The Carousel Culture Podcast

We work hard to create an amazing company culture. Listen as we explore the subtle details of what makes Carousel an amazing place to work!

EP003 - 30 mins a day with Amber Ward


Can you block off 30 minutes of your workday to exercise and move your body, not including lunch break? 

Exercise. People have a thousand reasons not to do it. You sit down and start working in the morning and realize you have been staring at your computer the whole day without getting up. Is this you? Then this episode is for you.

Join Amber Ward, Marketing Director for Carousel Digital Signage, as she shares her exercise tips with Tightrope Media Systems co-founder and CEO JJ Parker. 

Key takeaways

Some intellectual workers who just use their brains at work the whole day may find it a daunting task to get up and move around.  

Follow Amber and learn what she does with 30 minutes to work out. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Amber used to go to the gym in her building to run or do weights. When the gym closed down for Covid protocols, she got her own stuff and started doing workouts at home. 

Exercise for Amber is a mental thing that clears her mind and allows her to step away from the computer. There's no excuse, even if your days are full of meetings. Start blocking off 30 minutes on your calendar at a specific time every day. 

Some people don't like to exercise. 30 minutes of riding a spin bike, running on a treadmill, lifting weights, pushups, and jumping jacks seem daunting. But you can do something else like walk your dog, run with your headphones on, throw balls in the backyard and not think of it as exercise. Just get up and move.

Listen in if you want to be happier and like your teammates better. Get over the afternoon slump and become highly productive the whole day. Not just half of the day.

Show Full Transcript...

JJ Parker: Amber, you are one of the most consistent 30 minute a day. EHRs that is at carousel.

Amber Ward: well, maybe that you know of

JJ Parker: Maybe that I know that's true. That's true. I am only spying on your calendar. Like the most.

Amber Ward: so far, I don't have it on there yet, I need to get it

JJ Parker: But you always tell me all I'm going to be, I'll be right back. I gotta go, go get my 30. So for people who don't know, which I hope isn't is, I hope everybody knows, but I do think that sometimes this little policy gets lost in the shuffle or people forget to do it. Our 30 minutes a day policy is that I expect everybody in the company.

To go move their body for 30 minutes a day during the Workday, not including lunch.

Amber Ward: Yup.

JJ Parker: So to me, the reason we do that is because we are all like, you know, intellectual workers, we all just like use our brains for our jobs. Which means that we just set our computer like all day long and it's super easy to do.

Sit there and not actually move much like for the whole day.

Amber Ward: Yup.

JJ Parker: So, tell me, like, what do you generally do for your 30 minutes a day?

Amber Ward: Wow. I've always like, I've always been an exerciser and I've always enjoyed it. And prior to COVID we have a gym in our building and I would go to the gym, so I'd do ad run or I'd do weights or whatever. But then that got closed down. And so I just got all my own stuff. I know never go back to the gym again, and I do it at home, which is awesome.

Cause it's just like right there. But like, Yeah. I do I got a bike and I got some pretty weights and I got some like stretching, armband things, and I know yoga mat and I mentally make a note that every day at 10, because that's Minneapolis, lunchtime. So I know people should be eating or something. Not, they won't need

JJ Parker: podcast about that later.

Amber Ward: You must eat during your work day. Yeah. So I I've always done it at 10. And I just, if I don't, Like, sometimes I can't, sometimes your day just gets away from you and you're crazy busy and it doesn't happen, but I am super strict about trying to make it happen because I, I am not one to exercise solely for, you know, I don't, I'm not, I'm not trying to become.

JJ Parker: Like,

Amber Ward: World

JJ Parker: trying to get super red.

Amber Ward: and it is so, like, what's the word? For me, exercise is such a mental thing. It clears my mind. It allows me to step away from the computer. It refreshes me, I can think clearer. It's just like, I, and then obviously like all around. It's good for you in general. So, Yeah.

that's, that's what I do.

And I need to start, I, what, I, I think we were talking about this just before we started recording, but I, I think I'm going to start blocking off 30 minutes on my calendar at a specific time every day. And every day it's can happen at the same time. Cause sometimes I have meetings, but if I can get it in earlier than then I have that 30 minutes back.


JJ Parker: Yeah,

Amber Ward: but

JJ Parker: that's a great, that's a great suggestion. Like I talked with Paul, a few episodes back about time-blocking and

Amber Ward: And that's why I was thinking of that

JJ Parker: Yeah.

Amber Ward: because of that podcast yet

JJ Parker: Well, all those reasons that you listed for why you exercise are awesome. I mean, just to reiterate them, I mean, you're saying that like, it makes you think clearer, right?

It gives you a reset.

