Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Sarah Johnson

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NIFS: How a simple squat challenge helped corporate fitness metrics

squat_challengeWhen our members talk, we listen.  Sometimes we get good old fashioned direct, face-to-face feedback about what’s working and what isn’t, and sometimes they tell us what’s working by their participation.  Such was the case with a recent squat challenge we ran at one of our corporate sites.  In fact, the simple challenge was so effective, we’ve proceeded to design more programming around the same concept. 

Here’s a little of the history and data on the original corporate fitness center program:

The 30 Day Squat Challenge was designed to help our members get up from their desks and choose to be active during the long and busy work days in August.  The challenge ran the duration of August and we established a set number of daily squats the participants needed to complete, with every third day being a rest day. The participants could do the squats where ever they wanted (though we love when they come to the fitness center to do them) and they had all day to complete them, but they had to log their efforts at the Wellness Center.

On the first day of the challenge, the expectation was for participants to complete 50 squats, and by the end of the challenge, successful participants completed 250 squats!  We would never advocate performing 250 squats in a row (or even 50 in a row, for that matter), so allowing participants all day to complete the squats was a must.

I loved hearing the stories about when and where participants were squatting and who they were convincing to participate with them. A lot of members got their kids and spouses involved, making it a family affair. We had a bulletin board in the fitness center with squat variations and modifications for members to follow and we integrated the squats into our group fitness classes to keep the participants motivated.  It was really fun seeing everyone squatting in the fitness center; it really turned out to be a group effort.

When we mapped out this program, we set three goals we hoped to achieve by running the Squat Challenge:

  1. We wanted to increase visits to the fitness center by three percent compared to August 2013.  This is a tough month for us to draw our members in because many of the employees are sneaking in final summer vacation time before their kids head off to school.
  2. For those members who participated in the challenge, we wanted them to increase their total time spent being active through the day by 10 minutes each day.  We know how important even short, 10 minute bouts of physical activity can be for an individual’s health and we wanted to see if this program provided a means of stimulating more movement in our employee population.
  3. Finally, we set a goal to achieve a 50% completion rate.  We’re constantly trying to determine what’s most effective at helping our members stick with a program, and we hoped to learn a little more about how small exercise goals might influence success rates.

The Squat Challenge was very successful with 50% completion rate.  We also met our fitness center visit goal (increased by three percent) for August, 2014, and half of the program participants reported that that increased their total active minutes per day by at least 10 minutes.  On top of the great numbers we also fielded some positive feedback.  One member said, “Loved this Challenge!  [It] made my legs so much stronger, [I] love when you can honestly feel results in a short amount of time.”  Another program participant said, “I started Roller Derby and if I hadn't done the squat challenge, I seriously would not have made it thru the 1st practice. So thank you Squat Challenge!” 

Up next is an Ab Challenge.  We can’t wait to see how the members do and what we can achieve for participation and completion goals. 

If you’d like to learn more about NIFS best in class programming for corporate fitness centers, sign up for our best practice series. 

NIFS Best Practices Corporate



Topics: corporate fitness fitness programming