Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Why Corporate Fitness Needs to Evolve (Like Corporate Wellness)

The elements that make up corporate fitness haven’t changed much in the almost 20 years I’ve been connected to the business. We’re still working hard to attract as many employees as possible to our programs, we’re still running fun, lighthearted games, we’re still tracking memberships, and we’re still helping employees with their exercise programs through prescription and assessment services. Group fitness is still a staple, and you still typically see corporate fitness centers with staff only in larger businesses.

Sure, equipment has changed, and there are a ton of new (albeit not necessarily better) certifications available for practitioners. Big players have more bells and whistles to win new business, but the core elements that make up a sound corporate fitness program for your employees are the same as they were years ago.

Corporate Wellness, However, Is in Flux

And yet, corporate wellness as a broader header under which corporate fitness sits has changed dramatically over the last decade. It’s still in significant flux. While the somewhat dated biometric screening and health risk assessments are still fundamental in many corporate wellness initiatives, they are losing popularity. As businesses look past the limited utility of those elements, they are turning toward opportunities to educate their employees into becoming better health care consumers as well as looking toward creative outlets for stress management along with getting back to basics by meeting basic human needs.

So why, then, is corporate fitness still doing what it’s always done? Can corporate fitness partners be part of the wellness evolution by offering solutions beyond the typical elements outlined above?

How NIFS Is Offering Evolved SolutionsThinkstockPhotos-512169680_1.jpg

We think so. Here are some of the ways we’re doing just that:

  • Personal training has a niche market; it’s the people who benefit from it and who can also afford it. We work with clients who have a lot of employees that can’t afford the luxury of a personal trainer. Rather than tell them they’re on their own, we built Personal Fitness Quest to meet that very real need. Here’s how that alternative to personal training works for us.
  • Where clients have allowed it, our staff have stocked and promoted activity centers. These simple nooks, typically carved out of high-traffic areas like the cafeteria, provide a small space were employees can take a break and focus their minds on something other than their work. They can realize the stress-relieving benefits of coloring, play their teammates in Jenga®, or listen to a relaxation meditation on an MP3 player.
  • Our staff are capital-S serious about their work; they believe completely in what they’re doing to help improve the health of the employees with whom they work. But sometimes work is a little too serious, and we understand our role is to provide a light and welcoming environment. Employees need to feel understood, and they need a place to decompress. Some days they just need a good laugh. Check out how one of our managers put a laughable spin on the benefits of being a chicken.

Corporate fitness would benefit from the lessons that old-school corporate wellness is feeling by evolving into a service that promotes holistic well-being, perhaps with an emphasis on fitness. How are you promoting more than just exercise in your corporate fitness program?

Looking for more on what can make your fitness program tick? Use the button below to download our quick read with three tips for a successful corporate fitness center.

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Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness stress NIFS corporate fitness centers group fitness personal training

NIFS Personal Fitness Quest Program Participant: Cheryl Kussow

members_speak.jpgNIFS would like to highlight Cheryl Kussow, who recently completed NIFS Personal Fitness Quest program at one of our client sites. This program takes new members through a goal-setting session, pre- and post-fitness assessment, and 8 weeks of one-on-one training sessions with an Exercise Specialist. These sessions are focused on tailoring their experience to meet their specific goals and lifestyle to pave the best path forward when beginning their exercise program in their corporate fitness facility.

Read about how Cheryl has benefited from the Personal Fitness Quest through improvement in her overall health and fitness level, managing her injuries during exercise, and perhaps the most impressive feat of crossing the finish line in her recent 30-mile benefit hike!

SHARE YOUR “STORY” OR A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I recently went back to work as a Computer System Validation Specialist and Project Manager after being home for many years with my children and working in a nonprofit. Going back to work full time was a new challenge as I tried to balance my work, family, friends, and fitness. Unfortunately, my fitness took the biggest hit.

However, I would not have traded that time at home as 4.5 years ago, my then 12-year-old son was diagnosed with Wilms kidney cancer. His life was saved through sports, strangely enough, as a hit in the side with a lacrosse stick sent us for a revealing CAT scan that identified this unknown tumor. Through surgery and chemo, my son Seth used his dedication and willpower he learned in sports to get through this difficult time. In fact, a Make-a-Wish trip to the Pro Bowl was one of the biggest motivations that kept his spirits up (and meeting a bunch of Packers and Colts players!).

