|The sporting spirit
|Odebrecht members give their views on
the importance of physical activity for
achieving a better quality of life
|written by ◦ Cláudio Lovato Filho
photos by ◦ Élcio Carriço
They say their lives have changed since they started doing sports on a regular basis. They go to work with a positive attitude, rarely experience health problems, and encourage their relatives, friends and colleagues to take up a sport and do it often, with a disciplined frame of mind. The following personal statements are from Odebrecht Group members who have made sports part of their lives. As a result, they are getting daily rewards, including better physical and emotional health. The business world is an environment that is known to foster stress and all its attendant problems, but that is changing for these people. This is because they know that responsibility for their quality of life is squarely on their shoulders. Their new attitude is enabling them to get more enjoyment out of life and be more productive at the workplace.
“Your health doesn’t just belong to you,” says Marcos Lima, the officer responsible for OCS – Odebrecht Administradora e Corretora de Seguros, the Group’s captive insurance broker, quoting the organization’s founder, Norberto Odebrecht. “It belongs to the Group, your family, the people to whom you matter most.” Marcos, who turned 62 in May, is a marathon runner. He ran in the 1992 São Silvestre Race in Rio, and that was just the beginning. He later competed in three marathons in New York (in 1996, 1997 and 2003) and in 2004 he went to Berlin, where he qualified for the Boston marathon of that same year. Five or six times a week, Marcos goes for an 80-minute run in the city of Salvador or São Paulo. During the nine-week period leading up to a marathon, he runs two hours a day, six days a week. Marcos is passionate about racing, but he started running out of concern for his health rather than a passion for sports.
Marcos Lima started doing sports regularly in 1988. Previously, he had often had minor health problems, and slept badly. After an annual check-up at Odebrecht, he was told to give up his sedentary lifestyle. With the guidance of a personal trainer, he started out by going for walks. His regimen began to have a positive effect and his health improved. Then Marcos started running. “At first I trotted some then walked some. It changed my life. My body began functioning much better and my sleep improved. At that point I learned that we should focus on developing our health instead of just maintaining it.” In 1990, his drive to set the bar higher led to a life-changing decision: Marcos Lima was going to run in the São Silvestre marathon. He started training for the race in 1991 and ran it in 1992. “I realized that the challenge I set for myself in sports had everything to do with Odebrecht,” says Marcos. “That encouraged me even more.”
Rossana’s passion for volleyball
Doing sports has also revolutionized the life of Carlos Armando Paschoal, Managing Director of Odebrecht’s Portuguese subsidiary, Bento Pedroso Construções – BPC. “My life is divided into before and after a race,” says Carlos Armando, 58. He started running in Mexico City in 1991, when he was Odebrecht’s senior officer responsible for projects in Mexico. Before that, Carlos Armando had played team sports in Brazil, especially soccer. Soon after he arrived in Mexico, he started running, since he had no one to play soccer with and he was determined not to fall into a sedentary lifestyle. “Besides, my cholesterol levels were high,” he recalls. On Saturdays and Sundays, he ran at a training center 3,200 above sea level. When air pollution in the Mexican capital spiked, he had to make do with a treadmill. “I developed a taste for running and haven’t stopped since,” he recalls.
The joy of seeing the ball rolling
In 1995, Carlos Armando moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s a beautiful city, with flat terrain, which is every runner’s dream.” While in the Argentine capital, he started doing long-distance running: about 25 km in 3 hours. By 2003, he was in Portugal, where he started racing in half-marathons. There were two that year, on 25 de Abril Bridge and Vasco da Gama Bridge. He ran both races again in 2004.
Today, his routine involves running 7 km in 40 minutes, five days a week. Since he started running in 1991, Carlos Armando has lost weight (3.5 kg), given up smoking altogether (he used to smoke sporadically), has a stronger immune system, enjoys his meals more, and has a lower heart rate. “My quality of life has improved a lot.” He is emphatic about the impact that doing sports has had on his professional performance: “All leaders should be as concerned about their physical and emotional health as they are about the financial health of their business.”
