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FreshBooks employees develop fresh ways to stay fit

Feb 15th 2011
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Sometimes an idea just reaches a tipping point and everything cascades from there. While no one is sure what specifically instigated it, this year FreshBooks has taken its fitness activities to a new level. While always an active group, something inspired company employees to come up with more fitness activities.

FreshBooks is an online invoicing company that services small businesses and works with accountants to help their clients. Since its first employee, Toronto-based FreshBooks has been offering a $200 lifestyle credit as an incentive toward a healthy lifestyle.

Some of the things this credit has been used for include: gym memberships, stocking a home gym, running shoes, workout gear, yoga classes, hockey equipment, climbing gear, ski equipment, and marathon entry fees. It's an open ended way for the company to support all the different activities the employees might choose to enhance their lives. And, just because something is good doesn’t mean it can’t get better.

“Last year was the first year we started the hundred pushup challenge, but we want to make sure it’s a weekly thing that doesn’t stop", said Kasey Bayne, accounting ambassador at FreshBooks. "What better way to beat the 3 p.m. slump than a bit of physical activity?”

This year the firm also started offering a P90X workout class every Monday night and ice hockey every other Friday. Hockey is an open scrimmage starting at 4 p.m., so participating gives the added bonus of being able to sneak out of work a little early.

The company's version of The Biggest Loser is new this year, too. Each participant paid $30 to join, which will fund the various prizes. Monthly prizes are awarded for the biggest percentage of weight loss that month and the grand prize will be awarded at the end of three months. The participants share tips and keep each other motivated. By the end of the second week, the leader had already lost 3.2 percent of his or her body fat, and that is motivating everyone else to work hard to catch up.

With so many options and so many ways to make it work for employees, it’s no surprise that the majority of the company's 60 staffers are participating in some way, and watching the changes in themselves and each other.

"I cannot believe the change in myself. Coming as a lifelong non-athlete who spends at least 10 hours a day at a desk, I was finally ready to make a change. My first pushup day, I could barely do 10. Then, with lots of hard work and encouragement from the team, since my first pushup challenge last summer, I can now do 90! I can barely believe it myself", said Bayne.

"From a non-runner, to building up to running 5 kilometers, then 10 kilometers – it wouldn’t have been possible without the support and team motivation that we have here at FreshBooks. I have to say, I’m in the best shape of my life. Who would have guessed that would even be possible for a non-athletic computer addict like me?" Bayne said.

Of course expanding to new things doesn’t mean they have dropped some of the basics. Since they began participating six years ago FreshBooks will still have two teams, a super-competitive and a just for fun team that take part in the CN Tower Climb for the World Wildlife Foundation. Last year, the competitive team finished third, had the second fastest woman climber, and both teams completed the run in less than 20 minutes.

FreshBooks is making getting fit easy, available, social, and fun. Together, they keep coming up with new and creative ways to encourage health and fitness.  

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