Sports were the center of his life, and I decided that fitness needed to take a stronger priority in mine too, so I could continue to enjoy my family and all of the fun family hiking/camping vacations around the USA we took. My husband and I also made a commitment to raising money, not only for Make-a-Wish but also for CureSearch, which provides funding for pediatric cancer research and resources for families. To do this, we signed up for the CureSearch Ultimate Hike, a one-day, 30-mile hike on the Tecumseh Trail in southern Indiana (and other sites around the USA), blending both goals together. October 3 was hike day, and I had some work to do to get in shape!

WHY DID YOU JOIN THIS PROGRAM?

As I mentioned above, I wanted to improve my fitness for myself and to prepare for a long hike. I was walking 9 miles a week and doing some cardio classes, but did not feel that would be sufficient. One of my main goals was to incorporate more strength training. I have always felt less confident in doing strength training—knowing the best exercises, how to do them correctly, and knowing how much weight to use. Often at other gyms I previously attended, the cost was prohibitive or the trainers were very critical and viewed you as “unfit” if you were not in super shape or thin. Stephanie created a great positive atmosphere to reach my goals through personal training.

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT THE PROGRAM?

First, Stephanie, my trainer, did a great job in understanding my goals—specifically that I wanted to successfully hike 30 miles in one day and get stronger, but also that I had a few injuries to work around, too. She modified exercises as needed and really worked with me to improve my weaker areas, especially ones related to hiking long distances and up and down hills. One of the best parts about working with her, though, was I felt I made a new friend, too, in our conversations during training. Even though I am done officially training with her, I can ask her for help when I am working out in the gym; she has encouraged me to try other classes, keeps me accountable when she hasn’t seen me, and even can tell when I may need to modify an exercise if I am struggling. It is great not to feel judged or silly asking questions about how to use a particular piece of equipment. She is very patient and explains exercises well.

WHAT DID YOU ACCOMPLISH DURING THE PROGRAM?

During the program and the training I did on my own, I improved my fitness greatly as evidenced by my improved strength, weight (15 pounds) and inches lost, balance, and ankle and core stability. I also felt it helped me reduce my stress and make healthier food choices. I felt that I could be fit and full of energy.

Of course the huge goal I had set with my husband was also achieved. Hiking 30 miles in 14 hours on a hilly trail in the dark, cold, and rain for much of the day was a challenge but a success. We also raised over $5,600 personally, and the hike as a whole raised over $90,000 for pediatric cancer. It was incredibly emotional, inspirational, and spiritual (and, well, occasionally painful!) event, although I recovered quickly after the hike.

My knee did start bothering me going down hills for some time in the middle and I slowed down quite a lot, but I was determined to finish. Advil, adrenaline, conditioned muscles, and the power of prayer kicked in, and all of a sudden I was pain free and started booking. I just had to think about the moms on the hike who had lost children to cancer, or I thought about God’s blessing of my son Seth’s survival and how he powered through all he had to endure. Had you asked me before, though, if I would have ever thought I could hike that far, I don’t think I would have had that confidence without the training and encouragement I received by participating in this program. It is amazing that through training and hiking, my new friends and I were able to help fund critical cancer research and get in shape too!

HOW DID THE PROGRAM HELP YOU TO STAY MOTIVATED?

Having a time set every week to meet and exercise was critical as I find that accountability very important for my motivation. In fact, now that we don’t have our regularly scheduled time as my eight sessions are up, I have to find some other ways to make sure I don’t push the commitment away. Luckily the gym has also had a few other mini incentive programs to help keep us active, and I have also had a chance to meet others in the gym, which helps. I like having that social interaction. Having someone to work out with you either as a trainer coaching you individually or with others in a class keeps me working hard (It would be way too easy to give up if I was on my own!).

ANY OTHER THOUGHTS YOU WISH TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE?

I encourage everyone to set goals in both your life and your fitness plans and seek others to help you on that journey to wellness. The blessings of strength you can gain can then be used as a blessing to others!

~ Cheryl Kussow

Interested in how you can do better in your corporate fitness center? Download our quick read for three tips for a successful corporate fitness center for your employees.

