Joining us today is Larimie McGarvey, the Fit Company Challenge team captain over at Austin Fraser. They’ve been coming to the Challenge for several years and always bring a really competitive (and fun!) team to the field!
We were fortunate to have been able to interview her and learn a lot about their company’s inspiring wellness culture.
How many years has your company been doing the challenge?
We’ve done it for three years, and our company has been in Austin for four years.
Out of curiosity, how did you get picked as team captain?
Being the US operations executive, I do quite a bit. When it comes to culture building or company activities, I’m usually the one taking the lead on that.
What are some of the other events and programs you organize?
One of our big ones is our monthly after hours, and we capitalize the AF (Austin Fraser) for AFter hours. These events can be pretty much anything like volleyball, bowling, hanging out with everyone and their families at the park, things like that. We try to keep these events activity-based.
That’s a lot of engagement! How does the company support or promote these events?
We’re a really close office and it’s kind of a part of our culture to share what we have going on and invite people to come along. For instance, I recently found out I was a universal blood donor and sent out an email saying I was going to go give blood and just like that got other team members to give blood too! Getting out and doing activities as a team is something that’s really ingrained in our culture.
Is it safe to say that your company has a culture where it’s not weird for people to suddenly drop and do push-ups together?
Well, that one doesn’t happen too often … but if it did it wouldn’t be an issue!
What type of things have you done in the past or this year to prep for the Fit Company Challenge.
We’re just really competitive individuals at the office who love to win and be successful. While we don’t do any formal team workouts, most of our people are already the kind who do triathlons, marathons, and charitable activities like Race for the Cure. They’re the kind of people who do workouts during lunch break or who hit the gym together after work.
When it came to prepping for the Challenge, did you notice people training together as squads, or by department, or anything like that?
We like to use accountability buddies! People pair off with other people at the same fitness level and ask “okay, what we can do to elevate ourselves?” I’d say that everybody’s kind of on their own different levels of athleticism that they maintain on their own, and collectively it all just comes together and works out really well.
What do you do leading up to the Challenge to get people pumped for the event?
I tend to lean on the emails you send us. They’re timed really well and help people stay in the loop and know what they’re getting into.
For instance, the first year I was involved, I didn’t know what I was getting into. It turned out to be a great challenge, but I wasn’t really prepared on the day of the event. So since then we’ve learned to share more with each other and make sure people know what to expect from the different levels of the Challenge. Having an open mind and open dialogue throughout the lead-up puts everyone at ease so they come to the challenge excited to participate.
Does your company provide incentives to get people to participate?
For competition day, we have people who compete and others who just come out and support the rest of us. Every year, I bring a canopy tent and we have a table set out for people to set their stuff. There will be participants and people who cheer us on and everyone makes a day out of it. After the event we always end up doing something together to celebrate as a team.
Do you guys set dedicated wellness targets each year or is it more organic?
We’re really fortunate here. People really enjoy being healthy and are very health-conscious. We have healthy snacks at the office like chia bars and chickpea chips and all that kind of stuff. But overall the team here is just really conscientious of the connection between their workouts, energy at the office, and diets. We don’t really have to push anyone to get involved.
Where do you think that the main drive for this culture comes from?
A combination of a lot of things. Basically, we start from the ground up. First, we make sure we’re hiring the best people out there. People who are smart, driven, and here for success. Then, once hired, we encourage them to keep pushing themselves for success to be better themselves, to work to get to that next stage of their career or life or whatever they are striving for.
Ultimately, we want to make sure that whenever we have someone come through the hiring process that we’re really transparent from the beginning. We want to be as clear upfront as possible so they know what to expect at the company and are as excited as we are on their first day of work.
Last question: do you guys set goals as a company, or is it more centered around the individual?
Oh yeah, there’s always goal setting going on here. It’s kind of in our nature. We have people who want to go out and learn another language, or save up and buy a new car or a new house. Everyone has their personal goals and as a business we want to understand those and not just their professional ones. Once we do, we see how we can help them achieve their goals in both personal and professional arenas.
We’d like to thank Larimie again for having taken the time to talk to us. We were so impressed with how entrenched wellness is at Austin Fraser with their wider company culture, and it’s no surprise they always place as one of the top teams at the Fit Company Challenge!