We have long believed that the Rawlplug team is filled with unique and talented individuals, and this can be seen through the diverse and exciting sporting interests which our employees have. Their positive energy is infectious and we are always happy to share their out-of-work achievements within the organization.

We try to foster our employees’ individual passions. We know that positive emotions and experiences in our private lives carry over into our work and professional relationships. By promoting sporting activity we are also motivating people to care about their health. Organizing internal activities, including for example the celebration of World Health Day, enables us to increase employees’ knowledge and awareness, and encourages them to take care of their own health and wellbeing.

We encourage you to read some interviews with Rawlplug employees, which describe their extraordinary passion for sports:

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, street workout, calisthenics

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Jacek Szczerbiński, Rawlplug Export Specialist

How long have you played sports? Where did this passion in you come from?

My love of competitive sport began with rugby when I was 16 years old. It’s something which has been instilled in me by my father. He is almost 70 years old now but still runs up to 20km a day or cycles even further. At the pool he is basically unbeatable. He trains every day, and never makes excuses not to train when it’s raining or snowing, or when he’s feeling sore. I am very much the same. In the past I have taken part in athletics, played American football, rugby, and volleyball. I have also practised judo and taekwondo. At the moment I am fascinated by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, street workout/calisthenics, and climbing. Street workout or calisthenics is an outdoor workout using the weight of your own body. It contains elements of parkour and acrobatics. It requires control of one’s body and a strength and energy which is tough to build up or unleash within the confines of the gym.

How often do you play sports? What does it mean to you?
It's actually an integral part of my life. I train every day, sometimes twice a day. It has a positive impact on what I eat, how I work, and how I spend my free time and holidays. It helps me fight stress, and thanks to sport I have met a lot of wonderful people.

Do you take part in competitions? How do you prepare for them?
I'm involved with submission fighting competitions (wrestling, judo, BJJ). One of the main issues for the players is fitting in to the weight category so diet is paramount during preparation for competitions. My diet needs to provide sufficient nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, and it is vital that I select an appropriate calorie level to maintain the correct weight. Currently, I do not eat meat, so my diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and sometimes dairy products and eggs. I prepare my own meals, usually in the evenings. I don’t feel any negative effects from the lack of meat in my diet. On the contrary, it feels light and I have a lot of energy. The closer the competition gets, the more I focus on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, honing my best techniques and addressing any weaknesses in my arsenal. On weekends, I concentrate on aerobic training and regeneration. I could go into great detail about the whole preparatory period and what works for me. Everyone's body works differently though, so there is no single, ideal route to arrive at the competition in top form. Currently, I am fighting less and less, deriving more pleasure from training junior competitors. Their successes are giving me greater satisfaction than my own have.

Do you find competing motivates you?
Competition is at the heart of martial arts. There is always someone stronger and more experienced, so you have to learn to lose and learn from your failures. If you do not, you will never achieve success. Sport tempers us and teaches perseverance. Many times I have suffered severe defeats or had to go out with a serious injury. But, as the Chinese proverb says, you can fall down seven times, but you need to remember get up eight times. Life’s problems become far easier to overcome after such experiences. In climbing or street workout the motivation comes from being part of a group, supporting each other and cheering each other on. Nothing raises the adrenaline as much as the loud cheers of colleagues when you pull off a difficult stunt, or when you reach the last section of a climb.

What do you think about when you're exercising?
I cut off completely from work and any other problems and focus on the sport. I take part in sports that require concentration. Bad thoughts and emotions should be left off the mat.

Which sport is your favorite and why?
I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because of the finesse required, the extremely rich variety of techniques available, the efficiency of the sport and the incredible, open community. I recommend this sport to everyone, regardless of age and experience. I also love the street workout. Many people boast about their achievements bench pressing weights, but can’t even perform ten pull-ups. Street workout is a healthier and much more effective form of training than the gym. Additionally, you don’t need a gym membership for street workout. Fortunately, Wroclaw is the cradle of Polish street workout and new spots for training spring up like mushrooms after the rain. The best and most popular place is Anders Hill near the Water Park, where I train 3 times a week.

