Category Archives: Building Better Teams

Building Better Teams

We all know that exercise is one of the most effective disease prevention behaviours and has tremendous impact on; reducing feelings of depression, improving stamina and strength, reducing obesity and risks of cardiovascular disease just to name a few. Workplace exercise can range from simple to extensive, with varying implementation costs. The primary purposes of workplace interventions are to encourage employee education, and physical activity to help promote a unified culture.

We practise what we preach! Our PaddleCore team has taken on the challenge of physical activity at the office and we have been training for the Fanfit Challenge. You can see our video here.

Not only are we bettering our health, we’re working together, increasing productivity at work and best of all, giving back to our Canadian Olympians who continue to inspire excellence every day. This is a low cost and high reward activity that YOU should try! It doesn’t matter the level.

And… when you do have time to plan an afternoon event, tie in fun and exercise with core team building skills by calling PaddleCore about a dragonboat experience, created for your specific needs! You will see the results in the office!


Q&A With Chrissy Wessman, Paddlecore Partner

With the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games happening and Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe winning the first Pan Am gold awarded to a woman in sprint canoe, Chrissy Wessman, talks paddling because she realizes the skills in team boats help prepare for success in a corporate environment.

One of the reasons Paddlecore is at the top of its team­building game?
We’ve got top­ tier athletes. Meet Chrissy Wessman, Partner with Paddlecore and 11­ time paddling world champion.

How long have you been involved in competitive paddling?
I’ve been doing dragon boating for 15 years and sprint canoeing for 12 years.

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C4 (Four person sprint canoe) Canadian Record Holders: Chrissy Wessman, Eve Loek, Jessica Rando, Lynne Atwill.

What’s the difference between sprint canoeing and canoeing?
The way most people think of canoeing is the traditional, cottage­ style canoe with two people in it, it’s a more stable boat to enjoy the outdoors. The sprint canoe is a streamlined boat that’s narrow, and meant for going fast on flat water. In a sprint canoe you kneel on one knee and paddle on one side. You steer each stroke but you could never tell from looking at it because it’s so efficient. The one person canoe is wide enough for your knee, basically. There is C1, C2, C4 and C14; one, two, four and fourteen people canoes.


Sprint canoeing made headlines recently when Laurence Vincent-Lapointe won gold at the Pan Ams.
Yes, I was so glad that she won, and it’s great to see Canada is still at the top of the program. I’m most excited that C­1 for women is finally part of the Pan Am Games, because that makes us about 10 steps closer to being in the Olympics. We are en route be in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (When I paddled, I was able to win at the Pan Am Championships but this was the highest level of competition, so the Pan Games news is fantastic!)

Why isn’t it in the Olympics?
You need money and funding to build good, Olympic ­level programs, but not enough countries want to put that forward if the sport is not in the Olympics. So it’s a Catch 22. It’s hard to attract as well as retain good athletes when there isn’t that level of competition.

How do the skills athletes develop at this level translate to dragonboating?


Taylor Potts, one of Canada’s top C1 paddlers.

A lot of our team facilitators at Paddlecore are high ­level athletes who can bring the team­building skills they’ve learned from international training back into the real world and our office. Taylor Potts, who’s currently one of the world’s best sprint canoe paddlers, is one of our newest team members at Paddlecore. She’s sharing the most recent expertise that comes from being a high­ performance athlete in 2015, which includes performance psychology and training techniques, that can be applied to team­building for any group, including those from the corporate world.

Does dragonboating belong at the Olympics?
I would love to see dragonboating as part of the Olympics, I realize that the numbers that come with dragonboat are a challenge. One way around that would be accepting 10 person dragonboats rather than 20 person dragonboats.

What’s Canada’s worldwide standing in dragon boating?
Paddling and rowing, Canada is very, very strong. We’ve always had an extremely strong presence in evolving the stroke to where it is now – we’ve been a leader.

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Germany 2005: Canada’s Premiere Women’s Gold Medalists at the IDBF World Championships.

From 1999 – 2005 we won three IDBF (International Dragon Boat Federation) Cups, which means that our premiere teams are the best of everybody, it doesn’t matter the age or category. I was fortunate enough to paddle on those dream teams but Blake Hara, PaddleCore’s other partner, was the coach then, one of the only coaches in Canada to win the coveted IDBF Cup.



Teambuilding – DRAGONSTYLE!

By Jackie Siemon

044BAYSHORE-Dragon Boat

Corporate teambuilding facilitates better communication, motivates employees, promotes creativity, helps to develop problem-solving skills and increases the trust factor with employees.  Teambuilding in the workplace enables better communication, relationships and increases productivity.

“Nurturing teamwork is first priority for many business executives” says Suzanne Willis Zoglio, Ph.D and author of Teams at Work: 7 Keys to Success and The Participative Leader.  “There are obvious benefits of corporate teambuilding – increased productivity, improved customer service and it creates a more flexible system and employee empowerment.

Mary Collins, author of American Idle: A Journey through our Sedentary Culture says activity impacts our brains.  Physical movement is of equal importance to the brain as stimulating it by reading and writing.  Collins says, “Workspaces have become more confined to sitting at computers in desk chairs day in and day out.  Society’s health is suffering with crippling musculoskeletal problems that occur as a result of inactivity and poor posture.”  While a number of media articles suggest adults to walk more often and take the stairs, these suggestions are a good start, however Collins suggests that it is important to be “spontaneously active.”  Spontaneous physical activity can contribute significantly to differences in total daily energy expenditure in an individual.  By decreasing the amount of non-exercise and incorporating activity within the workplace there is high promise that productivity will increase in the office.

Measuring the outcomes of a corporate teambuilding event can be difficult if you have no way to do so.  Deciding what you wish to measure or determining an area of emphasis prior to the event will aid in defining success, for example; improving internal communication.  It is important to recognize that teambuilding can be fun, add value as well as give your employees tools they can use when returning to work the next day. And team building should create change that lasts.

A study led by Cameron Klein of the University of Central Florida was conducted in order to answer the question of whether or not teambuilding is effective.  He studied and surveyed 26 teams of small (less then five people), medium (five to ten people) and large (over ten people) sizes before and after their teambuilding activity.  The results were encouraging and suggested that teambuilding does improve overall outcomes of a team such as goal setting, interpersonal relations, problem solving and productivity at work.    Although teams of all sizes benefited from teambuilding exercises, larger teams appeared to have the most success.

Dragonboat offers the ultimate teambuilding experience because it builds on the skills necessary for today’s business environment.  It is an excellent way to develop teamwork, communication, build relationships and increase productivity in the workplace.  In an activity where synchronicity is more important than individual strength, developing a cohesive and inclusive team comes naturally with this sport.


Klein, Cameron, et al. “Does Team Building Work?” Small Group Research 40.2 (2009): 181-222.

Collins, Mary. American Idle: A Journey through Our Sedentary Culture. Sterling, VA: Capital, 2009. Print.