Health and Fitness: “It’s Like Internet Security — It’s a Journey”

With indoor walking trails, a full service gym and nutritious meals readily available, the ability to make healthy choices isn’t exactly tough at the Castle, Rackspace’s main office in San Antonio.

But the truth is, lots of us don’t make those healthy choices. The free soda here at the Castle is considered a major perk, consumed by many. Like the rest of the country, too many of us are overweight, or too sedentary for our own good.

In an effort to motivate Rackers to take wellness more seriously, Rack Health held its first Health & Wellness Expo last week, complete with speaker sessions, vendor booths and — hey, gotta get ’em in the door — a lot of swag.

“This is a way to say, in a big way, that health and wellness matter,” said Sharon Noneman, Rackspace’s director of benefits. “We’re not just going to tell people this is important any more. We’re going to show them.”

Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf and Crossfit founder Greg Glassman kicked off the event, each driving home the importance of fitness, as well as a holistic approach to health and wellness.

Elmendorf shared the personal journey he undertook to “beat the family plan,” which, based on his father’s medical history, included ongoing weight problems and a heart attack by the time he was in his 50s.

“It was not my destiny to die at 56,” he told the crowd, “It was actually my choice. I just didn’t realize I was making that choice every single day.”

To turn things around, Elmendorf changed his entire diet, began doing yoga and, embracing what he termed the “complete opposite of yoga,” began doing Crossfit. He went on to drop more than 100 pounds and has considerably reduced his risk of cardiovascular trouble.

He emphasized that it wasn’t a quick turnaround.

“Health, fitness and wellness is not a destination,” he said. “It’s like Internet security — it’s a journey.”

Glassman, who opened the first Crossfit gym in Santa Cruz, California in 1995,  echoed Elmendorf’s sentiments, noting that exercise alone isn’t enough — the right diet is also crucial.

He said when he started Crossfit, which offers short, intense and largely varied workouts, “there were really two other things out there — long distance running and body building.”

Neither, he said, offered the full range of motion necessary for people trying to get fit.

Glassman gave a nod to 8808 Crossfit, a Crossfit affiliate for Rackspace employees that offers sessions in San Antonio as well as at other Rackspace offices and data centers worldwide.

After the speakers were done, an inspired crowd headed to the expo area, which included more than 30 benefit, health, wellness, fitness and nutrition exhibitors. With more than 200 Rackers in attendance at the start, and more trickling in throughout the day, Noneman branded the first Health & Wellness Expo a success.

“But it’s just the beginning,” she said. “This is just the first of events like these as well as other initiatives to get Rackers motivated.”

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