space face down. At random intervals, determined by the participants, one participant will lead their colleagues through their stretch holding it for 30-45 seconds. Consider displaying optional cards for those who might want to perform an alternate stretch.

5. Drop Everything and Stretch. Place 10-12 of your favourite cards, from Ophea’s Yoga Alphabet Cards in a fun bag or decorated envelope, along with a staff list and pen. Participants perform a specified number of stretches from the bag before crossing off their name and passing the bag along to a colleague who hasn’t received it. Participants are encouraged to drop everything and stretch as soon as they receive the bag. Challenge staff to see how quickly they can make it through the entire staff list and challenge themselves to beat their combined time another day.


1Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month. (2017). About Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month®. Retrieved from: http://healthyworkplacemonth.ca/en/about/about

5 Ways to Use Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards in the Workplace

Image result for ophea 50 fitness activity cardsWhile Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards have been a much loved tool by teachers in the classroom and adults working with children and youth, have you ever considered using them in your office, or work setting, to get the adults in your workplace moving? Here are 5 ways you can integrate Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards into your workplace (e.g. during staff meetings, mid-morning surprise energizers, lunch, etc.).

1. Meeting Minute Movements: Randomly select 6 cards from Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards. Display the 6 cards in a place where all participants in the meeting can see them. Together all participants in the meeting perform each activity to the best of their ability for ten seconds, therefore moving for a total time of one minute. Consider having multiple breaks, and even choose optional cards for those who might want to perform an alternate movement.

2. Pick A Side: Find an open space large enough for everyone in your workplace. Divide the space in half and assign 1-2 of Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards to each side of the room. The leader will call out two choices. The first choice will be represented by the left side of the room and the second choice by the right side. Participants quickly move to the side of the room that they prefer between the two choices and perform the assigned 50 Fitness Activity Card. Consider choices related to your workplace or the following options:

  • Summer or winter?
  • Country or Rock-n-roll music?
  • Siblings or only child?
  • Morning person or night owl?
  • Elvis or The Beatles?
  • Apples or oranges?

3. Jack, Jump, and Squat: Participants find a partner and face each other. Select three of Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards and assign each a number from 1-3.  This workplace energizer is done in four rounds, with the first round helping to set the structure of the energizer:

  • Round 1: Participants count to three by taking turns. Partner A says ‘1’, Partner B says ‘2’, Partner A says ‘3’, Partner B says ‘1’, and so on. Have them repeat this pattern for several seconds.
  • Round 2: Participants count to three but replace the ‘1’ with the first 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., jumping jack).
  • Round 3: Participants count to three but replace the ‘1’ with the first 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., jumping jack) and the ‘2’ with the second 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., tuck jump).
  • Round 4: Participants count to three but replace the ‘1’ with the first 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., jumping jack), the ‘2’ with the second 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., tuck jump), and the ‘3’ with the third 50 Fitness Activity Card (e.g., squat).

4. Fire 5/10: As a group select three of Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards. In pairs participants face each other with 1 or 2 hands hidden behind their back. On the signal “1, 2, show” participants reveal their hands with any number of fingers showing. Participants add up the fingers of both/all hands as quickly as possible, with the goal to shout out the correct answer first. Participants perform the corresponding Ophea 50 Fitness Activity Card based on whether they shouted out the correct response first (e.g., if they answered correctly first they perform “Chicken jacks”, if they shouted the answer second: “Squat kicks”, and if it was a tie they perform “Coffee grinders”.

5. Station Scatter: Display 10 of Ophea’s 50 Fitness Activity Cards around the meeting room. Participants perform 10 repetitions of each card as quickly as possible before moving on to the next card. Participants can complete the cards in any order with the goal of completing as many cards as possible.

Do you have more tips on keeping active at work? Share them with us on Twitter @PARCOntario using #PARCBlog!

This post originally appeard on the PARC Blog September 20, 2017. View the original post here.