Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 2

ThinkstockPhotos-652753748.jpgIn part 1 of this blog series, I emphasized the following points:

  • It’s natural to feel unmotivated. Many of us are juggling complex family and work lives, making it even harder to find motivation to exercise and eat healthy.
  • Don’t berate yourself for not feeling motivated. This type of negative self-talk can be counterproductive; Saying you are “lazy” or “bad” can decrease motivation.
  • Don’t wait until you feel motivated to make healthy changes. You could be waiting for a very long time.

If lack of motivation is the most common barrier to healthy eating and exercising regularly, then lack of time is a very close second. My next blog emphasizes the importance of having a consistent schedule when it comes to making healthy choices about exercising and eating.

TIP: Make a Schedule That Makes Your Goals a Reality

Someone once told me, “The difference between success and failure is your schedule. You need a schedule that makes your goal a reality.” Orienting your goals around your schedule is key to achieving success, primarily because the more consistently you exercise and eat healthy, the more results you will see. And the more results you see, the easier it will be to stay motivated.

Here are some tips on how you can maximize your schedule.

  • Identify the time of day that you are most consistently able to schedule exercise. This might be 5am before work or during your lunch break. Or perhaps the only extra time you have is while you wait for your kids to finish soccer practice. Regardless of the time, make it a point to schedule exercise on those days and STICK TO IT. Even if you can only fit in 20 minutes of exercise, those 20 minutes are better than no exercise at all.
  • Make time to do meal prep. I think this is THE most important factor when it comes to weight loss. After all, weight loss is achieved in the kitchen, not through exercise. Set aside time to prepare your meals for the week. Pre-preparing meals allows you to control portion sizes and have options readily available for days when you can’t control your schedule (like when your child gets sick or when there is a work-related emergency). It also makes it less likely that you order takeout.
  • Figure out what you are willing to sacrifice. You may need to shuffle your priorities to find time in your schedule to exercise. For example, how much time do you spend watching TV or surfing the internet? According to a recent report by Nielsen, the average American spends 4.5 hours watching live TV (not DVR-recorded shows) per DAY. If you have time to watch TV or surf the internet, you have time to exercise or do meal prep.

The Bottom Line

Create a schedule that will promote your success and stick to it as often as possible.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Don’t Wait Until You “Feel Motivated” to Make Healthy Changes: Part 1

When I ask people what prevents them from exercising and practicing healthy eating, one of the most common responses is, “I just don’t feel motivated.”

I’m here to tell you that you will never see the results you want to see if you wait to “feel” motivation.

I’m not saying this to be cruel or insensitive. I’m saying this because—in my experience—this is the reality of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and exercising on a regular basis is HARD. It’s even harder when you factor in how much time and energy you already dedicate to your family, work, and other personal pursuits (like educational or volunteer efforts). If you wait to feel motivated to make these healthy changes, you’ll be waiting for a long, long time.

Are there people out there who naturally feel motivated to eat healthily and exercise? Of course, but I’d be willing to bet that most of them had to learn to motivate themselves. How do you teach yourself to feel motivated? In this blog series, I share my thoughts about the links between motivation and healthy lifestyle choices. I also share a few tips and tricks on how to teach yourself to feel more motivated. Here is my first tip:

TIP: Give Yourself Permission to Feel Unmotivated

ThinkstockPhotos-829414944.jpgThat’s right, it’s okay to feel unmotivated! After all, it’s a natural feeling that extends to many aspects of our lives. How many of us really feel motivated to fold that last load of laundry? Or make our beds in the morning? Or write that last report of the month? At some point, we all struggle with motivation.

Many of my clients have expressed guilt or shame because they don’t feel motivated to exercise or eat healthy. I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t berate yourself for feeling this way. Most of us aren’t skipping gleefully up to the front doors of the gym, bursting with excitement at the opportunity to sweat and push ourselves to our physical limits for a 60-minute spin class. Most of us are thinking about how tired we are, how we’re going to get our kids to finish their homework without a fight, how the house is a mess, or any of the five million other things that need to be done in any given day.

The same can be said for eating healthy: Most of us aren’t drooling in anticipation when we order plain grilled chicken breast and steamed broccoli, especially when there are other savory options like hamburgers and pizza and French fries.

The Bottom Line

It’s natural to feel unmotivated, but you are not “lazy” or “bad” for feeling that way. What matters is how you address that unmotivated feeling. Watch for part 2 for more tips on how a schedule can help you feel more motivated.

Looking for how you can provide successful programs for your employees?  Click below for our free guide.

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Topics: motivation goal setting healthy choices healthy eating exercising

Why Employee Purpose Could Be the Heart of Corporate Wellness

ThinkstockPhotos-492012688.jpgI know... "purpose" for your employees sounds all New Age-y or like some wellness vendor ploy to not have to put up numbers for a client. But the truth is, there is quite a bit of science behind the health benefits of individuals living with a sense of purpose. In fact, scientists attribute better pain management, longevity, and slower rates of cognitive decline to a sense of purpose in adults. For an outline of some of the research-based findings of the benefits of purpose, check out this article.

