High Performance Talks: Dr. Aki Hintsa

High Performance Talks: Dr. Aki Hintsa

High Performance Talks is an interview series focusing on improving performance through better health and wellbeing. In ten episodes, you will hear fascinating stories from Formula One drivers, top executives, entrepreneurs, university professors and our very own Hintsa experts.

In episode 10 of our series the late Founder of Hintsa Performance, Dr. Aki Hintsa, goes through the Circle of Better Life model and discusses why wellbeing is the key to high performance. During his long medical career, Dr. Hintsa worked with several top athletes, such as runner Haile Gebrselassie and F1 Champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel as well as leaders of Fortune 500 companies. After his passing in 2016, Hintsa Performance and its team of specialist and coaches continue Dr. Hintsa’s mission to help people reach better life and better performance.

What are the first questions you ask from a client?

"Majority of the people that come to the clinic, and I ask them who you are, they say they've never thought about that. Then I also usually ask: Do you have any time for yourself? To go fishing or just walking in nature or in the mountains, or simply just time for yourself? Do you have time to think? And they reply: "No, no, no, I don't have that. Either I work or I try to invest all of the time left in my family." I think that is not healthy. We need some time for ourselves. We can give more to our families, to our children, if we are well balanced with ourselves."

What is the key to reaching better performance?

"Usually, people have a tendency to think that they have to work hard, and even harder, and then the high performance comes from there. But what I have learned from working with the top athletes of the world, is that this is not the case. As human beings, we have certain limits. First, you have to take a look at yourself and find your wellbeing. And it doesn't matter if you are a CEO or a top athlete, or whoever, the same principles are required to reach optimal performance."

Could you tell us more about the principles of the Circle of Better Life model?

"We start always from the inside, from the person's core motivations. And this may sound a little weird, but we want people to first answer to three questions: Who are you, i.e. what's your identity? What is your purpose in life, i.e. what is your real target? And then the third one – which can be very tricky nowadays – Are you in control of your life?

We are calling all of this the Core. People have to start from the inside, and after that, we go to the more practical areas. Physical activity is one area. Optimising nutrition is another – you have to find a healthy way to feed yourself. Sleep and recovery is the third area.

We also have to take care of the mechanical body. We call this area biomechanics. It's a mixture of sports science and proactive occupational health care. Due to inactive environment or inactive lifestyles, people tend to have more and more problems with their bodies. We have more and more back problems, we have problems with our joints, even early arthritis. Obesity is related to these.

The fifth area is mental energy. People have to have energy in their mental systems. This is what we believe in Hintsa. It is one of the main areas where we can develop people. Good mental energy also gives meaning to their Core and balances their social environment, family and children. The sixth element then is general health. This means that health screenings and proactivity in health issues are some of the key parameters in our system.

So there are altogether six elements, plus the Core, that we assess. And once you become one of our clients, we will go through all of these elements."

How do your clients usually start to implement changes during their Hintsa journey?

"Our clients start by changing life habits that are not doing them any good. They are learning how to lose bad habits and how to take in good habits. It's a never-ending development story when you are doing the program. But the key is, that you don't have to do it, you are free to do it. And you don't need to be perfect and you can make compromises, but your direction should be towards learning good habits all the time. Better habits then make your life more balanced. Very often people want to continue with us because they like our core philosophy: "everyone can improve, one day at a time". This is why we avoid giving you just some physical fitness programs or telling you how to get a six pack for yourself. No, no. It's a holistic wellbeing program."

What would be your one single piece of advice for improving wellbeing?

"Try to think who you really are. Try to find your own identity. Not what you are now, but what you want to be. What kind of person you want to be and then what you want to have. And be in control of your life. Steer your own vehicle. Don't be a passenger."

High Performance Talks: Adrian Sutil

High Performance Talks: Adrian Sutil

High Performance Talks is our weekly interview series focusing on improving performance through better health and wellbeing. In ten weeks, you will hear fascinating stories from Formula One drivers, top executives, entrepreneurs, university professors and our very own Hintsa experts.

In episode 9 of our series former Formula 1 driver and Formula Ford champion Adrian Sutil talks about how working with the Hintsa team changed him not just as a racing driver but as a person. Sutil began his racing career with karting at age 14. During his Formula 1 career, he was part of Spyker, Force India and Sauber teams, as well as a test driver for Midland and Williams.

How do you feel about Hintsa Performance and their method?