What is your best memory related to sports?
There are many, but I think the most significant was my first submission wrestling tournament, probably in 2009. Coincidentally, I had much less time to warm-up than my coach had anticipated so I came out completely unprepared to fight in my category (<88kg) and I lost. I had packed my bags to leave when the coach entered me in the OPEN category (fought by all players, regardless of weight class). It turned out that I was to fight the same player I had lost to earlier. I sat in the corner of the sports hall, put on my earphones and analyzed my previous fight a thousand times, remembering the style of my opponent and the mistakes that I had made. A few hours later I won the bout with the help of a choke hold, clearly dominating the whole fight. In the OPEN category I won silver. I often think back to that day, especially when faced with the prospect of failure in my private or professional life.

How does sport affect your life?
There is probably no better way of coping with stress. It has a beneficial effect on health, regulates blood pressure and heart function. Suitable training is able to heal most injuries and ailments. I struggled with lumbar back pain– a legacy of hard rugby training. Regular and correct training has made that pain a thing of the past.

What is your advice for people who want to start?
Do not look for excuses! I always carry my equipment for climbing and training in the trunk of my car and I go for a workout immediately after work. Later in the evening it can be hard to motivate yourself, but fresh from work you will still have a little energy. Do not be discouraged; sport is for the patient and consistent. Everyone expects quick results from little effort, but it does not work like that. Many people looking at the stunts we perform do not realize that they are the result of hundreds of litres of sweat in training. I definitely do not recommend intense workouts at the gym. In gym environments you will come across a lot of absurd theories about nutrition and training, which have little to do with health or performance. I went through a few years of weight training and paid for it with injuries. I believe it is definitely better to train using the weight of your own body – this can be intense or gentle, slow or energetic.

How would you encourage other people to take part in physical activity? What benefits can it have for them?
Actually, everything mentioned - a cure for stress, cardiovascular ailments, the simple act of moving. Any form of physical activity has a positive effect on the body. Even a half hour walk a day. Sometimes it is hard to reconcile sport with the responsibilities of work and family, but like I said, instead of making excuses, try to look for solutions.

Marathon running, nordic walking

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Osman Kosmalski, Rawlplug Legal Adviser

How long have you been running? Where did this passion in you come from?
I've been running for over 10 years. Prior to that I was completely uninterested in running long distances. It seemed to me a boring discipline, without any emotion. I was far more interested in team games. With time, however, I began to see the appeal of running. When I entered adulthood, it was increasingly difficult to gather enough people together to play football or basketball. I did not want that to stop me from taking part in sport, so I started to run. In running I found happiness and a way to stay in shape. I had many job responsibilities, so I wanted to get away from my desk and the problems of everyday life. I chose running because it gives me independence - I can start training at any time and in any place. There are no limitations - I do not need to spend money or get anyone’s permission to run, I do not have to drive anywhere to do it. I just leave the house and run. Apart from the purchase of shoes, which are the most important piece of equipment, running does not require any special funding.

How often do you run? What does it mean to you?
Currently, I run no more than 3 times a week. I used to train more frequently, but in time I learned to read and listen to my own body. Running is a huge burden on the spine and joints, and therefore the body needs to rest and recuperate; it is necessary to give yourself at least 24 hours to recover. So I reduced the amount of cross-country training I was doing. In its place I introduced walking with sticks (Nordic walking). My body is grateful to me when I do this kind of activity, as the burden on the joints and spine is much less than with running. During Nordic walking we rely more on the effort of the muscles in the upper body which are less active when running. The whole shoulder area, biceps and triceps are working so much harder and in constant tension. This sport requires a little more training to become proficient, but the benefits of Nordic walking are well worth the sacrifice. Walking with poles forces you to keep a straight silhouette and align your body; it helps with breathing and supports the circulatory system. Younger people think it is a sport only for the elderly and are ashamed and embarrassed to walk with sticks, but they could not be more wrong. I believe that everyone should try. Running is very important to me; it releases endorphins, so it feels great. It gives me a much more optimistic outlook on life. It does require me to follow a particular diet though, so I'm able to maintain the proper weight and keep fit.

How do you prepare for the each race?
I train alone. I never prepare for racing in an organized group, although I know that many people do.  We need to train regularly to prepare the body for the increased effort needed when running something like a marathon.

