It’s rare for a company to holistically integrate health, fitness and wellbeing into its DNA. But that’s exactly what VideoAmp does every single day. I’m not talking about just setting up a gym in the middle of the office. Of course we have that, but it’s much more than that. It’s about building a winning culture, about helping people achieve the impossible and about making health and fitness available and achievable for everyone. And beyond just the physical rewards, we reward our employees for committing to their health and wellness! This year, we held a Q3 Fitness Challenge where the grand prize is a trip to Kauai, Hawaii! Read on to learn more about our latest Fitness Challenge and the vision that started it all.
Kim Jones sums up the VideoAmp fitness culture:
“Sometimes people can hear about ‘fitness’ culture at a work environment and feel intimidated. They might feel they have to be some sort of star athlete, but that’s really not the case here. VideoAmp encourages people of ALL levels to participate. The goal is to help you be healthy and take care of yourself. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of the business? This collaborative way to work out and learn how to take care of ourselves is what makes it so great here at VideoAmp. You don’t have to just be solo or feel alone. Whether we’re working or working out, we’re doing it together.” - Kim Jones, SVP Client Success
Kim’s sentiment embodies the VideoAmp mission: transforming people’s lives. VideoAmp’s fitness culture is for those who have never tracked a calorie before, who never thought they could run a mile or for anyone who could never do a pull up. It’s a culture that supports all genders, ages, demographics. Physically and mentally, we push each other to constantly reach for higher limits. We know that failure is part of the journey. It’s about making health and fitness a part of your lifestyle, not just something you feel you should do.
When VideoAmp opened its new office in Los Angeles, CEO Ross McCray knew a gym was an important part of the landscape. Employees were encouraged to work with a personal trainer or on their own in the gym, but Ross wanted to take the company’s fitness culture to the next level. In late August 2018, Ross and I came up with our first Fitness Challenge, and subsequently, I began teaching my first fitness classes at VideoAmp. As you’ll see from the testimonials below, the Fitness Challenge at VideoAmp is helping transform people, to empower them to live better, healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Rules for the first challenge were simple: participants had to attend at least four classes a week and had the highest body composition change (percent fat loss along with percent muscle gained). Originally, we kept our participation expectations low. We thought 10-15 people might participate, and we would host one noon class each day. When the forms went out for sign up, Ross and I were blown away. We had 56 participants! We scrambled to add classes, and our anticipated one class a day had now become four. Our 12-week Fitness Challenge created a buzz in the Los Angeles office; people discussed upcoming workouts, how sore they were, and how they had changed their diets to try to win. As Ross and I watched the transformations, and after crowning Data Scientist Brian Landry as our first winner, we knew we had to expand our vision.
All the while the first 12-week Fitness Challenge was taking place, the New York office was asking about getting involved. So, after a visit to New York, Ross came back to headquarters eager to start our second 12-week Fitness Challenge. This one followed much of the same format as the first, although this time it was office vs. office, NY vs. LA, East Coast vs.West Coast. We worked with a gym just blocks from the New York office and set up a similar program where employees could attend classes, discuss nutrition and fitness goals with me, and were even allowed to bring a friend or family member into the challenge. At the end of those 12 weeks, the New York office came out victorious, and we crowned our first female winner Piper Galgano, Senior Director of Business Development.
Josh Warren reflects on this:
“A ton of companies talk a big game about fitness and wellness. But VideoAmp really walks the walk and encourages us to work out even in the middle of the day. I can do a 1 p.m. CrossFit workout and shower at the office. It is not seen as abnormal behavior here; it’s standard practice. At other places I’ve worked, just using the shower in the office is weird." -Josh Warren, Senior Product Manager
Josh is right. Health first is a promoted value here at VideoAmp, and we mean it. Brett Hughes reiterates this:
“I have a strong belief that taking care of mental/physical strength, work performances, relationships – they’re all related together. These all affect the health of an employee. So having wellness integrated into the culture here at VideoAmp is a thoughtful, intelligent choice. VideoAmp leaned into this philosophy early and really does well at supporting wellness for its employees.” - Brett Hughes, Senior Director of Corporate Development
In June 2019, I announced the first company-wide, team-based Q3 fitness challenge. This challenge would allow anyone to sign up, whether your location was New York, Los Angeles, one of our smaller offices, or even if you were a remote employee working from home. The rules were similar to the past challenges, however this challenge’s requirement was to complete at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Exercises could be whatever you wanted, but in the vein of teaching athletes how cross disciplines affect overall fitness, you would not be allowed to do the same thing each day. Athletes would be divided into four teams of 10 (of course again underestimating participation), and the final prize is a group trip to Kauai! When the signup sheet went out, I watched as 40, 50, 60 employees registered. By morning we had 100 signups, and there we were scrambling once again to make it all happen. With an added captain, we drafted five teams of 20, and the challenge began! Stay tuned to hear about the winning team, which will be announced in early September 2019. Will it be A Team Has No Name, Team Clean Jerks, Team AMP, Team Ka Mana Mana or Team Humumunakunakuapua’a?