Amber Ward: Me happier in general, like

JJ Parker: that's. Yeah, that's

Amber Ward: So you're like a better person to work with. Right. If you're happier and they don't have to be things I run on the treadmill or lift weights or bike or whatever, you can go for a walk or take your animal out for a walk or play with your cat or whatever you want to do, but like get off the computer.

JJ Parker: out of your chair, right?

Amber Ward: Right.

JJ Parker: Yeah. And I know like you've done. Like sometimes I hear you like, Hey, I'm going to go like, take a hike, you know, with my mom for a little while. Right? Like those are such awesome. Mental breaks during the day and you know, just to

Amber Ward: know a lot of things can happen during those times. Like lots of times when I step away. I mean, really? You should just not be,

thinking of work. I think

JJ Parker: yeah,

Amber Ward: sometimes when you're not thinking about the thing you're working on, then something comes to mind, right? Like, I'll be there. I mean, it's the same old thing where you're like, I wouldn't have a shower and this idea came to me or whatever, same thing with exercise.

Like sometimes you just need to, you know, step away from your, the words on the page or whatever program you have open.

JJ Parker: Yup. Yeah. Inspiration and creativity strikes like kind of when

Amber Ward: in the weirdest

JJ Parker: is a little bit at rest or not, or thinking about something else, right? Yeah. Yeah. Just, I mean, just so we're super clear, like my motivation for having everybody. 30 minutes a day is, is again exactly what you'd explained. Like I want people to be more creative.

I want them to be happier. I want them to treat their co you know, like their teammates better. Right. I want them to get over the afternoon slump. So they, they are like highly productive the whole day. Not just like half of the day.

Amber Ward: yep. Another thing too, in that what like the whole like creative inspiration thing, because I have a, I have a hard time sometimes remembering that This is like not a total sidetrack there, but sometimes I have a hard time remembering that brainstorming is part of the process, right? So if I'm sitting there and I'm not actively working on something and I'm brainstorming something or, you know, letting it just flash itself out the same thing with exercise, right.

That like that step away can be that. But sometimes it can be that time where your brain is flushing. But you have to remember that that is part of the process, right? Like, so trying to remind yourself that, Hey, this is also part of my work day. Like it's helping me refocus or

JJ Parker: Yeah, absolutely. Like, like I like kind of what you're proposing is like, like use X use this exercise time as like, almost like a dual purpose time, like both to sorta like, like, refresh your physical state. Actually, let it be a time where your brain can kind of like wander and think like don't just distract yourself by, you know, exercising and like watching TV at the same time or something.

Cause sometimes, sometimes like, like the body movement combined with like no other stimulus can allows your brain like to really flourish. It's kinda like, walking meditation, if you've ever kind of like done that. So slow to like, you know, walk with, without your AirPods in your ears, without music, without anything just like walk in silence for a little while, and you'd be amazed what pops into your head

Amber Ward: Right. Yep. Exactly.

JJ Parker: unless you're walking and listening to this podcast and that's okay.


Amber Ward: Or walking and doing the podcast. Cause that's what I'm

JJ Parker: Oh, yeah, I and doing the podcast. Yeah, walking meetings too, like, especially in the summer, like,

Amber Ward: Oh yeah.

JJ Parker: you know, put your headphones in and take, take like, take a team zoom call while walking around.

Amber Ward: Yeah,

JJ Parker: be totally fine.

Amber Ward: Actually, it's funny too, because as we, we did a podcast before this and we had our video cameras on and then on this one, we turned them off and I'm not sitting at my computer, but it's funny how much more, I don't want to say engaged. But I was thinking while you were asking the questions and this is more like a conversation, right.

So if you're in a meeting and having a conversation versus like thinking of what the next thing you got to say or get into the meeting this way, you're just having like an organic conversation with somebody instead of like processing.

JJ Parker: Yeah. Awesome. So you are currently doing a podcast and walking around.

Amber Ward: Yes. And my cats following me around everywhere.

JJ Parker: That's

Amber Ward: What are you doing?

JJ Parker: Well, so if people aren't doing that 30 minutes a day, why do you think people don't do it?

Amber Ward: I think, I think that some people maybe exercise seems like a daunting task because it?

seems like, oh, I have to get on the treadmill or do something big. Right. But it doesn't have to be something like that. It can be something like a nice walk or even

JJ Parker: Yeah. Doing laps in your apartment, like you're doing

Amber Ward: yeah. But like, but even that is like, no, like some people do not like to exercise.

Right. So it's like finding that the balance between what you like to do, because some people really like to go for a walk, but they don't think of it as exercise. Right. It's just a nice, calming thing to go do. And then some people like to go exercise, like SAS comes to mind, right? He,

JJ Parker: like Saraj and I do that like crazy, like lift weights until you fail thing.

Amber Ward: Oh my gosh. What's that?