Álvaro Novis, the officer responsible for Finance at Odebrecht S.A., could not agree more. He, too, is convinced that, when done properly and sensibly, physical activity makes people more productive. “People who do sports have a better disposition. Companies around the globe are becoming more aware of this. It is easy to see that there is more awareness in the business world about the importance of people’s health and quality of life.” Now 61, Álvaro started running in 1990. Before that, however, he spent six months “learning to walk” with the help of a personal trainer. He then weighed 88 kilos (nearly 200 lbs.). Now, his weight ranges from 79 to 81 kg. However, he does not believe that weight loss is the best way to measure the improvement in his quality of life. What matters most to him are the benefits to his physical and psychological well-being and how they improve his work and life in general.
Álvaro does not run against the clock; his goals are focused on his heart rate: he strives to keep it between 125 and 150 beats per minute. “It’s important to have a trainer, at least at first, to prevent injury and keep you within your limits. It’s also essential to have regular medical checkups,” says Álvaro, who also does weight training.
The first step: medical advice
After taking part in several competitions, including a relay race, Álvaro had one of his most challenging and enjoyable sports experiences on September 12, 2004. That day, he took part in the Buenos Aires Half-Marathon, running with 3,700 marathoners, including 300 Brazilians. Álvaro ran 21.5 km in 2 hours and 19 minutes, and his heart rate stayed between 140 and 155 beats per minute. The results surpassed his and his trainer Felipe Domingues’s expectations and encouraged Álvaro to take on his next challenge. On April 16th, he ran in the Island of Florianópolis Circuit in southern Brazil. In this relay race, about 300 teams of eight run the 150 km course. “Sports have to be a pleasure, they should be part of your life. They shouldn’t be forced on you.”
Adriano Jucá’s enjoyment of sports is threefold. The officer responsible for Legal Affairs at Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, Adriano has been a triathlete since 1999. He started out with running and swimming; then he added cycling. His first race was in 1999, in Caiobá, Paraná: a short-course triathlon (750 m swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run). In 2000, he started competing in longer races with Olympic distances (twice as long as the short-course triathlon). In December 2002 he took part in the half-Ironman in Pirassununga, São Paulo: 1,900 m swim, 90 km bike and 21km run. Then, in 2004, he lived every triathlete’s dream: entering the Ironman competition. In Florianópolis, on May 29th, between 7 am and 8:30 pm, Adriano swam 3,800 m, rode 180 km and ran 42.195 km without a break. He achieved his main objective – finishing the race.
“It’s a thrill when you reach the finish line,” says Adriano. “People are there to cheer you on – including many friends and acquaintances. You think back and remember all the dedication, all the effort involved in training for the event, which took 18 to 25 hours per week. You feel you’re overcoming your limits, and it’s well worth it.” Adriano plans to compete again in 2005. This time he will be in a different category: ages 35 to 39. In 2004 he was in the 30- to 34-year-old group.
Braskem has its own training program
Doing sports is a way of life for Adriano Jucá. His wife, Juliana, 30, is a personal trainer and supervises Marcos Lima’s workouts. Adriano and Juliana’s friends are mostly athletes. Therefore, sports are also part of their social life. At work, Adriano encourages colleagues to keep fit. “I try to set an example to influence people to take up healthy habits.” He thinks the business world’s attitude towards fitness has undergone a sea change. “I can see the change and I think the media has a lot to do with it, because they publicize the benefits of sports and the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. I’ve seen companies giving more and more encouragement to their members to improve their quality of life, and Odebrecht is a good example.”
In addition to being a triathlete, Adriano takes part in adventure challenges, which seek to integrate sports and nature. In 2003, he and Juliana took part in the Ecomotion Pro, the biggest adventure competition in Brazil, held in the Chapada Diamantina region of Bahia. The four-member teams (all including both men and women) ran and rode 500 km and shot the rapids in a little over five days. However, Adriano and Juliana have taken on an even bigger challenge: in October 2004, they went to Nepal to cover a route beginning in Lukla (2,800 m above sea level), and ending at the base of Mount Everest (5,700 m above sea level) in just 10 days.
Juliana has taken part in the Ironman competition in Hawaii, which is the triathlete’s equivalent of the World Cup. In 2003, she was the highest-ranking Brazilian woman in her category in four years. In 2005, Adriano and Juliana intend to compete in the Florianópolis Ironman, and the next Ecomotion Pro. They will have to slow down a bit later on this year, however, because Juliana is expecting a baby. They both feel that that is the best prize of all.