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uni'alumni 2016

Basketball is a sport you have to play in a tough and uncompromising way,” says Birte Janson. The players run over the court, jump high, appear as though suspended in the air, and sink the ball into the net. The game inspires young people and makes the audience cheer. It is an elegant yet physical sport that requires players to give their utmost. “Women play basketball with the same resolve, the same devotion and determi- nation, as men do.” Janson helps players with these credentials to play profes- sional basketball with the “Kingfishers,” the university’s women’s basketball team USC Freiburg – a dream that she herself lived with great pleasure and an enor- mous willingness to perform. Her passion for fitness remains the guiding principle of her life to this day: The former national women’s basketball player has been de- veloping new concepts for enabling uni- versity employees to enjoy a healthy working life since 2013 as coordinator of the University of Freiburg’s Health Man- agement Work Group (BGM). Between the Desk and the Gym Birte Janson grew up with basketball. She was promoted to Germany’s top women’s basketball league with the Kingfishers in 2000, when she was only 20 years old. She went to the gym for training twice a day. It was then that family and friends started encouraging her to study something involving sports. “But I didn’t want to spend all my time at the gym. I also wanted to do something else,” the 35-year-old explains. She had always been an analytical type and was interested in processes and the behavior of the people involved in them. She therefore decided to study economics. After earning her degree, Janson looked for a opportunity to combine her passion for competitive sport with a profession – not an easy task. This led her to take on a job with the university’s Recreational Sports Program, where she worked with campus physician Dr. Jürgen Pietsch to develop the exercise program “Pausen- Express.” Pietsch decided to adopt the program for the BGM – and hired Janson to implement it. Today, PausenExpress is an essential part of the BGM. Up to six employees sharing an office meet once a week during working hours to exercise for 20 minutes, for instance with resistance bands and Pilates balls. University of Freiburg sports science students are trained to coach them. The short fitness program has a positive effect on the participant’s mus- cles, joints, and general well-being. “But it’s also just the fact of leaving their work behind for a bit,” says Janson. “It does the employees good to experience their colleagues in another context, to have fun, chat, stretch, and move their bodies – it’s simply invaluable.” As coordinator of the BGM, the former competitive athlete visits the university’s departments to determine how healthy the working atmosphere is, how physical- ly fit their employees are, and where their weak points are. To close gaps, Janson develops concepts for making lasting improvements to workplace health. For example, she would like to teach the employees how to prepare a fresh and healthy meal in the office kitchen in a short amount of time. Many people neglect health issues at work due to the demand for efficiency and speed. But Janson sees this as a basic mistake: “In order to remain effective, you need to ensure that your workplace is healthy and conducive to your well-being.” Tanja Kapp » „ The Sports Manager Former professional basketball player Birte Janson keeps the university’s office workers in shape PORTRAIT Birte Janson developed the exercise program “PausenExpress” to help university employees stay in shape at work. Photos: Patrick Seeger Janson played professional basketball for the USC Freiburg “Kingfishers” for ten years. 29