If you believe the research, you're left with a question about how to put it into practice. The answer may lie in understanding what you want for your employees. Sometimes genuine care and concern for employee well-being is the starting point for building a corporate wellness program, but it's easy to lose sight of that initial impetus, and very quickly the focus becomes the search for elusive metrics (and unicorns).

So maybe it's time to put the employees front and center (again) and make them the heart of corporate wellness. Here are some simple ways you can do that with purpose at the core of what you offer in your programming:

  • Allow for volunteering: There are health benefits for individuals who volunteer on a regular basis. But with the schedules we keep (much of which is tied up in demands for our jobs), who has time to give back? Employers can make it a little easier for employees to make their world a better place by building service days into the PTO policy.
  • Recognize that your staff members are more than who you see at work: Supervisors have a heavy responsibility to build and sustain an engaged workforce. One giant leap toward fostering a positive and healthy work environment that leads to engagement is by supervisors getting to know their employees. I don't mean you have to start hosting happy hours and cookouts. What you can easily start doing, however, is using your one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to listen for what makes your staff tick, and then look for opportunities to speak to those passions.
  • Turn the traditional incentives into incentives to give: Corporate fitness programs are full of incentive programs and challenges that are designed to creatively invite employees to move more for the potential to win some kind of prize at the end of the event. Consider swapping out those traditional program prizes for an opportunity to turn minutes exercising into money for a cause.

Imagine that you're the employee who works for the company that makes good on its promise to deliver all three of the experiences listed above. How do you feel about coming to work? How do you talk about your employer to friends and family? How do you process competitive offers to change jobs when they come your way?

Considering employee purpose as a central pillar in your corporate wellness program isn't just a nice idea; it's the right thing to do for the well-being and motivation of your employees and your business.

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Topics: corporate wellness motivation volunteering, incentives employee purpose

Get Rid of Winter Blues with Attitude, Fitness, and More

ThinkstockPhotos-78053977.jpgAfter the excitement of holiday parties and festivities slows down, we sometimes find ourselves in a funk. Life can seem a bit slow, minimal sunlight and weather keeps us cooped up inside, and we feel a bit sluggish. Get rid of winter blues with these tips to warm the soul.

Warm Your Mind

  • Think positively. When you’re feeling drained, it’s important to keep a glass-half-full mindset. Positive thinking starts with taking control and responsibility for your mind and attitude. A bad mood can be flipped simply by taking a slow, deep breath. In that moment you can change your entire day.
  • Be nice to yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, so let yourself move forward.
  • Smile. A simple smile can do wonders for your mind. How negative can you be if you are smiling?
  • Meditate. Meditation is a great way to keep the mind healthy and thinking happy thoughts. It can be as long or short as desired. Meditation forces the mind to focus on the moment, allowing us to leave the world for a while and de-stress. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

Warm Your Body

  • Move. Moving more throughout the day keeps blood circulating to all parts of the body. This includes blood flow to the brain, increasing alertness and productivity. (Here are some tips for finding motivation for winter fitness.)
  • Break a sweat. Working out can provide feelings of accomplishment and happiness. Exercise causes serotonin secretion, the catalyst for a great mood. 
  • Practice mindful eating and nutrition. It’s easy to get carried away indulging in favorite comfort foods. The downfall is that they are typically high in carbs and fats. Although you think you want these foods, it’s not what your body needs. Stick to the basic guidelines: half of your plate fruits and veggies, one quarter protein, and a quarter grains.

Warm Your Heart

  • Pay it forward. Do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return. We’ve all heard about buying coffee for the person who’s in line behind you. If you’ve experienced this, you understand how great the heart-warming gesture feels and why you might do the same for a stranger the next time. However, paying it forward does not have to be monetary. Simple notions such as opening the door or smiling as you say, “Hello” to someone can go a long way and often creates a ripple effect. One day, I came across an envelope lying on a bench, addressed as “to whoever comes across this.” I opened it to find a card with an incredibly nice and uplifting note written inside. It ended with a request to leave the card in a new place in order to brighten someone else’s day.
  • Don’t be alone… all the time. Surround yourself with positive people. Spend time with those who make you laugh, who make you feel good about yourself, with people who motivate and encourage you.
  • Play or exercise with puppies. Animals and pets can have a therapeutic effect on us humans. Find a furry friend to give your attention and love to; I prefer puppies. Don’t have any around? Visit a local animal shelter, or better yet, volunteer your time and double up on the fuzzy feelings!