JJ Parker: Oh yeah. We've been doing it for years. Like, it's a, it's a form of like exercise where like, We lift weights. And the point is that you can't lift the weight anymore after you're like, you're like eighth rep. So it's like to lifting '

Amber Ward: cause it's just I got it.

JJ Parker: because it's so heavy that you can only do it eight times.

And if you try to do it like the ninth time, if someone's like here, I'll give you $10,000 to, to lift that weight. This is nowhere you could do it. Yeah.

Amber Ward: Yeah. So like, so that's like a, well, right.

JJ Parker: the other

Amber Ward: something somebody would think of and go, oh, you know, like the other things. So just finding that one thing you'd like to do that is not sitting at the computer.

JJ Parker: Yup.

Amber Ward: I think for a lot of people That's being with their animals. Like they can go take them out, take your dog for a walk, or you can just throw the ball in the backyard.

That's getting up And

off. Cause isn't there something with like, I know there's something to do with like sitting at the computer is just as bad as like cigarette smoking or something like that. There's like a whole.

JJ Parker: Awesome gift pairs. So all we're doing is smoking cigarettes all day long.

Amber Ward: No. It's like, like the equivalent, because you're not moving your body or something like, okay, now I don't know if that's

JJ Parker: I believe your made up stat. That sounds good.

Amber Ward: I'm going to go Google it now. See

JJ Parker: I think the other reason people don't take their 30 minutes is because of. They feel like it's not part of their job, like, but I'm like explicitly telling you doing your 30 minutes a day as part of your job,

Amber Ward: Also, it gets away from you the day gets away from you. So like, like I said, I mentally do it. but now because I watched or listened to Paul's podcasts I want to block off that time and I never did because there are certain days where I can't do it at that certain time. But then I just started thinking, well, who cares?

So then I can do it earlier that day. And then I've got that 30 minutes. But I think that that's a big part of it is that it's not in your schedule. And some people have so many meetings all day. So if you have meetings booked up for a month, like,

I think of the customer success team, right? Like if you're like they're all or support, right.

Like they're always, they're always, I'm on a call where somebody sales, whatever, but like, so, okay, so you might be booked for the next month, but okay. Fine. Then in a month start putting it on. Right.

JJ Parker: yeah, start time-blocking it like in the future? Yeah.

Amber Ward: Right. And another thing to think about, so I don't know how long everybody takes for lunch.

I'm a, I'm a bad the bad lunch person, I eat it, but yeah. You didn't like two seconds sitting in front of the computer, but like, if you take a half an hour for lunch and then right after that, take a half an hour for exercise or flip flop it, however you want to do it. That's probably bad to exercise after you've got, I don't know.

But but you know what I mean? Like if you, there you go, you have a whole hour carved out

JJ Parker: Yup.

Amber Ward: break away, eat your lunch and go walk or whatever.

JJ Parker: Yup. Yeah. So there's a, there's like

Amber Ward: in the house.

JJ Parker: totally. Yeah. There's like a thousand reasons not to do it. But it's just harder to like, get over that carving out your time, being protective of that time and, and stick into it. So, cool. So what are you going to do today for your 30 minutes?

Amber Ward: Well, I already did it. I, I, I always, I have a spin bike, so. I bike. And then I left free weights and I have, I do, sometimes I do pushups and sometimes I do like, you know, there's elastic band do come by. So I do?

like leg lifts and put those around my legs and. Sometimes I just do jumping jacks at the beginning of the pandemic, I was getting real creative.

I was like lifting chairs over my head cause has all the stuff I was like recording it

JJ Parker: Yes, we lifted the furniture. I was moving the furniture out every

Amber Ward: I was cause then they're like, Ooh, get a can. And I was like, we don't have big enough cans for me to lift weights of a can, but like what we would do. Cause you know, everybody's kids were at home and at that point, Oliver was in kindergarten.

They had no. virtual plan for kindergarten. So there was like one hour on Friday that he had quote unquote school until we made up his schedule. And part of it was gym class. And we would like do laps in his bedroom and do like jumping jacks and like dance party. And then I was lifting chairs over to do whatever I could do, or like step up on the chair, you know?

JJ Parker: Yep. Awesome.

Amber Ward: because I got my own stuff.

JJ Parker: Well, for me today it's snowed here and Minnesota. So my 30 minutes is going to be going in snow,

Amber Ward: shovel,

JJ Parker: the driveway, but it will be plenty

Amber Ward: snow shoes on while you shovel and then it would get you, you don't have to lift your legs higher.

JJ Parker: that sounds difficult. All right, cool. Well,

Amber Ward: a good, that's a good

JJ Parker: yeah, there's always

Amber Ward: kind of. exercise.

JJ Parker: Stuff. Yeah. Cool. Well, I hope F people will find this inspiring and you know, if you need an accountability partner hit up me or Amber and we'll remind you every day to go do your 30 minutes.