10 practical physical activity tips from ParticipACTION employees

At ParticipACTION, we don’t just talk about active living, we actually do our best to lead active lives.

Jon Malton, our Corporate Partnerships Manager, ran the Boston Marathon in April. Rachel Shantz, our Director of Marketing, plays hockey and tennis every week. I don’t think Phillip Hatcher, our Senior Digital Manager, has ever missed a lunchtime workout session in his life.

Many of my coworkers cycle to work every day. A few of us are training for a half-marathon in October. We played kickball at lunch the other day as part of our ongoing 150 Play List activities. The list goes on.

In many ways working at ParticipACTION makes being active easier. Our CEO understands taking physical activity breaks is important, both to our health and to our productivity. There is constant encouragement and plenty of opportunities. We’re successful at making physical activity a normal part of our everyday office life. It’s accepted and expected, which makes a huge difference.

But it isn’t always easy

With that said, we are still normal people. We lead busy lives filled with kids, meetings, and responsibilities. We, too, have to face Canadian winters and resist binge-watching Netflix 24/7.

So, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask everyone for their best tips for leading an active life. Here are some of their best responses.

Hold yourself accountable like Sam.

Sam Trinier“I find accountability is the biggest thing that helps me! Whether it’s attending a class at a scheduled time, having a workout partner, or signing up for an event or race. It can be something as simple as a Nike Run Club run or a 10K that requires training (and having a training plan thanks to Jon).” – Sam Trinier, Projects Coordinator

Play team sports like Jesse.

“For me it’s all about team sports. I play hockey, softball, squash, and golf every week and by having set times and a group depending on me to be there, I can never feel too tired or lazy to go. I have to go. On top of that just the fact that we get to hang out and have a laugh means I never don’t want to go. It’s never a chore.” – Jesse Cassaday, VP, Business Development

Keep it simple like Michelle.

Michelle Murray“Keep it simple. I’ve never been one for the gym scene. I can’t pinpoint exactly why – maybe it’s because I associate any exercise at the gym with some sort of tracking - reps, weights, and times, it all makes my head spin. I’m a very organized person who manages a lot of logistics in my job and have to multitask regularly, so when it comes to being active I like to be relaxed and spontaneous. I’m also very budget conscious, and most of the physical activity I participate in doesn’t come at a cost - pretty sure it saves me more money than it costs me!” – Michelle Murray, Executive Assistant

Refresh the gym gear like Phil.

“This one sounds like a dumb one but it really works. I usually buy a few new gym gear items like a new pair of shorts, shirts, hat, etc. every couple months. Not only is it helpful as you wear out older gear but it’s also nice to hit the gym in a nice new outfit every once in a while. I am not sure if it is that you feel committed for spending money on new gear or the fact you want to show off your new gear, but it works.” – Phil, Senior Manager, Digital

Go old school like Jon.

Jon Malton“For my running, I build a paper calendar that’s at my desk and shows the nights and distances I’m supposed to run. Then I stare at it all day, and am well aware if I skip a run and don’t do it. It’s looking me right in the face, literally.” – Jon Malton, Corporate Partnerships Manager


Manage your energy like Brad.

Plan your activity around your energy NOT your time. Just because you have time at 11pm doesn’t mean it’s the best time for you to be active either motivation wise or when you can benefit most.” – Brad Gerard, Director of UPnGO

Don’t sweat it like Ali.

Ali Williams “Don’t sweat that you’re going to sweat. Deodorant and makeup products have come a long way and wearing your hair in a ponytail or bun can hide a great deal. Although we don’t have a shower at work for after my ride in, I wear gym clothes and change into my work clothes. Feeling better has helped me overlook any inconvenience here.” – Alison Williams, Marketing Specialist

Be social like Val.

I have an active "date" with my boyfriend every Monday to play volleyball. I work out in a park with a group of girls every Wednesday. Every time I go to a BBQ with my friends I bring all my balls, my pétanque, and frisbee. And, I look on social media for active events and to try new activities!” – Valérie Taillon, Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Be patient like Georgia.

Georgia Barrington “Patience. Nobody is perfect at an activity when they start, but I have to feel like I have a basic grasp of the things to even feel like I can start. A lot of people start a new activity and they’re not ready. Try to seek out low-barrier options like beginner-specific classes, or the least competitive sport league to give you a solid introduction. That said, I’m also someone who likes to learn. If I don’t feel like I’m learning, and getting better at an activity, I also won’t stick with it. Find people who can teach you!” – Georgia Barrington, Communications Coordinator

Sign up for something out of your comfort zone like Diana.

“For me personally, I’ve found it hugely effective to sign up for some kind of event a few months in advance that makes me a little nervous as to whether I can complete it or not. This gives me something to focus on so that I am working towards achieving a goal. It gives my workouts a purpose and keeps me motivated and more consistent because I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

Since turning 40, I have signed up for Kettlebell Sport competitions, 10K runs, Tough Mudder Obstacle Course Race and Triathlons progressing in distance from Sprint to a Half Ironman. Each of these required me to learn more, seek some coached classes, come up with a plan and train on my own as well. Each event was challenging and provided a huge sense of accomplishment upon completion that helped build confidence.” – Diana Dampier, Director of Projects