Warm Your Spirit

  • Be grateful. Showing gratitude shifts focus away from you and brings mindfulness to a greater purpose in life, helping strengthen the Spiritual Dimension of Wellness. Take a minute to let someone know that you are thankful for them or for something that they did. Writing down what you are grateful for can affect your spiritual side in a similar way.

How do you stay warm when the winter blues roll in, comment below.

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Topics: nutrition winter fitness motivation fitness meditation mindful eating winter blues

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

NIFS Health Coach Gets “Shamed” over Her Nutrition Choices

ThinkstockPhotos-147092372.jpgThe other day I went out to dinner at a restaurant to celebrate a friend’s recent work promotion. Being a health-conscious person, I ordered grilled chicken and a salad with a small glass of wine. As I handed my menu to the waiter, my friends commented about how I didn’t “need a salad” and that I should “eat what I want” because I exercise enough.

I laughed off the comments and said I was trying real hard to practice what I preached (they all know I am a health coach, after all). Plus, if I wanted a cheeseburger and fries, I would order them. Everything in moderation, right?

Dessert: A Food-Choice Hot Button

When it came time for dessert, the conversation quickly turned to questions about who was going to order what. Maybe I was feeling a little sensitive because of the comments about my earlier food choices, but it seemed like my friends were looking for validation rather than simply wanting to know what my dessert of choice would be. I ordered a small sundae, not because I wanted something sweet, but because I didn’t want to seem like the odd one out.

Toward the end of the meal, one of them pointed out that I had only a few bites of my sundae and declared I was “making her feel terrible” for eating cheesecake. This seemed to open the floodgates for the rest of my friends, who were apparently thinking along the same lines:

“A piece of cake won’t kill you!” 

“Look at you being all healthy and stuff.”

“Are you trying to show us up?”

“Don’t you want to have a good time with us?”

“You’re making us all look fat!”

“You used to be way more fun!”

The comments persisted. Other dessert plates were pushed toward me. More wine poured in my glass to help me “relax” and “enjoy myself for once.” I stood my ground, saying I felt full; but looking back, it’s hard to tell if I was really full or if the conversation had caused me to lose my appetite.

Health Shaming Is Real…and Impacts Motivation

My clients have told me how difficult it can be to make healthy choices when your family and loved ones don’t have similar nutrition and fitness goals, but I had never experienced that type of peer pressure or “health shaming” until this night.

Skinny shaming…fat shaminghealth shaming…how many of you have experienced something like this? How have you responded? How do you make healthy choices when you’re surrounded by people who don’t share your goals?

Related:

NIFS Registered Dietitian shares the top four app for healthier eating, download the quick read below to help you stay on track with your desired choices.  Be proud of your decision to make healthy choices!

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Topics: nutrition motivation NIFS restaurant healthy eating

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

Get Rid of Excuses and Find Time and Motivation to Exercise

ThinkstockPhotos-200554312-003.jpgWe have all made the excuse that we don’t have the time to exercise. If you have children, this excuse is even more likely. You have to get the kids ready in the morning, you work all day, you get off work, pick up the kids, and take them to their after-school activities. After that you’re finally getting home to cook dinner and relax with the family. Upon finishing dinner, it’s time to shower and go to bed. Now, I know that may feel like an exhausting day and that you have no time for yourself, but if you really look for it there is plenty of time to fit in some exercise.

Finding Small Ways for Staying Active 

Now is time to throw the excuses out the window. Exercising does not have to be a 30 or 60-minute workout. You can easily achieve your daily recommended exercise in small bouts of 10 minutes. One of the easiest ways you can achieve this is by parking in the back row at work rather than trying to drive around and find the closest spot possible. If you are one of those individuals, it’s time to switch up your routine.

Encouraging Exercise at Work

Leaders in the workforce can be great facilitators of physical activity. If you are a leader in your workplace, try making an effort to encourage your employees to move more. One great way to get your employees up and away from their desks is by having walking meetings.

Many individuals today are using activity trackers to help them stay on top of their movements. Friendly competitions within your workgroup are a great way to promote physical activity as well as boost company morale.

Finding Workout Motivation and Accountability

The key to becoming healthier is finding the physical activities that you enjoy doing most so that you will keep doing them. Using the buddy method is a great way to keep yourself accountable. If there are days you are feeling unmotivated to exercise, your friend, family member, or co-worker can be there to help encourage you along.  Set a schedule and stick to it.

Get the Help You Need to Stay Healthy

The biggest thing to take away is that there are endless ways that you can achieve your health and exercise goals. If you are struggling to find a way to fit exercise into your day, seek the help you need. Whether it’s downloading an app, getting a health coach, or simply learning which physical activities you need to be doing, the more you can get up and move, the better health benefits you will gain. So stop using those old, worn-out excuses and become a healthier you today!

Need tips for adding exercise to your worksite?  Click below to download our whitepaper for tips from NIFS. 

 

 

 

 

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Topics: exercise at work exercise motivation staying active accountability

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

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