Do you like competition? Does it motivate you?
Yes, competition motivates me. In the past it was even more so because it was the main driver for taking part. These days, as a mature runner, the rivalry aspect has fallen by the wayside. It is now a personal battle against my own weaknesses and lack of time. Rivalry is a positive thing in sport, because it allows you to test yourself against other people and verify your skills. However, improving my results is no longer the primary motive for me in the sport.

What do you think about when you run?
I think about many things - family, work. During a race I often find solutions to various problems. Being alone with my thoughts gives me time for reflection and reverie. These are the times when I have my best ideas.

What is your best memory related to sports?
There are many, but the one memory which particularly sticks with me is of my first marathon in Berlin. It takes place every year in September and about 10 000 people take part. The whole event is splendidly prepared. People dress up, and there is a wonderful atmosphere. Multi-generational families compete - grandparents, their children and grandchildren. It made a huge impression on me and I really liked how sport can be a shared family passion. I took my family along; they are my biggest fans. Running through Berlin is a great experience, because you can see the city from major streets usually filled with traffic which are only open to the marathon runners. Along the route there are bands playing all kinds of music to entertain and cheer on the participants. Lots of people are dancing and cheering. The incredible energy really is contagious and creates a great mood.

How does sport affect your life? Do you feel healthier and stronger?
With sport you can get away from everyday life, work through problems, and find solutions to them. By jogging I am taking care of my mental and physical condition; I am stronger and happier.

What is your advice for novice runners?
Good shoes - this is the most important element. Do not cut corners here. The rest of the outfit may be arbitrary, but the shoes should be high-end. They must be adapted to the runner’s foot shape and running style and be half a size bigger than our everyday shoes - it should be remembered that while running feet may swell slightly. The second important issue is choosing the best places to run. You should run on level ground and choose a well-lit route. Thirdly, you must remember to hydrate and always have water with you to prevent your body overheating. You should also be careful when consuming sports drinks because they contain a lot of artificial ingredients. Few people know that, if anything, they should be drinking after exercise, and not before. Also remember it’s best to play sports in favourable rather than extreme weather conditions. Run regularly, but do not train too hard. You should have at least a day’s break between workouts - otherwise you run the risk of injuries and fatigue. Achieving good results depends on whether you learn to read your body and train carefully. Don’t overdo it. With moderation and regular exercise you will definitely achieve the intended purpose.

How would you encourage other people to run?
Running teaches us to properly organize our free time. It makes us examine our daily schedule, so we can plan in such a way that there is also time set aside for training. Running gives people a positive attitude towards themselves and the environment. I invite you all to start and hope to see you out there!

Mountain biking

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Paweł Heś, Rawlplug Sales and Marketing Controlling Specialist

 How long have you been riding a bike? Where did this passion in you come from?

Like most of us I learned to ride a bike when I was a child. Later, the bike gave way to other sporting interests, but more recently I wanted to commune with nature and riding a bike gives you plenty of opportunities to do that. The sheer diversity of nature and weather you get to see during a single trip sets cycling apart from any other sport. One moment you can feel how difficult it is riding into the wind and the next moment it’s blasting you in the back and pushing you on.

How often do you practice? What does cycling mean to you?

I ride a bike whenever I can, if I have the energy and the weather allows. The fun - even of riding alone - is huge, and riding in a group of a dozen people or more especially heightens your levels of endorphins.

Do you participate in any competitions? How do you prepare for them?

With huge help from the company, a number of Rawlplug employees established Modeco MTB Team, which competes in a series of mountain bike marathons. Preparing for a competition is very easy - just a lot of cycling and effort. The mountains in the area are very useful when we are training for the long rides and climbs to be expected during the mountain races. It is also wise to start preparing for the competition months before it starts. The old rule of thumb says that the kilometres you ride in December will pay off at the beginning of the season, which is in April and May.

Do you like competition? Does it motivate you?

Competition is a important part of any sport. It is always useful to be able to compare yourself to others, and check your level of skill. Participation in a competition increases adrenaline levels, and a shared start with hundreds of other people is also an interesting experience that everyone should have.

What do you think about when you're riding?

If I am biking alone, I try to focus on my technique. The clarity of mind which can be achieved while riding a bicycle can also promote deeper thoughts, which can often be difficult to concentrate on in the course of a normal day. Very often I can take hard decisions while riding a bicycle when I can switch off from everyday life and look at everything as if from the side.