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Topics: corporate fitness walking motivation NIFS accountability Personal Fitness Quest personal training

A Simple Way to Boost Participation in Your Corporate Fitness Center

Our staff are routinely focused on how they can grow participation in the corporate fitness centers they manage. Granted, they don’t have to work that hard at it in January, and maybe into February, but beyond those first two months of the year, the remaining ten months can prove challenging for meeting their participation goals.

ThinkstockPhotos-465140373.jpgOne of the ways they work on achieving specific participation numbers is through successful programming. It’s not rocket science, but you do have to know your members and understand what works with them in order to build effective programs. That’s why our crew is so focused on evaluating their offerings; the results help them better understand how to provide incentive and educational programs tailored to the interests and needs of the audience they’re serving.

Tapping into existing successes

One of our managers at a corporate fitness center in New York created a simple St. Patrick’s Day–themed program to help New Year’s resolution makers carry through with their newfound exercise habits into March. For this program, she set specific goals to increase fitness center visits (targeting eight or more monthly visits per member) and to increase participation in group fitness classes.

 

Each member who signed up for the program was given a small pot (“pot-o-gold”) into which they could place the gold coins they received for coming in to work out on their own or to take a class. She weighted the group class participation by giving two coins for each class. The participant goal was to collect as many gold coins (get as many visits) as possible for the duration of the program. Supplies for the program cost about $30.

[Related Content: 3 Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget]
 

Simplicity wins

Members provided feedback that one of the things they enjoyed about the program was its simplicity. It was both easy to understand and easy to participate. When work and personal lives are so complicated and hectic, it’s refreshing to have the corporate fitness center offer no-brainer incentives as a diversion and stress reliever. Not only was the program easy for the members, but our manager reported that she appreciated the simplicity as well; there were no detailed spreadsheets to manage, no massive uptick in 1:1 appointments to juggle, and no convoluted formulas to compute to determine program winners. In fact, even marketing the program was easy—who doesn’t want to win a pot of gold?

The NIFS manager reported that she saw several new faces engaging in group fitness who have continued taking classes long after the program concluded, and some associates who hadn’t completed their memberships hustled through their remaining steps so that they could participate in the program. Overall, she saw 72 percent of program participants workout out at least eight times during the month-long initiative, substantially higher than her typical frequent visitor percentage. Additionally, group fitness class participation increased by 15 percent.

Want to get your hands on other great program ideas that have been tested and proven in corporate fitness?  See what we've outlined as NIFS Best Practice programming.

 

Topics: corporate fitness motivation corporate fitness centers participation program planning Corporate Best Practices, group fitness incentives

Corporate Fitness: Should You Pay Employees for Workouts?

 

ThinkstockPhotos-468984741.jpgThere’s a lot of misinformation out there on what is and is not good for you. The science changes all the time; unfortunately, changes in health information can sometimes depend on who’s funding the provider. So it can be hard to trust the latest press release “proving” the next best strategy for preventing disease and living longer. Despite the confusing messaging, there are a few constants on health you can count on:

  • Tobacco use is bad for you.
  • Moving your body is good for you.

I don’t want to get into a discussion of which is more important to employee health; there are too many complicating and personal factors to establish such a case. Instead, I’ll focus on physical activity because I think it represents a substantial area of opportunity for employers when considering options that fit into the “doing wellness for (or even with) employees” mantra.

Plenty of employers offer some kind of option for exercise at work, whether that be with group exercise classes onsite, workouts in a full-blown corporate fitness center, or walking trails on the property. In most cases those amenities/offerings are a use-at-your-own-risk proposition. There’s very little leadership support or communication about how to get involved, so only those employees who feel most strongly about pursuing regular exercise actually have the motivation to engage. And then employers wonder why participation is so low.

So here we are at this weird crossroads where employers try a few fitness-based options at the worksite for employees, very few employees enjoy the benefits of those programs, and employers are frustrated. What’s a company to do?

To be fair, we can’t expect everyone to want to exercise. Employers should have realistic expectations about how many people they can draw into these offerings. If you’re looking for ways to tip the scales that make a work-sponsored group fitness class look a little more attractive to your workforce, consider the idea of compensated workout time. Here’s why this is worth your attention:

  • It’s no secret that time, or lack of it, is a primary barrier for your employees participating in regular physical activity. Couple the lack of time with the idea that your employees spend about nine hours per day at the office, and you have yourself a significant potential audience.
  • However, if the workplace culture or departmental mantra is about working harder, producing more, and keeping butts in the seats, then the convenience of a workplace fitness option is a moot point.
  • Alternatively, if we can pay them for 45 minutes of working out three days per week, now we might be onto something that sends a true message about how important the employer feels it is for employees to make healthy choices. And before you read this and exclaim, “We already do that…it’s called a lunch break,” what I’m advocating is 45 minutes beyond the lunch break. For an employee making $25/hour who works out, walks, or takes a group exercise class three days per week during this compensated time, it costs the company about $2,800 a year ($25/hr x 75% of an hour x 3d/wk x 50wk/yr).