“It  has helped me a lot. That is why I’m a believer and why I'm behind the philosophy created by Dr. Aki Hintsa. I met Aki 5-6 years ago. After meeting him for the first time, I realised that the Hintsa model has several areas, but the most important part is to have balance in life and to be in control of your own life.”

Which part of the model has been the most important one for you?

“It’s hard to say which one is the important one, because everything is important and it's all about the philosophy as a whole. But I feel that balance is what makes us strong. If I'm really good in one area but very weak in the other, it will create certain amount of stress, and I will not reach the ultimate performance.

It is individual though. So every person needs a little bit different version of their so called Circle of Success. Some may need a little bit more recovery, others maybe a little bit more sports, but you need to find out your own body’s balance. The body will tell you.”

What was the learning that had the biggest effect on your daily life?

“There was a time when I had to ask myself what I wanted to do and what was my target. These are some difficult questions that you’re faced with when you come to the Hintsa office for the first time. When you think about it, that’s what it’s all about really – to be in control of your life. Faced with these questions, I realised that I’m not controlling my life, and that is why I was unhappy.”

And how did Hintsa’s model influence your racing?

“I started working with Dr. Hintsa a little bit later in life, so the influence on my racing was not so big. But more importantly, he influenced my whole life. I got back into Formula One in 2013. After one year break, I made it back. And I came back very successful, as a different person. So for sure Aki had a lot of influence there. I did two seasons and then I was in a different team again as a 3rd driver. Maybe I didn’t reach the pinnacle of World Champion in Formula One, but most importantly as a person I made progress, and that is what counts for me now.”

What would be your key advice for good wellbeing?

“Most important is to wake up happy in the mornings, and to be able to say: I want to do this today. Or I have to do this today, but it’s making me happy. Work shouldn't be a negative thing, work should be a good thing. If it’s not a good thing, you need to make some changes, since work is what takes most of your time. It is a question you have to answer for yourself, but I think it's an easy one. Ask yourself are you happy or are you not. If you're not, you may need some changes. But when you are in control of your life, those changes can turn positive very quickly.”



Providing cutting edge digital solutions with Zurich Life and Garmin

Providing cutting edge digital solutions with Zurich Life and Garmin

Hintsa Performance starts working with Zurich Life, one of Ireland’s leading insurance companies and Garmin, the leading wearable manufacturer, to enhance the health and wellbeing of Zurich’s customers. Zurich Life will become the first company in Ireland to incorporate cutting edge digital solutions in its life insurance offerings. The pilot will be available to a limited number of customers through selected financial brokers.

Over the past 20 years, Hintsa Performance has grown into a leading provider of services to improve the life and performance of individuals, teams and entire organisations. Hintsa offers science-based coaching services for clientele ranging from Formula 1 World Champions and top CEO’s to executive teams and employees in hundreds of companies around the world. Hintsa believes the goal of reaching better life and better performance belongs to all. The company has focused on scaling its services by developing its own digital platform comprising web services, mobile applications, and reporting tools.

Within the pilot, selected Zurich Life customers taking out a life insurance policy will receive a customised mobile application developed by Hintsa Performance, and a free Garmin Vivosmart HR device. Hintsa’s mobile application complements the Garmin wearable device and gives access to personalised content on health and wellbeing as well as hundreds of training programs and videos. The application also provides the ability to track personal wellbeing goals (e.g. steps, heart rate, sleep, nutrition) and receive guidance from Hintsa experts. Based on the data, Zurich Life will be able to reward customers with cashback and support their fitness and wellbeing achievements.

Hintsa’s digital platform has already been deployed by organisations of all sizes including insurance companies, banks, health providers and Formula One teams. Hintsa’s platform provides organisations with a frictionless way to engage their employees year-round with tasks, surveys, company-wide challenges, and healthy activities. HR and line management receive regular insights based on anonymised data, aggregated from multiple sources. Employers and wellbeing experts are able to impact even larger populations based on the insights provided to them.

Jussi Räisänen, Co-Founder and CEO at Hintsa Performance notes: “At Hintsa, we’re passionate about unlocking human potential and enhancing the everyday life and performance of people. Together with Zurich Life and Garmin we can motivate participants to incorporate a healthy mentality into their daily routines and keep their fitness and wellbeing goals top of mind. Having worked closely with major insurance companies and large corporate customers, we have identified that more than 70% of people who use our digital platform change their lifestyle choices for the better. We’re excited to be part of this pioneering initiative, and look forward to seeing what it can deliver for Zurich’s customers.”

