Getting Active in the Workplace

Stay active and look after your wellbeing whilst working.

Someone rolling up a yoga mat

Have you have been thinking about setting up an activity in your workplace, but don’t know where to start? We spoke to Anna, a CSSC member from London who successfully set up Yoga in her office with a little help from CSSC Physical Activity Fund.

Here is her story.

Tell us about yourself and your role

I am a PIP2 Investigator in the International Corruption Unit. I am from Liverpool but relocated to London to complete my PIP2 training in CEOP Investigations and transferred departments in 2019.

When did you first considered setting up activities in your workplace and what made you want to do it?

In December 2019 I completed my 300 hour Yoga teacher qualification as it is a passion of mine to become a Yoga teacher alongside my full time role with the NCA.  I had been practising my teaching on colleagues on our lunch break and finding my teaching style, adapting it to giving the NCA officers the much needed and deserved rest and restoration from their busy roles. I wanted to set up a regular class making them available to all staff in the Spring Gardens site, providing the equipment and creating a welcoming relaxing environment for the group.  I wanted to make Yoga affordable and accessible for officers who often work long hours in stressful environment or can’t afford the expensive Yoga studio rates. Coming from a CEOP background I was keen to incorporate a wellbeing practise in the work place to create a network of support for people.

When did you learn about the Physical Activity Fund- was it before you were considering setting something up?

As I was looking into the sessions, finding a room and setting up my insurance, one of the girls that came to class suggested the CSSC Physical Activity fund which I had not heard of this before so I contacted CSSC and submitted the Physical Activity Fund application.  I had considered buying the equipment myself but would not have been able to fund this.

Have you always been keen on Yoga and being active?

I have always had an interest in health and wellness and ways to manage my Anxiety and my energy levels. I started practising Yoga about 10 years ago as HIIT work outs and running where leaving me run down and exhausted. I loved Yoga after my first class when it was clear it combines exercise and movement with the meditation and relaxation side of the practise.

Tell us about the sessions which you set up

I was delighted to receive funding from the Physical Activity Fund and purchased Yoga mats, blocks, straps and essential oils. I taught the sessions myself, organising them a meeting room in Spring Gardens, I booked the room for a regular slot after 5.30pm so it did not interfere with key NCA meeting at peak times. I completed a risk assessment for using the room for Yoga classes. I started with a weekly class at 5.30pm on a Tuesday, as from speaking to colleagues interested in attending, this was a suitable time for them to attend after work. I sent an update to the Global to inform staff at Spring of the sessions, posted leaflets in the building and emailed people I knew had an interest in Yoga or trying out Yoga.

The sessions ran from January to March for 8 weeks. Sadly, due to the Pandemic the classes were stopped to adhere to Covid-19 restrictions. I took the sessions online on Zoom and for the majority of 2020 have offered online sessions once or twice a week to give people access to some daily zen whilst working from home or in isolation.  Officers working in CEOP during the Pandemic where still working long operational hours and I was able to give the spare mats to these officers to use to access a Yoga practise during a busy work period and the pandemic.  I was asked to a live Yoga session on Zoom for carers week, giving NCA officers who also have caring responsibility the chance to have a session for some relaxation and restoration for themselves.

How do you think the sessions have impacted you and your colleagues?

I think the sessions had a positive impact on myself and my colleagues. It allowed several people to try Yoga when they had intended to get into the practise for years but it was never accessible or they felt too inexperienced. The low pricing of my sessions and accessibility at work meant it gave them the chance to try the practise out and feel the benefits. The sessions grew in popularity and on most weeks were fully booked, there was a lovely group sentiment in the sessions, where people met colleagues they had not met before and we chatted about Yoga, any struggles or challenges and how good it felt to add some breathing and relaxation into our day. I hope the sessions gave people an insight into a practise to help them relax and restore especially as the sessions where just before the global pandemic of Covid.

What would be your top tips for others interested in setting something up?

Definitely to speak to people and gather up interest in the sessions so you can scope how popular they would be. Speak to CSSC to involve them and also help promote the classes to CSSC members. I found being organised was the key to running the sessions smoothly- so I kept a spreadsheet of the bookings and payments and this also helps keep an audit.

Anything else?

I hope that the sessions gave staff the chance to find some calm and balance in the hectic world and took this into the pandemic. Some feedback from the sessions

“Thanks Anna, Really enjoyed the session. It was a great gentle session and feeling zen like and ready to take on the world”.

“The sessions were the perfect way to ‘decompress’ from a day of work.  In particular, as a CEOP officer, the sessions helped me to turn off my work brain at the end of a day or at lunch to allow for a break and a refocus of energy. Anna is a very personable teacher who makes yoga accessible to everyone.  I don’t recall a session that she didn’t make us laugh, which puts everyone at ease and is another way to help deal with the stresses of day to day life. I’m grateful to Anna and CSSC for making the classes possible.”

“I absolutely loved the sessions and felt so many physical and mental benefits from attending, all of the efforts you make with your classes (playlists, candles and the amazing lavender oils) were so appreciated and allowed us to forget we were in a dreary SG meeting room for an hour at least”