Maybe you can’t afford compensated exercise time for your employees. But before you discount it outright, do what my mom always encourages me to do with a big decision. Make a pro/con list. Consider all the health benefits of engaging in regular physical activity compared to the lost work time on your bottom line. Weigh the positive of increased employee loyalty and creativity against the straight dollar cost. Understand the value of really supporting your employees’ quest for better health versus only paying it lip service. If the tick marks in your pro column outweigh those in the con column, you just might have your answer.

Need tips to get your employees moving more?  Download our whitepaper to help you get started with adding exercise to your worksite wellness program.

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Topics: exercise at work employee health group exercise corporate fitness motivation incentives workouts

Three Ways to Improve Corporate Fitness Programming on a Small Budget

staff001.jpgSometimes employers go all in on their investment in a corporate fitness center. Thousands of square feet are dedicated to treadmill upon treadmill, thoughtful changing facilities, ample group exercise space, creative equipment solutions, and around-the-clock dedicated fitness staff.

But that’s not the reality for most employers. It’s important to remember that corporate fitness doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. You can provide programs, services, and (probably most importantly) an environment that’s conducive to movement. So if you’re trying to improve the exercise options you provide onsite for your employees, but you’re on a tight budget, consider these ideas.

1. If you have dedicated staff for an exercise program, invite them to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades.

Most exercise professionals with a college degree have a background in more than just exercise. It’s common for an exercise science curriculum to fold in public health, nutrition basics, stress resilience, and other health-related disciplines. We work with one client who has a small fitness center and no additional budget for fitness programming, and rather than lock our staff down to the four walls of the fitness center, they are out and about providing healthy lectures, offering stretch breaks at key shift-change intervals, and coordinating extra workplace wellness services like onsite chair massage.

2. Consider group fitness classes.

Sure, dancing to music isn’t for everyone, but group fitness has come a long way. You don’t have to be coordinated or be able to keep the beat to enjoy a great class. And if your office includes meeting space with tables and chairs that can be pushed to the walls, you probably have everything you need to run a class. Instructor costs can be paid for by employees, subsidized by the employer, or paid in full by the employer. Check out our quick read: Three Keys to Adding Group Exercise at Work.

3. Think long and hard about your environment.

How are your employees encouraged to work, and how are your leaders and managers incentivized to run their teams? Are employees expected to sit glued to their screens all day to make a quota? Do your managers have substantial pressure to meet the same quota? These kinds of unwritten cultural norms make it almost impossible for an employee to take a 10-minute walking break. Can that mindset be shifted over time? This article suggests that employers have to start taking a look at creative ways to address employee stress.

What about your physical space? Maybe you can’t have a dedicated space for employee exercise, and even group exercise classes in an unused meeting room seems out of bounds. Perhaps simple signage encouraging the use of stairs instead of elevators would be a starting point to encouraging employees to move more.

Think about incentives for exercise differently. Good, old-fashioned behavioral economics around loss aversion could help you build an inexpensive incentive model for encouraging more frequent exercise in a sedentary workforce.

Don’t let a lack of physical space or dedicated staff derail your brainstorming about ways to inject more opportunities for activity at the office. The options are only limited by your creativity (not your budget).

  Tips for adding exercise


Topics: corporate fitness stress corporate fitness centers fitness programming exercise in the workplace group fitness workplace wellness

When It Pays to Be a Chicken in Workplace Wellness

Melanie.jpgBeing a chicken is definitely frowned upon. If someone is known for being scared to take on a task or fails to address a situation because it’s too much of a challenge, chances are they have been labeled.

But what if you dressed like a chicken? It does take a bit of bravery, but it can help your mission by making a memorable statement.