Evan Hanley, Product Solutions Actuary at Zurich Life comments: We’re delighted to work together with Garmin and Hintsa Performance, to bring this cutting edge technology to the life insurance market. The aim is to support customers to become healthier and more active and claim cashback rewards if they continue to engage with the pilot. It will also create an opportunity to assess the role of wearable and digital technology for insurance in Ireland into the future, and to see if it leads to greater customer engagement.”

Read Zurich Life's press release: https://www.zurichlife.ie/about-us/media-centre/2017/0518/

About Zurich in Ireland

Zurich is one of Ireland’s leading insurance companies providing a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services. The company employs over 1,000 people across its locations in Dublin and Wexford. 

About Zurich Insurance Group

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 54,000 employees, it provides a wide range of property and casualty, and life insurance products and services in more than 210 countries and territories. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, as well as multinational corporations. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872.

About Hintsa Performance

Hintsa Performance is a leading provider of human high performance services. Hintsa offers science-based coaching services and scalable digital tools to improve the life and performance of individuals, teams and entire organisations. Over the past 20 years, Hintsa has grown into a multinational company that serves a clientele ranging from Formula 1 World Champions and top CEO’s to executive teams and employees in hundreds of companies around the world. Hintsa employs nearly 100 professionals including performance coaches, doctors, and software developers. The company is headquartered in Helsinki and it has offices in Geneva, London, Stockholm and Zug.

High Performance Talks: Angela Cullen

High Performance Talks: Angela Cullen

High Performance Talks is our weekly interview series focusing on improving performance through better health and wellbeing. In ten weeks, you will hear fascinating stories from Formula One drivers, top executives, entrepreneurs, university professors and our very own Hintsa experts.

In episode 8, Performance Coach Angela Cullen explains what the Biomechanics component in the Hintsa model is and why it is important to listen to your body. Angela is an experienced physiotherapist and an expert in understanding how the body works. During her career, she has worked with Olympic athletes from Great Britain and New Zealand as well as several Formula 1 drivers.

Can you explain what exactly is biomechanics?

“Biomechanics is the way that the body moves, particularly in terms of the muscles. It’s about ensuring that your body is able to act freely without injury. We study the body and its movements, and we're always looking for ways of making sure that the body is moving efficiently and effectively.”

What do you feel is the most important thing to consider when it comes to biomechanics?

“I think it's always really important to concentrate on three elements when you're looking at biomechanics. I look at alignment which has to do with the joints in the spine. It’s about making sure that the spine is there to support the muscles as well as to provide movement. However, because the nerves come out of the spine as well, it's really important to know that the control of the muscles is affected by the way the spine works. So I always start with alignment and make sure that there's a lot of movement through the spine. And then I work on the muscles in terms of length and mobility, to make sure that we have enough length and strength through the muscles. And then I work on control which has to do with the strength in the way that the muscles switch on and off. That's where we get our power as well as our stability.”

What do you consider as the biggest change in our way of living that is affecting our biomechanics

“Well, sitting plays a really important part now in society. On average people are sitting for up to 10 hours a day. Obviously, this has some great effects on the body in terms of spine stiffness, back and neck stiffness, as well as hip and muscle tightness. It also affects the way that the muscles work in terms of the control, i.e. the way that they switch on and off. And also in terms of strength. So it's really important that we try and reduce the amount of sitting we do each day so that we can actually allow our bodies to function efficiently in the upright position which we're designed to be in.”

Could you share some advice for boosting overall wellbeing?

“I think first it's really important for people to become aware of their own bodies, e.g. the parts that feel stiff and tight, and movements that are difficult for them to do. Because that is their body telling them that there's something not right. Then they need to become proactive and go see experts such as physios or osteopaths before the stiffness or tightness becomes a problem. They need to address any tightness, stiffnesses or difficulties with movement. And then it’s all about preparing the body every day for the things that it needs to perform every day. It can be walking or running, or exercises, or stretching or strengthening programs but a daily basis to make sure your body is ready for the things that it needs to do each day.”

Any final advice for daily exercise?

“I think the most important exercise, is the exercise that the person doing it wants to do. It's so individual and there's no point in recommending a specific exercise if it's not going to be done. So it really comes down to the individual and what they want to do. It really doesn't matter what kind of exercise you are doing, it's just actually getting out there and doing something!”