The University of Jyväskylä’s 2019 Alumni of the Year is Tiina Hoffman. She is an exercise physiologist, wellbeing expert and trainer. She started her academic career in the United States.

After upper secondary school, Hoffman got a cross-country skiing scholarship to the University of Alaska Anchorage. “I decided to go and have a year of adventure,” Tiina says.

One year became eleven, since she met her future husband David in Alaska and competed for four years as part of the university’s ski team. Tiina completed her bachelor’s degree in sport sciences and then worked as a PE teacher and a cross-country skiing coach of the university.

 “Studying in the USA was very similar to upper secondary school,” she says. “Everything was structured and there was a lot of lectures and exams. Almost no independent studying.”

After returning to Finland in 1992, Hoffman continued her master’s degree studies in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. In 1997, she graduated with a master’s degree in sport and health sciences, majoring in exercise physiology. She warmly remembers her fellow students who came from different backgrounds and were of very different ages. Even though studying was theoretical, there was a plenty of practical knowledge in the student group to enhance learning. Hoffman describes her years at the faculty as valuable.

 “The members of the student group were already working in different coaching tasks in different sports,” she says. It was great to network with these skilful professionals since they had so much varied competence. I still keep in touch with them.”

Hoffman has worked for about ten years in field studies that measure the overtraining and heart rate variability of athletes at the KIHU Research Institute for Olympic Sports and the University of Jyväskylä. The main emphasis of research has related to the autonomic nervous system, heart rate variability, stress and recovery, focusing on athletes and population of working age.

In 2008, Hoffman moved to the corporate sector and she now works for Firstbeat Technologies in expert duties to promote wellbeing at work. She has combined her sports background, university research and practical lifestyle coaching in an exemplary way.

 “What I have learned from sports and research fit perfectly to the principles of wellbeing at work,” she says. “Practical work with customers is always close to my heart.”

Hoffman has participated in the implementation of corporate wellbeing projects, based on heart rate measurements, for hundreds of international clients and management teams. She is responsible for the training of international customers and partners of Firstbeat, gives lectures in Finland and internationally and writes blogs on the management of overall stress and the importance of lifestyle for wellbeing and performance. She also conducts webinars and is a sought-after guest for podcast interviews.

She strongly promotes the significance of lifestyle, stress management, the quality of sleep, exercise and physical activity for the wellbeing, work capacity and health of both the individual and the work community. Her work meritoriously focuses on Firstbeat’s data-driven observations on the basic issues related to lifestyle, and she uses statistics and facts as a natural part of her communication in Finland and internationally.

 “Communicating about wellbeing is easier when there is research knowledge and statistics on the background. Data get people’s attention and motivates them to change their lifestyle!”

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