Strong bodies = strong minds = a better business!

Oct 21, 2014

A business is only as strong as its people. For serial entrepreneur and CanvasPop co-founder Nazim Ahmed, that means making investments that will help his team up their mental game, and it begins with fitness.

There has been no shortage of literature that asserts better health leads to improved workplace productivity, reduced absenteeism and less drain on the corporate group benefits plan.

But Nazim doesn’t just give his team “gym memberships and pray that they go.” He strives to create a culture of self-improvement that attracts and nurtures ambitious individuals willing to reach beyond the status quo.

“It’s part of a holistic and overarching approach to business,” said the 38-year-old. “Once you create a certain type of culture, it attracts a certain type of person.”

For a business to succeed, it needs a great product, supported by a strong business model, executed by a strong team. A positive mental attitude is critical to grow a business, since the team must be willing to pursue ambitious goals, and push beyond their comfort zones into the unknown. As the old saying goes, “a strong body makes the mind strong.”

Nazim is the co-founder of a number of Ottawa businesses that now operate under one common brand, Workshopx. These include DNA 11, which uses your DNA profile to create a work of art, CanvasPop, which turns your photos into art on canvas, and Crated, an e-commerce marketplace that helps artists sell their work.

As his team continues to develop new ideas they can bootstrap into new ventures, Nazim is leading by example.

“A lot of things happen in family and business,” he said. “You have a lot of people who are feeding off your energy. My focus is always to give out as much positive energy as possible to all those around me, my family as well as my employees.”

But like many busy entrepreneurs trying to balance work with a young family, he has had his own struggles to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“I’ve been through those valleys where I haven’t been in such great physical shape, and it’s always affected other aspects of my life. And I’ve been in other valleys where I’ve taken good care of myself and it’s boosted everything else.”

He came to Free Form Fitness just over a year ago, and found the help he needed through its personalized, one-on-one coaching, and the routine of a set schedule that drove him to work against clear goals.

“This allowed me to build the consistency I was lacking, by focusing on the long-term versus the short-term pleasure of eating that thing,” he said.

Nutrition has proven to be a critical part of the process. Indian by descent, Nazim has come to realize that his body responds best to a gluten-free diet that’s heavy on vegetables and light on meat proteins.

“I don’t think most people experiment with changes in their diet for long enough, or take enough stock of how they feel depending on what they eat,” he said.

Nazim considers FFF the standard for personalized training in Ottawa. He has encouraged his whole senior team to join FFF, and subsidizes the cost. His goal is to provide the same benefit to as many of his local employees as possible. Workshopx has 43 staff in Ottawa and 20 in Las Vegas.

“Creating an environment where people are becoming healthier is very powerful,” Nazim said. “It’s very bonding. Focusing on self-improvement is part of a bigger picture. It’s not just about getting in shape, but making the business better for our customers.”

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