After watching the 1984 Summer Olympics, Antonio (Tony) Cruz knew his dream was to become an Olympian. Fast forward to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia—Tony’s hard work and determination had paid off and he was racing through the terrain of Australia with the best athletes every country had to offer. Tony also spent more than 10 years racing throughout Europe in races such as the Tour of Spain, the Tour of Italy, Paris to Roubaix, and is a former U.S. National Champion.
Today his experience as professional road bicyclist serves as a foundation for his work as the wellness program manager for Molina Healthcare.
In that role, he strives to help Molina employees live healthier lives by educating them on stress management, nutrition, well-being and how to improve their quality of life at work. His vision: make wellness a part of the Molina culture through companywide programs in which employees can partake, regardless of their fitness level or location. To get started, Tony offers these suggestions to promote wellness at work:
- Get up frequently and walk around or stretch. Add reminders to your calendar to incorporate it into your routine.
- Try a standing meeting. Instead of sitting at the conference table, stand up! You still can accomplish everything you need at the meeting on top of burning an extra 90 calories.
- Stay hydrated! Ditch the soda and drink plenty of water.
Tony also promotes wellness within his local community. Four years ago, he helped create the annual Tour of Long Beach charity event, which consists of 31 and 62 mile courses as well as a family bike ride on city streets. The event is Miller Children’s Hospital’s top fundraiser, bringing in $200,000 for the hospital and cancer research.
Tony also created his own bicycle program called Bike Cruz. Each year, Tony picks one or two schools where he will put on a five-week bike ride series. The program involves teaching bike safety and education, including helmet use, hand signals and rules of the road. His mission is not only to teach a child how to ride a bike after five weeks, but also to create an activity that a child and his or her family can enjoy together.
Although not all of us are Olympic athletes, Antonio offers practical advice that anyone interested cycling could do:
- Shop around and find a bike that fits your needs. For each style of riding, there is a specific type of bike.
- Start slowly and then gradually move up. You’ll enjoy the sport more as you ease into it instead of pushing yourself right away.
- Get safety gear and repair items because a bad fall or flat tire could ruin the entire experience.