We have an annual event for National Walk at Lunch Day, where employees are encouraged to walk outside over their lunch hour. This is also a kickoff event for our Fitness Challenge: a 10-week challenge for employees to stay consistently active and log their activity online in efforts to beat out other states doing the same. National Walk at Lunch Day happens around springtime when many people are stuck in their winter routine of being indoors—be that an indoor workout or, sadly, in most cases, an indoor sitting marathon.

Enter the Chicken Costume

As employees made their way outside, I strutted around greeting people with exclamations of “Bak, Bak, Bak!” and my versions of the chicken dance.

It’s a fun adventure to catch people off guard. Costumes often make that happen because they are unexpected. And you know you’ve done your job when you get smiles in return or people shaking their heads in surprise.

Of course bottled water, fruit, trail mix, and sandwiches helped our cause at the event, but the chicken-themed messages were just beginning because the Fitness Challenge was only Day One. Over the next 10 weeks, our motto was “Don’t Chicken Out.” We encouraged people to join the fitness challenge through email blasts with subject lines laced with chicken references or cartoon or movie quotes from Chicken Little, Chicken Run, or Looney Tunes’ Foghorn Leghorn. Just a few:

  • We Are Chicky for the Challenge!
  • Chick It Out! We’re in First Place!
  • I’m Chicken’ on You! Don’t Slack Off!
  • We Are Down to the “Chicken” Wire. This Competition Is Close!
  • Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? To finish the Fitness Challenge.

What I Learned

By the end of the challenge, I had learned several things:

  • People were responsive to the program because they enjoyed the humor.
  • The theme allowed for more creative ways to communicate than standard, monotonous program updates.
  • Employees anticipated the next email, instead of dreading or deleting it without reading it.
  • I was asked to “speak” at department meetings in costume, advertising the program and encouraging participation. Most just wanted to see a chicken, but it opened doors to promote the challenge.
  • Sometimes during the challenge, I wanted to email-yell or nag employees to get a move on, but funneling that competitiveness into catchy, humorous characters and slogans was more effective at getting people’s attention—and their increased participation in the activity.
  • I was able to enjoy sending out communications and I loved the responses I received from those who were also entertained by them. I got a lot of “Thanks for the laugh. I needed that!” messages.

Bottom line: Being a chicken in your workplace isn’t always bad.

It can go a long way in giving employees the motivation to take action in corporate fitness. Just make sure you pick the right breed. Spring is right around the corner, how do you plan to engage employees to participate in activities such as Walk at Lunch Day, or Bike to Work Day?  Download our whitepaper: 5 tips for maximizing employee enagement below to find the best ways to get your employees involved in your wellness strategy!

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Topics: corporate fitness motivation participation workplace wellness

Show your Support for Employee Health


ThinkstockPhotos-171337565.jpgAs you kick off the New Year in your workplace, you will probably overhear many of your employees talking about being healthier this year, and their New Year’s resolutions. Eating better, participating in more physical activity, stressing less, establishing a better work-life balance… the list goes on. If your workforce is like the majority of people who have the best intentions of improving their health this year, many will be unsuccessful once work and life get back in the way.

The good news is that healthy habits can be created and maintained in the workplace with a little help from leadership (and who doesn’t want healthy employees?). Here are some ideas that you can incorporate at your workplace to help your employees stick to their health resolutions and show your support for employee health.

Allow employees to schedule time for physical activity throughout the day.

Studies show workers who are able to participate in activity throughout the workday are more productive, so this is a win-win for you and the employee! Making it known to your workforce that you support a break to exercise can go a long way toward changing the health culture in your workplace. If there is no access to a fitness center or group fitness classes in your facility, this year could be the time to explore some options that best fit your workplace needs.

Have healthy snacks available.

If you have the budget to purchase healthy snacks for your employees, great! Have a few common areas stocked with healthy options made available to employees. If you are relying on your vending machine, look to ensure that you have a good variety of healthy choices clearly labeled and available.

Provide opportunities to better manage stress.

Work comes with stressors that can trigger negative thoughts and health habits among your employees. This can be as simple as allowing employees to step away from their desk to go for a short walk or allowing them to take a few minutes to watch a cat video to get a good laugh. Other options that come with a price tag but would be very popular include having a massage therapist provide ten-minute chair massages every few months, or a yoga instructor one or two days a week to provide your employees with an opportunity to unwind.

Allow for a power nap.

