When you’re running an Essex wide activity challenge, who better to have on board with the challenge than ‘the boss of Essex’?
Campaign Ambassador, Karen Laing met up with Chief Executive of Essex County Council, Gavin Jones, at Essex County Cricket Club in Chelmsford.
Gavin had a big presentation to deliver in the evening, but he took some time out to talk to us about why he’s joining in with the challenge and supporting it, as well as his vision for keeping it alive in the county.
He also used the opportunity to relax, and have fun with a bit of cricket practice in the nets with the team.
KL: What do you think the 3030 challenge means to people in Essex?
GJ: I think it’s a great opportunity for people to get more active and it’s an easy way of doing it. There’s no big time commitment. You can do the activity virtually anywhere. It makes it accessible to people who maybe thought exercise wasn’t for them because it was too difficult to get to. That’s certainly how I’m feeling about it.
KL: Are you taking part?
GJ: I certainly am taking part. I’m on track at the moment. My job is so busy that I don’t often get that time.
KL: You’ve mentioned your job is busy. So how to you fit it in? What sort of things do you do?
GJ: I do a lot of fast walking, usually at the end of the day. I have my Fitbit which I often combine with cycling and my Strava so I know what I’ve done and that works really well for me.
It’s about prioritising it. If you think it’s too difficult to do then you probably won’t do it but what I’ve learned is, if you think, ‘actually this is worth doing,’ you can make the time for it. It’s easier than you think.
KL: Does keeping active help you to manage the pressure of your job?
GJ: Without any doubt. I have to do a lot of thinking about things in my job. Getting outside helps me to process things. I come back far more relaxed. There’s no doubt for me that it helps me to do my job.
I fell out of the habit to be honest, so for me this has provided me with the incentive to get back to it and I’ll continue with it well past June.
KL: We know that individuals are enjoying the challenge. How can Essex as a whole benefit from this challenge?
GJ: I think everyone supporting each other. I think when you take on a challenge like this it’s quite easy to get distracted if there’s something that throws off your routine for example and suddenly you get out of the habit.
So I think for the whole of Essex it’s about celebrating what we’re doing, supporting each other: friends, colleagues, family members that are doing it. You can either join in with them or give them encouraging words. There’s nothing quite like someone saying, ‘Wow you’ve done well today.’ It’s just those little things that can make the whole of Essex get much more active and then we’re all feeling healthier and being more active. It’s got to be good.
KL: What can we do to get more people moving?
GJ: I’m really thinking about this beyond June. How can we reach more people?
We need to tell our stories.
We need commitment from public bodies like my own and leaders in organisations modelling that behaviour, saying that we can do this and then telling their stories.
I’m going to be thinking about, ‘how do I take this in the County Council where I’m the Chief Executive and how do I keep it alive?’
I have plenty of opportunities, I blog every week to my staff and go on regular roadshows across the county. I need to constantly check in and remind people that we are still doing this.
It’s about making events that are suitable for all of the family.
The point about this campaign is it’s not just for the super fit, it’s for the old people like me who maybe did sport many years ago and fell out of the habit of it. Whether you’re two years old or 82 years old this can work for you, it’s just a question of designing how it best works for you and working it around your lifestyle.
Over time it will hopefully just become intuitively part of what we do here in Essex as a county. That will be success for me.
You can still join the challenge at: Join the Challenge
Find out more about the Active Essex Foundation or make a donation.