This challenge has solidified the culture of health and wellness at VideoAmp. This isn’t just about fitness, this is about changing behaviors and working for a company that actually cares about the individual and wants him/her to take time out from his/her day to prioritize health first.
Not only has this challenge integrated health and wellness into the participants' daily routines, but it became a large part of our 2019 all-company summit, Vamplify, which brings every employee to one location over three days to discuss company goals, product demos and to create community. This year’s summit was held in North Hollywood at Universal and occurred during week seven of our latest 12-week Fitness Challenge. For three days we hosted an early-morning class at a nearby CrossFit facility. With 100 challenge participants, almost 80 athletes attended every day. Many of these athletes had never done a CrossFit class before, never tried a pull up or touched a barbell, yet athletes of all levels showed up and worked hard, proudly wearing their team colors and solidifying the community within their teams.
Rickcel Bantog addresses this sentiment:
“It was cool to see everyone’s different levels and experiences. We had over 100 people together in the gym working out in one space. Watching people like Jessica Pritchard, who was a former gymnast; she had crazy movements! You could see a wider scope of everyone’s goals and what they were working on. Everyone has such a unique journey and that was one of the best things to see in person.” - Rickcel Bantog, Front-End Manager
By day three of Vamplify you could feel the community bonds not only at the workout sessions, but at each discussion, dinner and activity. Eric Lakich also addressed this shift:
“It’s helped to actually meet my fellow Vampers – some of the people, I hadn’t previously even met outside of Slack conversations online. Getting real face-time was nice. My team captain, Nick, is in NYC so it was definitely great to be in one place with our captain as a full team. To have everyone in one place and seeing life impact, sharing goals/progress, sharing tips/advice – everything was heightened during Vamplify in-person. It was especially great to have that moment show physical support for your team members. There’s even a positive, visible difference between conversations on our Slack channel pre-Vamplify versus post-Vamplify.” - Eric Lakich, VP of Engineering
What both Rickcel and Eric address here are the immeasurables: the community, the relationships, the shift in culture. How many all-company events do you know of that aren’t based around food and alcohol, but instead waking up early, working out and making sure there is enough healthy food provided at the catered meals?
Sarah Greilsamer addresses her change in mindset:
“My personal goal changed a lot. Initially, it was to lose 30 pounds, but now, it’s not about weight anymore. Now, I want to feel in control of my body. I want to understand how to take care of it and how my actions affect it. In doing this challenge, I also discovered a passion and talent for strength-based health activities, so I want to continue lifting, and eventually attend some Powerlifting competitions.” - Sarah Greilsamer, Marketing Scientist
Misti Mordoch adds:
“The biggest thing I learned was that I could be fit, at home. I can now definitely make 30-minutes for myself to take care of me. Previously, I would defer to helping my family or doing something for someone else...or honestly, loafing on the couch. I now make my health a priority. The fitness culture at VideoAmp has taught me ways to take care of myself. Everyone I can tell, about VideoAmp, I do. Because VideoAmp actually cares about the people that work here.” - Misti Mordoch, Principal Product Manager
Misti and Sarah’s changing mindsets are just glimpses into how VideoAmp has helped foster relationships with health and wellness. As this challenge comes to a close, there may only be one team that wins, but it has become so much more than that. At VideoAmp, we want to teach people that health is not something you can “save up for” or hope you have time for later in life. Health must be your first priority. When you’re on an airplane the attendant always tells you to put your oxygen mask on first, then help others. We feel the same here at VideoAmp. You can’t buy health; you can’t hope health happens later. We want you to have it now, and it is our mission to help each and every employee on this lifelong journey.
To learn more about VideoAmp’s winning culture and other “Vamper” perks, visit About Us.
Jessica Suver has been coaching fitness for over 10 years. Formerly an English Professor, Jessica left teaching to pursue her passion for health and wellness and helping others. Athletically, she was on the junior national team for rowing and was a collegiate rower. She has competed at the highest levels of CrossFit: 6x Regional competitor and a 2013 Games team member. She is currently the Director of Health and Wellness at VideoAmp.