Who would have thought that we had it right back in preschool? Many are sleep deprived and it is impacting the quality of work that is delivered and increasing chances for other health risks. Allowing your employees to take a 20-minute power nap can result in a more productive day with fewer mistakes than a day with no nap.

Identify your health champions and put them to work!

They will love that you thought of them, and they have been secretly or openly plotting how they could make this happen and probably have great ideas to share. Let your nutrition nut run with the task of having healthy snacks readily available around the office, and let your fitness guru seek out a few fitness opportunities that can be taken advantage of in the conference room (if you do not have an onsite fitness center). They will also be great about rallying the employees to get on board with the new efforts.

Looking to help your employees have the resources they need to be healthy?  Click below to download our whitepaper for tips to add exercise to your wellness program.

Download Now

 

Topics: employee health corporate fitness productivity new year

Employee Wellness Programming Beyond the Corporate Fitness Center

I shared a few months ago about our staff following the KISS principle (that’s “keep it super simple” in our world!) on an exercise-based program with one of our clients. (You can find out more about the NIFS150 corporate fitness program here.) I wanted to update you on that program’s outcomes and talk about our latest challenge.

ASAP_blog_image.jpgOne of the outcomes we saw from that program was that a lot of the participants did not exercise in the corporate fitness center during the initiative, and frankly, that was by design. We were mostly interested in supporting and inspiring employees to achieve 150 minutes of activity each week, so we eliminated the “must be accomplished in the corporate fitness center” barrier by allowing participants to log any activity accomplished anywhere. After all, the primary job of our fitness center managers and health fitness specialists is to get employees moving. If it’s activity in the corporate fitness center, even better. But with today’s frantic schedules, we’ll take any movement, anywhere, anytime.

The Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP)

In another creative effort designed to help employees make healthy choices across the spectrum of health (not just fitness), our staff created the Active Summer Adventure Program (ASAP) challenge. In this unique corporate wellness program built on a theme of exploration, participants have the following weekly challenges to complete:

  • Hydration Lagoon: Drink 64 ounces of water each day of the week.
  • Adventure Park: Try a new outdoor activity.
  • Meditation Meadow: Practice meditation, breathing exercises, or stretches on four days this week.
  • Fitness Fountain: Try a new group exercise class, DVD, or at-home workout.
  • Traveling Trail: Accumulate at least 7,000 to 10,000 steps one day this week.
  • Feel-Good Farm: Pack a healthy lunch three days during the week.
  • Progress Paradise: Complete two fitness center screenings (BMI, circumference, blood pressure, body composition, resting heart rate, or body weight) this week.
  • Journaling Jungle: Keep a food log for three days this week.

As was the case with the NIFS150 program, our goal with the ASAP program was to make it accessible for everyone. It was promoted to all employees, including those who work at home. We ran it over summer months when it can be particularly challenging to attract employees into the corporate fitness center. The online registration and website access for weekly challenges made it simple for all participants to have the information they needed to be successful.

And, in keeping with many of our programs, we offered prize drawings for employees who successfully completed all eight quests. Consistent with the “adventure” theme of the program, most prizes were experience-oriented (such as tickets to theme parks, state park passes, and surfing lessons) rather than stuff-oriented (such as wearable tech, shirts, and gym bags).

ASAP Employee Wellness Results

In a post-program survey we learned that almost 84% of responders believed they adopted a new healthy behavior by participating in ASAP. And that’s consistent with their rating of “accountability to try something new” as their favorite program feature. Participants also reported learning something new about health during this program. Although weight loss was not a focus for this program, 43% of survey respondents reported losing weight or inches during the eight-week offering. Almost 60% reported having more energy, and about one-quarter of participants indicated that they were sleeping better. Through the post-program survey, we also gained valuable insights on how we can improve the program if we offer it again next year.

Looking for more creative corporate fitness programming? Check out our best practice series by clicking the button below.

NIFS Best Practices Corporate

Topics: corporate wellness corporate fitness employee wellness corporate fitness centers participation program planning program evaluation CORP Programs and Services

Why Group Fitness Belongs in Your Corporate Wellness Program

I’ve never been that into group fitness. I’m simply more of a solo exerciser. But starting my career managing corporate fitness centers, it became clear to me very quickly that my personal philosophy about where group classes fit into my routine was counter to a sizable minority of members in the facilities I supported.

