GETTING TO KNOW

Local entrepreneur Megan Hill, takes lessons learned through sports into workplace to promote wellness

DEVON MORGAN/PhotoSynthesis Atlanta
Megan Hill jogs across Roswell Mill’s historic covered bridge.
Megan Hill competed on the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team.
Megan Hill and Brittany Reinbolt compete in the 2012 North America’s Cup race in Lake Placid, New York.
Megan Hill, as an Auburn University gymnast, competes against University of Alabama in March of 2007.
Photo
By CANDY WAYLOCK
Posted

After years of competing at the elite levels of athletics and fitness, Megan Hill is now focusing her skills in the workplace by helping employees achieve and maintain optimal health.

“My body had never hurt so badly in my life than when I was cramped up sitting behind a computer screen,” said Hill, recalling her first job in the corporate world. “That’s when I created the first employee wellness program for the company I was working for.”

A former gymnast and track and field star at Auburn University, Hill graduated in 2010 having earned both bachelor’s and master degrees in health promotion. She has now fused her two worlds of fitness and business into a growing company, A Stronger Workplace, to ensure workplaces are attuned to the health and wellness concerns of their employees both in and out of the office.

“I saw a huge demand for [employee wellness programs],” said Hill, who also competed on the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team. “I have always wanted to help others live a healthier lifestyle, so why not tackle the issue at the place where people spend most of their time – at their workplace.”

Hill’s road from a premier high school and collegiate athlete, to fifth best bobsled pilot in the country (just missing an Olympic appearance), to starting all over again as a small business owner, has as many twists and turns as a bobsled run. She recently sat down with Northside Woman magazine so we could get to know her.

Northside Woman: Let’s start at the beginning. How did your lifelong interest in sports begin?
Hill: I was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia, graduated from Sequoyah High School and was a competitive gymnast my entire youth. At Auburn University, I competed on the gymnastics team my first two years, then moved to the track and field team my final two years, where I competed in pole vault and hammer throw.

So when did being a part of the U.S. Women’s Bobsled Team come into play? I’m assuming Auburn does not field a team!
When I finished up my collegiate athletic career, I was not ready to give up competitive sports. I felt I had this God-given athletic ability and I should use it as long as I could. I heard the women’s bobsled team was holding combines all over the country, so I went to one in Florida for the try-out. I did well enough to be invited to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, New York, for a “rookie camp.” I honestly did not know anything about bobsled – except for what I learned in the movie “Cool Runnings” – and I really had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Why bobsled of all the sports out there? How did that sport align with your background in track and gymnastics?
Actually, it was a smooth transition. Gymnastics gave me the raw strength, laser sharp focus and the mental capacity it takes to drive a bobsled. Track and field taught me speed through sprint mechanics and how to use my power, which helped me push a bobsled. I’ve always spent countless hours in training, whether it was in the gym, on the track, in the weight room so I could be stronger. With bobsled, it was a combination of everything. Every sport I ever participated in was a full-time job – each took incredible hard work, dedication and relentless determination.

Once you moved on to the rookie camp, what happened from that point?
I started training immediately. A typical day would be to go to the bobsled track first thing in the morning, take two or three runs down the track, go to the garage after that for an hour or two and work on the sled, weight training and recovery. Our home track was in Lake Placid, but I also spent a lot of time at the track in Park City, Utah, as well as tracks in Canada at Calgary and Whistler. I competed on all of the North American tracks as well as several of the European tracks – Igls, Austria; St. Moritz, Switzerland; Cesana, Italy; Winterberg, Germany; and Konigsee, Germany. In the end, I ended up being the fifth-ranked pilot in the U.S., however only the top three pilots make it to the Olympics.

You returned to Georgia and started working in the family business, but the idea of your own business was always there?
Growing up, I knew I wanted [a career] in the health field that helped people. I studied health promotion all through college, and “worksite wellness” was an idea that had been in the back of my mind for several years. During my bobsled years I stayed up to date on my certifications, taught fitness classes and personal trained during the off seasons. [Once bobsled was over] I started working at my father’s company as an office assistant, and started the employee wellness program for the company within the first month of working there. I worked there for about a year before I started A Stronger Workplace.

What is the core mission of A Stronger Workplace?
Our mission is to educate, encourage and motivate employees to live a healthier lifestyle. This not only benefits the employee, but the employer may end up reducing health care costs and see his workplace become more efficient as a whole. It’s taken some time to build my team, but now I have on board a registered nurse, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, massage therapist and a psychologist to help me tackle health from all angles.

How did your family support you going out on your own?
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so the support and inspiration has been there since day one. My mom owns a fitness company called Aerobic Fitness Inc. My dad owns an HVAC company, Hill Company. My brother, Travis, owns a recording studio, The Looking Glass. My sister-in-law Rachael has a cake business, and my younger brother Justin is working on a travel booking start-up called Faretrotter. I have several aunts and uncles who own their own businesses as well. I guess it’s safe to say entrepreneurship is in my blood.

What were the challenges you faced in launching A Stronger Workplace? Was it more difficult than the challenges you faced as an athlete?
Starting a business has taken an enormous amount of work, and it’s really no different than learning a new sport. Work ethic, determination and the ability to learn and to continue to learn are three lessons that have carried over into the business world. I was starting from scratch and if I was going to succeed I had to humble myself, swallow my pride and not be afraid to fail. The biggest challenge I have faced so far is rejection. I overcome rejection by simply keep on going. Fall down seven times stand up on the eighth, right? There have been several setbacks and hurdles to leap, and I just stay focused on making it through.

At the end of the day, what brings you the most satisfaction?
At the end of the day, I feel most satisfied when I know I have helped someone and made a positive impact in their life. A perfect day would be to interact with a company’s employees through any one of ASW’s services and motivate individuals to take charge of their personal health. I aspire to inspire. The days I get to be in an office face-to-face with employees are always the best.

To learn more about A Stronger Workplace, visit www.astrongerworkplace.com.

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