Monday, 16 September 2013

Taj Group Hops on to Stepathlon Bandwagon & Asks Employees to Keep Walking

By Sourish Bhattacharyya

I WAS impressed some time back to find out from Pallavi Singh, MarComm Manager of the Crowne Plaza Okhla, New Delhi, that she briskly climbs up the eight stories of the hotel four times a day to stay fit and trim. “All of us have moments at work when we have time to kill,” Pallavi said. “I use those moments to get some aerobic exercise.”
The Taj hotels in Delhi and Mumbai are participating in
Stepathlon 2013, which requires each employee of the
organisation to walk 10,000 steps a day for 100 days
(Image: Courtesy of www.stepathlon.com)
The discussion came back to me when I heard (over lunch at House of Ming) Satyajeet Krishnan, General Manager, Taj Mahal Hotel, Mansingh Road, New Delhi, and the Director of Public Relations, Bhavna Mehta, comparing notes on the number of steps they had walked that day. They checked each other’s pedometers to verify the figures they were sharing. What, I wondered, were they up to?
The Taj Group has joined the ‘Stepathlon’ movement that has seen the country’s top corporate houses get hooked on to its message of encouraging their employees to walk 10,000 steps a day for 100 days in a row. The 100 days started on September 12 and will continue till December 20 this year. Last year, according to the pedometer’s website, 21,237 ‘Stepathletes’ from 143 companies across 132 Indian cities and 19 countries participated in the exercise. Together, they walked 14.5 billion steps, averaging 13,555 per person, and 77% of them lost, on average, 4.03 kilos. “Stepathlon’s simplicity, relevance and accessibility make it universally applicable, promoting health as a right and not a privilege,” Mahindra & Mahindra Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra is quoted as commenting on www.stepathlon.com.
‘Stepathlon’ is being introduced in the Taj hotels in Delhi and Mumbai as a pilot project. The participating hotels last year, the pedometer’s website informs us, included properties of the ITC, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, The Park and Sheraton. The Park hotels were the first in the industry to adopt Stepathlon as a way of life two years ago and since then, as many as 100 employees of the hospitality company have walked 180,922,465 steps, according to its Director of Public Relations, Ruchika Mehta.
Old World Hospitality's spokesperson Mukta Kapoor informed me after reading this post that her company, which operates the restaurants at the India Habitat Centre as well as the standalones Chor Bizarre and Indian Accent in New Delhi, has also joined Stepathlon. "It's a lot of fun," she says. Adds Punam Mohandas, a writers and hospitality PR professional: "Some Thai hotels are already doing this, although they have not restricted themselves to a 100-day movement. It's a permanent feature and is seen as a measure of corporate social responsibility (CSR)."
For the hospitality sector, it’s a big step in the desired direction. The nature of work in hotels is clearly not the best for the health of its employees — odd and long working hours in an air-conditioned environment, late and erratic meal times, and endless entertaining over elaborate meals accompanied by alcohol in varying quantities. Hotels and restaurants therefore owe it to their employees to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Participation in Stepathlon is the first step. But it shouldn’t stop at 100 days. As Johnnie Walker says it, “Keep Walking”.