There is something about that group dynamic that works for participants. Whether it’s the energy of others, the instructor who tells you what to do, or the music that moves your feet, something draws participants in and keeps them coming back.


Mixed Adherence and Retention Results

Researchers have long been studying variables that can influence exercise adherence; and to date, outcomes from various studies have been in conflict. For example, the S.W.E.A.T. study on women ages 40 to 65 showed that group-based exercise in a “center” setting compared with home-based individual exercise netted better retention. But other research indicates that home-based interventions demonstrated better adherence over time.

We do know that positive social support from both staff and peers directly in the exercise setting is important, and group classes provide a built-in social network. Also, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) polled gym members for their primary areas of participation and found that about 43% of gym members participate in group exercise.

NIFS Poll Shows Benefits of Group Fitness Classes

Anecdotally, I know of several individuals who have been able to dramatically improve their health primarily through group classes. So when we polled our NIFS corporate group fitness class participants about their experiences with our classes, I wasn’t terribly surprised at the results.

We polled all employees at our client locations in Indianapolis, Indiana, where we’re offering group fitness classes. In some cases, we’re providing only classes at a location, whereas in other locations we’re managing the corporate fitness center along with providing classes. Here’s what we learned:

  • Just over one-third of responders indicated that NIFS group fitness classes were their primary source of exercise through the week.
  • Almost 80% indicated that they exercise more often because of the group fitness classes available at their office.
  • Roughly three quarters of responders noted personal health improvements since they started taking group classes with NIFS instructors.
  • A full 96% indicated that the classes at their worksite were a definite employee perk.

The numbers tell us that group fitness is still a fantastic way for employers to create exercise opportunities for their employees. It’s a low-cost (or no-cost if employees pay) option that doesn’t require much equipment or space, and it can net positive health outcomes for employees. It just may earn you loyalty points as well.

If you’re sold on the idea of adding group exercise classes to your corporate wellness offerings but aren’t sure where to start, check out this blog and our quick read: 3 keys to adding group fitness at work.

Topics: group exercise corporate fitness motivation NIFS corporate fitness managment data corporate wellness consulting

What if: There was more than one class of elite performers at work?

Throughout 2015, we’ll be blogging about our dreams for corporate wellness, fitness, and aging well.  Some of the content will represent a gentle “poking fun” at the industry, but it’s all written to stimulate thought about what really could be if we put our heads together and started mapping out what’s really possible in the realm of individual wellbeing.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting on the blogs, giving us additional ideas about which to write, and/or by finding us out on Twitter at #wellnesswhatif.

ThinkstockPhotos-462481969Businesses need top performers in order to survive.  We need sales staff who are heavy hitters, research staff who are actually rocket scientists, and customer service professionals who can turn any frown upside down.  You know who those folks are in your organization, that top 5% of all performers.  In some cases, they might be unsung heroes, but at a lot of businesses, the best among us are often publically lauded.  They are the elite.

Not everyone can fit into that narrow industry-specific definition of elite.  But maybe, if business leaders opened their minds on what counts as elite, we could have more than one class of top-tier.

What if you didn’t have to exceed your sales quota to be considered among the elite at your worksite?  Don’t get me wrong.  You’d still have to work really hard.  After all, becoming top tier is definitely hard work.  Some would say rising to the top requires strength, agility, grace under stress.

According to a study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center found one way to get in the top 5% is to sweat.  In their analysis of the American Time Use survey, they concluded that only one in 20 Americans engage in vigorous exercise (the kind that makes you sweat) on any given day. 

That’s right, a paltry 5% of us are working hard enough when we workout to actually sweat.

What does this have to do with employee health? 

The way to sustained weight loss is through a healthy diet combined with prolonged cardiovascular exercise (45-60 minutes) at least five days per week.  Employers - if you want a workforce that is at a healthier body weight, you have to (among other things) create an environment that supports and provides opportunities for your employees to workout hard enough to sweat.  You need to build a corporate health culture that supports breaking a sweat in your worksite fitness center or through another avenue of the employee’s choice.

Certainly, there’s more to individual well-being than being physically fit.  But I wonder how many employees hold back on working out because of their environment (lack of access, lack of support).  What if businesses publicly rewarded the exercising (aka sweaty) elite along-side the elite sales force?

Download our whitepaper for tips to incorporate exercise at your worksite wellness program.

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Topics: corporate fitness worksite wellness what if