From lunches and carols to markets and meeting Santa
Imagine your boss paid for your fitness and meal plan?
The biggest investment a company can make in its employees
Latest update: 23 January 2023
Few things are as effective as physical exercise in fostering grit. There’s so much compelling evidence proving that it elevates mood, and has a positive impact on workplace performance, personal health and happiness.
So what if instead of buying a ping pong table, or weekly after work drinks, your company invested in getting your team a personal trainer instead?
Neil with the CapeTownMagazine team at their year-end party. Image: Kiff Kombi Tours
GET A FITNESS COACH FOR YOUR COMPANY
One like personal trainer and fitness coach, Neil du Plessis, who through his Employee Benefits Program trains and coaches small teams and corporates to physical and mental health.
Neil, the vegan trainer, who's done everything from yoga to weightlifting and crossfit, helped the CapeTownMagazine.com team boost energy levels, build mental resilience, increase team camaraderie, lower stress levels, and each employee develop personally.
Founder of CapeTownMagazine.com Marcus Zandhuis says getting Neil has been an investment in team building, mental health, and general health for his people. “Neil’s all-round knowledge and expertise, his non-gladiator approach and kind, intelligent spirit is an absolute treat.”
Personal trainer, Neil du Plessis (centre, back) doing a fitness photo-shoot with friends. Image: Neil du Plessis
SET YOUR TEAM UP FOR SUCCESS
Neil begins with an introductory meeting to get the team comfortable and committed. He follows this up with time with each team member to find out how active they are: How many days a week they want to exercise; and help them not to just identify their goals, but define the intention behind them.
There’s also a fitness-level test; just three types of exercises of 1 minute each. He uses all that to create your personalised exercise routine, which he maps out on an app. Trainerize is also where Neil and you will talk, interact and where you’ll track your progress.
The CapeTownMag experience: For freelance creative director Yolandie Breytenbach, who also works with many major corporate brands, the goal was to have work-life balance. Before working with Neil, she used to feel a lot of stress due to her overwhelming workload. “Exercise is like a reset button,” says Yolandie. “After my morning exercise my glass is full of endorphins and throughout the day I take sips from it; it keeps me going,” says Yolandie.
Neil works out a personal exercise routine for each team member. Image: Neil du Plessis
BOOST THE TEAM’S ENERGY LEVELS
Exercise boosts cardiovascular health, giving you more endurance throughout the day. It also increases endorphin levels which, in turn, increases energy, improves sleep and can help you focus better. “That’s just one piece of the puzzle,” says Neil.
Food is another important aspect. Neils works out an eating plan for each team member based on their goals and body type. The eating plan is based on carb-cycling, which alternates the amount of carbs (not just bread, fruit too) you can eat per day.
The CapeTownMag experience: It helped everyone learn what foods are best for their body. For editor-in-chief, Joonji Mdyogolo, her eating plan helped her pinpoint why she was bloating – milk. “I also realised that I was much lighter and fuller on greens over carbs.” The right food fuels your body and also gets you to your health and fitness goals faster, says Neil. That’s why you “eat to exercise, don’t exercise to eat.”
Neil du Plessis, a vegan, having a plant based meal at The Conscious Kitchen. Image: Neil du Plessis
BUILD THEIR MENTAL RESILIENCE
A team that’s working together on challenges and common goals, stays together. The eating plan, the exercise goals create a shared mission throughout the year. Neil becomes the glue and the guide through his weekly 30 minute to an hour check-in sessions over Zoom and over the app, where he does individual check-ins. It’s like weekly team building sessions.
One of the fun exercises Neil asks during the calls is for everyone to share a health or fitness hack. “Every time I have a coffee, I must have a glass of water with it (next to my coffee cup), I always order it that way when I am at a restaurant, and also do it when I'm home,” says Operations Manager, Sue Ramgathi
The CapeTownMag experience: “Working in our fast-paced environment you can sometimes get lost in the workload,” says Sue. “Working with Neil has helped me realise that everyone faces challenges and if we face them together, we can hack our way through it.”
For Joonji it changed her daily routines: “I’ve noticed that I am more cognizant of my lifestyle since working with Neil. I am binge-watching Netflix less, trying to go to bed earlier and focusing on eating foods that fuel my body.”
You can build muscle without eating protein, says Neil, who competed in weightlifting competitions as a vegan. Image: Neil du Plessis
INCREASE YOUR TEAM’S CONNECTION
Tackling fitness together can help team members form positive relationships and improve communication in the workplace. Neil asks the team three important questions on a weekly basis: What is something you were successful at? What is something that was a challenge? What could you have done differently?
“I call it the happiness challenge,” says Neil. “It bolsters company culture into a personal space and opens the team up to a new level of bonding,” says Neil, who has a diploma in exercise science from HFPA fitness academy and over a decade of experience in training.
The CapeTownMag experience: “I’ve always struggled with social anxiety and working with such an outgoing team was quite challenging,” says junior content producer, Simone Strydom. “The check-in calls where we share our experience with each other and have open conversations, sometimes even about poop, has helped me climb out of my shell. ”
Some teams exercise together during the day. Sue and Yolandie decided to tackle Lions Head at the beginning of the year together, for Sue it was the first time she went up.
Sue (left) and Yolandie (right) tackled Lions Head at the beginning of 2022, 6 months after working with Neil. Getting to the top was one of their fitness goals for the year. Image: Yolandie Breytenbach
IT’S GOOD FOR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
At the end of the day, to work with Neil is a journey of personal development, it’s an investment that a company makes in each team member. Neil knows this is a key aspect of his impact in a company, which is why every week he sends a learning video for the team to watch and discuss in the next check-in call.
Learning the difference between aerobic and anaerobic training helped everyone grasp what kinds of exercises worked best to meet their goals. For example, contrary to popular beliefs, running is not necessarily the best type of exercise to do if you want to lose weight, Neil says. High-intensity interval or resistance training is.
The CapeTownMag experience: “It’s a journey of personal development, and one of the core values of CapeTownMagazine.com is to get out of your comfort zone, because that’s where the magic happens,” says founder and owner Marcus Zandhuis. For Marcus, Neil is an investment in team building, mental health and general health. In the past six months he’s helped his team transform their health and fitness, learn more about their bodies and build resilience.
Neil (right) with Marcus (left) on an early morning hike up Lions Head. Image: Marcus Zandhuis
FIND A PERSONAL TRAINER NEAR YOU IN CAPE TOWN
One of the best things of the Employee Benefits Program is that you have Neil in your pocket 24/7, through his nifty app, called Trainerize. It makes it easy to access your workouts and his advice wherever you go.
Via the app, Neil updates your workouts, tracks your progress, and gives feedback on how you’re doing. It is also a space where you can ask him any questions you might have and to remove an exercise you don’t like.
Each team member also gets individualised progress reports from Neil every 3 months, at which point he also has a goal-setting session with the team where everyone can set new goals.
CONTACT NEIL DU PLESSIS
Our team's holistic "cuddle bear" as some think he is. He's certainly proof you don't need to be hard to get results.
Learn more from Neil: Read Everything you ever wanted to ask a Cape Town based personal trainer.
Find him: 072 309 8746, website, Instagram
Rates: Get the Employees Benefits Program on a quarterly basis. Ask him if he has any specials for companies / CapeTownMagazine.com readers.
Neil has all rounder knowledge, takes on a non-gladiator approach and is a kind, intelligent spirit Image: Neil du Plessis
By Simone Strydom
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