Walk your way to business success

By Danielle Wright

Taking a coaching session outdoors is great for the body as well as the mind, as Danielle Wright discovers on a walk with ilume's Raechel Ford.

Raechel Ford of ilume (left) says walking during a coaching lesson often helps clients relax. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Raechel Ford of ilume (left) says walking during a coaching lesson often helps clients relax. Photo / Sarah Ivey

As a person who spends most of my work life sitting at a computer writing, I've become increasingly interested in how to combine work and fitness.

There's everything from the extreme treadmill desk, where you can walk during your eight-hour workday, to small things like walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift.

Other people also seem to be looking for work-fitness options, and more and more of our business leaders are deciding to walk the talk by moving one-to-one management meetings or reviews out into the fresh air.

One CBD-based company is meeting demand from corporate clients by offering a walking coaching service. I've turned up on a grey day to pound the pavement with Raechel Ford, an executive coach to many of New Zealand's leading CEOs and corporates.

"Studies show that thinking is more expanding, people are more open and relaxed, and more is remembered when the psychological and physical are working in tandem," explains Raechel, who has just arrived back from facilitating leadership training for senior managers in Christchurch after the earthquake.

If you think about it, most conversation takes place when people aren't moving - around a dinner or boardroom table, at an office desk, on a park bench, so how does moving while talking affect the way you relate?

"Walking itself will bring a person's natural rhythm to life and walking beside a coach will help you both become in sync," says Raechel.

We're walking along a breezy Quay St towards Mission Bay, yet the traffic noise goes unnoticed as we talk about personal brands. This is something I've previously discounted as a bit deceptive and in the same basket as "getting your colours done" but learn it's actually about giving yourself a chance to stand out.

Executive coaching has only been around for a few years but New Zealand has embraced it to such an extent that top corporates now expect professional development as part of their package, alongside a parking space and health insurance.

For corporates wanting to fit a coaching walking session into an extended lunch hour, the walk along the waterway is still restorative, but you can just as easily meet at a park.

It's a two-hour return trip where the questions fired at me are a lot less intimidating than if we were sitting face-to-face in a small room, and I head home with a new perspective on my work, as well as the good endorphins gained from a brisk walk around the waterfront.

Where to start

Ilume customise programmes to suit individuals or teams, so you can't just book a single appointment. All prices are on application.

- NZ Herald

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