Bodybuilding helps workers lift their game

By Susan Edmunds

Peni Tavalu gives his all in Foodstuffs' gym. Photo / Michael Craig
Peni Tavalu gives his all in Foodstuffs' gym. Photo / Michael Craig

Think team building and you may picture games in conference rooms or awkward afternoons tenpin bowling. But for 16 men who work at Foodstuffs' Mangere distribution centre, a regime of bodybuilding has strengthened their team.

Led by bodybuilder Tony Martin, the group trains for an hour and a quarter, four times a week. They started six weeks ago and have another six weeks before they're expected to show their results, Full Monty-style, on stage at a party for staff and family.

Martin says it was a big challenge. "I'm a competitive bodybuilder and when I go on stage I have to have a total of 35mm of body fat over eight sites," says Martin.

"A lot of these guys started with 300mm."

Combined, they have already lost 1300mm of body fat. As well as the gym sessions, the men had to commit to a 6km walk daily in their own time and a new eating regime.

They are aged from 18 to their mid-50s and Martin says they have varying degrees of fitness. Peer pressure is keeping everyone on track. None has dropped out so far.

"It has huge benefits in team cohesion," Martin says.

Foodstuffs supervisor Andy Cheale, one of the bodybuilders, agrees.

"There is more productivity because the guys can stay focused for longer periods and it's good team building," he says.

"We took a small number from each department, which forces interdepartmental relationships."

He says some of the men are in quite physical jobs in which they lift thousands of boxes a day, so being physically fit is a big help. "If you're doing heavy lifting, it makes sense to stay fit."

Murray Jordan, Foodstuffs Auckland's managing director, says the business has a number of initiatives to help employees maintain their health.

"The fact that the team from the distribution centre have gone that extra step and taken up bodybuilding training is fantastic," he says.

"As a result, they have seen significant changes in overall body mass, as well as the positive and lasting changes they have made to their entire lifestyles."

- Herald on Sunday

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