Simon Tramalloni ('Toom'), Stagecoach Operations Manager, Preston & Chorley. Aged 45.
At the end of the Stagecoach buddyboost challenge, we caught up with Toom to find out more about his experience of the challenge.
A bit of background on you and tell us about you and exercise!
I joined the army straight after school at 16. In the military, physical activity is part and parcel of the job but also the structure of the days lends itself to doing physical activity. I did tours in Bosnia, Kosovo & 2 tours to Iraq. On the second Iraq tour in 2003, three mates were killed in service and that was the trigger to leave the army. I joined Stagecoach as a bus driver as I had all the drivers licences.
18 years later still here and now Operations Manager in Preston, responsible for a large team of people. Whilst working at Stagecoach I have lived across the country and shift work can make it really hard to stick at exercise, even when you know it’s really important to do so. Because of this, my levels of activity have fluctuated from 6-7 times a week, regularly, and then months without doing anything.
How does being active help you in your everyday life?
Exercise is a real release, especially running; it’s like a ‘refresh button’. I find that if things are building up in my head, or dealing with something that’s troubling me, then a run can really sort it out – it’s like a release of a pressure valve. I have also had mates who left the army and went from being very active to nothing because they’ve lost their structure, some have left with PTSD and ended up in a bad way. I have always thought that if they could get into exercise then it could break the cycle or the downward spiral they find themselves in.
Why did you take part in the buddyboost challenge?
I didn’t really do it for me; I did it to get my team active. I thought it would be really good for them to see that I was doing it and they should get involved too
What did you like about the buddy concept and how did it help you?
The buddy concept is really powerful. There were lots of evenings when I could easily have slacked off but didn’t because I had seen others do theirs and so I couldn’t bin it.
I also loved the community bit of buddyboost, because you saw what other people had done – and that inspired you and made you also want to share what you’d done.
Have you seen benefits beyond physical fitness when taking part in buddyboost?
There are two main benefits – the first is for me & my team, the second is what I saw in other Stagecoach colleagues’ comments in the feed. I found buddyboost to be a real ‘conversation starter’ with people I hadn’t really spoken to before. That was great and helps with work issues as it breaks down barriers. I also liked the fact that people saw each others’ everyday lives and it just makes you get to know each other a little bit better. Small things but they make a difference in a pressure environment at work.
The second thing I really liked was the community aspect. The whole feeling behind buddyboost meant that everyone was full of support, which is so unusual in any form of social media these days. And because of that people really came out of their shell and built up a sense of camaraderie – even people I’d never met!
What tips would you give to someone who is struggling to be more active?
Just do something. Anything. Walk up the stairs more. Walk to get a buttie at lunch. You have to start somewhere.
Also, if you are going to try a challenge like this, get a buddy. I wouldn’t have said that before buddyboost but now I know it really works if you want to stick at it!
Are you going to continue being active now that buddyboost has finished?
Yes, but to be honest buddyboost didn’t really change that for me. My hope is that some of my team will be. They tell me they will be, so let’s see!
What’s your next goal?
I don’t have any goals but I know that I need to keep active to ‘keep me level’. However, if you were running another buddyboost challenge I’d snatch your hand off. I think we should do this regularly as an organisation. I’d get a lot more people involved next time.
Who do you think would benefit most from buddyboost and what advice would you give them?
I think anyone who thinks that activity is not for them should try and get involved in buddyboost. I also think anyone struggling with life’s pressures should get active. But even better they should do a buddyboost because the support and encouragement is so good for your mental state. You’ve made a brilliant app – keep at it!
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Toom’s employer Stagecoach Group has had a tough pandemic. Not only did its business face huge financial uncertainty when people stopped using buses and coaches overnight, many employees quickly became ‘front line key workers’, keeping essential transport services running and dealing with extremely challenging working conditions. Meanwhile, many colleagues worked from home and others were furloughed. These ingredients created a very demanding environment for Stagecoach and its 25,000 employees.
Against this background, Stagecoach wanted an employee wellbeing intervention, but also something that could help staff engage in a positive and fun way. That’s why buddyboost was perfect to help bring together employees from over 20 different locations across the UK.
The challenge was a huge success not only on an individual level for those like Dave but also for the company as a whole with 100% of participants saying it helped them to be more active an average enjoyment score of 9/10 and a strong desire to do the challenge again later in the year.