What is your best memory associated with the sport?

It's hard to choose one memory. During each ride or training session I can observe a lot. Actually, each kilometre is a great memory. But one situation had quite an impression on me - during the descent from the summit of the Great Owl my bike had a puncture. It took 10-15 minutes to deal with the problem, during which time about 10 cyclists at least 3 times that many people walking on foot passed me. Each of the cyclists stopped and offered his help, while no one walking by on foot showed any interest in my problem. Almost half of the hikers even expressed their amusement when they observed the situation. It showed me how united and supportive the cycling community is, and each new rider asking if I needed help raised my faith in people. It was very encouraging, not only from the "bicycle" point of view.

How does sport affect your life? Do you feel healthier and stronger?

It is often said that "sport is healthiness", but athletes often change this to "sport is loss of healthiness". You have to reckon with the possibility of accident or injury due to improper training. Research shows that 80% of accidents occur in the home. This raises a question that perhaps everyone should answer: do I want to spend a great time on the bike and risk injuries, or sit at home and avoid them? I have long since answered this question and continue to do so!

What is your advice for novice cyclists?

Please note that bikes are like shoes or trousers: they have sizes, which should be matched to the user. On a bike you have to feel good, and feel comfortable. In choosing the size of the bike you should seek out to the opinions of people with more experience (e.g. the staff in the shop), who can observe your position on the bike and advise you. For the more ambitious I would recommend a visit to a specialized institution providing bike fitting services. These allow you to perfectly adjust your position on the bike with the help of a physiotherapist, taking into account individual preferences and the limitations of the body. Once you choose the right bike for yourself, move on to the equipment. My research would start with the helmet, which will be a constant companion on every cycling trip. There are countless instances of collisions where a helmet has saved someone's life. Nobody is able to predict when they will need a helmet, so you must always be protected. No exceptions.

Lights are necessary, but choice of light can depend on how the bike is to be used. If the bike will be used only during the day, there should be enough light, but at night you really need to use good quality lights. From my own experience I know that only the Cree XM-L LEDs are able to effectively illuminate the road in front of the bike after dark.

Security measures can only hinder a thief; unfortunately there is no security which is 100% effective. I go by the principle that "opportunity makes the thief" and never leave the bike out of my sight, not even for ten seconds.

Clothing for cycling needs to breathe. "Foil" jackets which are not airtight are the worst possible solution, as you will be sweating. When it is cold, dress in two or three layers: Thermoactive underwear, an additional sweatshirt with long sleeves, and the outer layer which will protect against the wind. It is worth adding that the breathable membranes (even 10k or 15k) will not work as effectively as you continue to put in more effort; the amount of heat produced by the body is huge and we begin to sweat regardless. It is also extremely important to protect the head against the wind, or add a cap to your helmet which will not let in the wind. The legs are very often overlooked, which is a serious mistake, because the joints’ resistance to cold is much less than that of the muscles. In unfavourable conditions I use winter pants and extra leggings which improve thermal comfort. Of course, the warmer it is outside, the easier it is to dress. In summer you can enjoy the ride in a shirt and shorts. Start with a two-minute warm-up, after which you can up the pace, but remember that this is not about riding at maximum speed. It is impossible to improve before gaining experience. To see results, you have to have many kilometres under your belt.

Don’t forget about nutrition and hydration. For the first 30-40 minutes of training you can cycle without drinking, but then you need to regularly replenish fluid levels. As snacks you can use bananas, but avoid heavy foods, like sausage.

 How would you encourage other people to ride a bike?

Just try to find out if it’s for you. For beginners I recommend a trip in the summer in the woods, on flat terrain, where it is simply beautiful. In Lower Silesia, in the vicinity of Milicz, there is a cycling track on the route of the former narrow-gauge railway which is worth visiting. There is everything there to make the trip fun and memorable - forests, beautiful views of farmland and ponds, birds and other wildlife. You may also come across farm animals next to the road (once some horses took to the track and I had to pass between them), and there are a lot of places where you can stop and make camp. It is worth noting that the area around Milicz is not mountainous, so the path is accessible even for novice cyclists.

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