Workplace Wellness

Today, I had the privilege of attending two sessions in the corporate fitness and wellness track. The first was “Fit Business Solutions: Enhancing Current Wellness Program” and was given by Susan Liebenow with L&T Fitness, and Robyn VanDerLuit and Cheryl Ridall with Club One. I actually stumbled into this one by accident, as I thought 194a was the same as 194b (duh), but I'm glad I did. With obesity rates rising, health insurance costs skyrocketing and the economy not doing so great, it was good to hear about ways (and by that, I mean what fitness professionals are doing) that companies can invest in fitness as a way to keep their employees healthy and productive. By showing company executives directly how fitness programs can help their bottom line, fitness professionals have a huge market that they can tap. It's a win-win.

However, the presentation stressed that in order for a corporate fitness program to work, it must be supported, show measurable results (lower rates of absenteeism along with improved health markers) and have a culture that supports it. One example that Sue gave was a club that created “energy breaks” for its employees to work out. “Energy breaks.” How brilliant of a name is that? Corporate fitness centers should also go beyond the individual employee and target families, Sue said, because many health care costs come from dependants. Finally, corporate fitness programs can't be one-size-fits all. Robyn and Cheryl suggested starting a variety of programs with different goals that are customized to the level of exerciser. That seems like a no-brainer, but I'm amazed by the number of clubs who don't personalize their programs.

The second seminar I sat in on today was titled “Unique Concepts in Wellness Education within a Corporate Environment” by corporate wellness consultant Paul Christopher. Paul was a great speaker and led an informative and interactive session. As a semi-pro volleyball player, it was obvious that the practices what he preaches, too. Paul shared with the group of attendees current research that shows that incentives help people to lose weight in a corporate fitness environment. Incentives include cash, added vacation time and health insurance refunds. (Sure does sound good to me!) He also included the eye-opening fact that 80 percent of a company's health care costs usually are caused by only 20 percent of its insured.

In order to get that 20 percent at a healthy weight, eating right and exercising, Paul said that they have to be educated on health. By using the three basic principles for creative teaching—maximize every possible learning pathway (audibly, visually and tacitly), simplifying and allowing people to experience the product/exercise/information, he says that fitness professionals can change lives and improve their company's bottom line and ROI. What was fun to see was how Paul used all of those teaching principles in his presentation. And it worked; I learned a lot!

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