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Ja'Warren Hooker speaking at GeekWire Startup Day 2016.
Ja’Warren Hooker speaking at GeekWire Startup Day 2016.

Ja’Warren Hooker, a former Olympian and UW track star, sees a problem in big tech companies — employees aren’t healthy.

A HIT trainer running a mini-fitness class at GeekWire Startup Day.
A HIT trainer demonstrates exercises for the office during a mini fitness class at GeekWire Startup Day.

Employees aren’t exercising enough. They aren’t sleeping enough. They aren’t drinking enough water. They aren’t eating enough, or if they are, it isn’t the right things, he said during a talk at GeekWire Startup Day 2016, before leading attendees through a series of exercises designed for the office.

Hooker decided that he could do something about it and founded his own fitness company, Hooker Integrated Training, which caters to big tech companies — including gaming company Valve  to create in-house training programs and to integrate other wellness activities into the workday.

“Healthy employees are better employees,” he said. “So the best advice I have for companies is to care about health.”

Hooker’s company generally works with big corporations, but he stressed that employee health is just as important for startups — perhaps more so because startup employees are often more stressed out and over-worked than their corporate counterparts. From his personal experience as the founder of HIT, he attested that startup life can be incredibly tiring, so its important to make time for health.

[Watch the full video of Hooker’s Startup Day talk below.]

You have to stay healthy to accomplish anything work-related, he said.

Ja'Warren Hooker during his UW track career.
Ja’Warren Hooker during his UW track career.

With that in mind, here is Hooker’s list of ten daily tips to keep you (and your startup) healthy:

  1. Get 6-8 hours of sleep per night.
  2. Eat a breakfast that includes protein and carbohydrates. “Breakfast is not a coffee,” he said.
  3. Drink 8+ glasses of water per day. “And I’m being very conservative about that,” he warned.
  4. Pack your lunch so you don’t impulse eat.
  5. Have three well-balanced meals per day. “Plus snacks,” he added.
  6. Eat every 2.5 hours and alternate meals and snacks so you never get too hungry to work effectively.
  7. Get 30-45 min of exercise. “Our company only exists because you don’t exercise that much every day,” he said.
  8. Invest in self care (massages, facials, meditation, yoga). “Remember that work is not everything,” he said.
  9. Take your vitamins.
  10. Have some fun! Your startup should be your most fun thing that you do and it should be part of your healthy lifestyle, Hooker concluded.

At the end of his talk, Hooker returned to his area of athletic expertise: sprinting. He told the audience that building a successful startup wasn’t about being either a sprinter or a marathoner, but about being both. Having the capability to run fast when you need to and the energy to keep on going, mile after mile, each have their proper time and place, he said.

But to be able to run at all, you have to be healthy first.

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