Working a desk job is commonly associated with monotony. The idea is that you wake up each morning, show up to work, and go through the motions as you sit for hours. My schedule changes each day and I’m constantly moving around, which I personally love, so that sounds pretty awful to me. Luckily most corporations have started implementing programs that have changed this, so working in an office setting doesn’t have to be a complete drag.
Corporate fitness, or schedules and programs that promote physical activity in the workplace, are implemented by an employer as an incentive for employee recruitment and retention. The employer has several goals in providing health and fitness options for employees and may approach the fitness programming in a number of ways, which we’ll get to later. By equipping employees with space and tools needed to engage in and maintain an active lifestyle, employers hope to increase the amount of physical activity that employees get.
More physical activity outside of scheduled work hours means employees are less likely to call off from work, more likely to be stress-free, and will be more productive than the sedentary worker. Because physical inactivity is heavily correlated with the risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease and cancer, employers have realized that the benefits of corporate fitness programming stretch way deeper than surface level. By providing a vehicle for better health and fitness practices, companies are able to lower health care costs, decrease sick days, and retain employees for longer.
Now, I may have made it seem like Corporate fitness only exists inside office spaces, but I happen to know first hand that corporations stretch these benefits to retail, grocery, manual labor, hospitality and food service workers. Not too long ago, I was working for one of my favorite Grocery companies as a Crew Member. This just meansI did everything. Cashier, stocking the icebox, facing the groceries, samples, you name it! This job required long hours of standing and a lot of physical labor, but it also came with medical benefits, dental benefits, and a free membership to a gym of my choice. We even had on-site (voluntary) health screenings. Needless to say, I took advantage of all of this and signed up as soon as I could!
Each company that participates in the corporate wellness trend will implement different programming. Some companies install fully equipped gyms, some host fitness challenges, others may just schedule short “movement breaks” for stretching and walking. Companies looking to see the best results (higher employee retention, less sick leave, lower disability insurance costs and a decrease in workers compensation), often integrate wellness into their structure.
Companies that support wellness initiatives through benefits, workplace safety, and an overall health-conscious work environment tend to see the most success with their programs. Having on-site health screenings, although controversial, actually has a tremendous impact on the success of health and fitness programs in the workplace. These screenings can be the bridge between workers and the action plans they need, because the truth is, we sometimes go through life unaware of our health needs.
There are plenty of ways corporations implement health and fitness programming, the following being some of the most common.
Flexible schedules that allow employees more time to exercise before, during, or after work
Onsite corporate fitness centers
Seminars and presentations about wellness and physical activity
Onsite health screenings
Onsite exercise classes and personal training
Discounted/Reimbursed/subsidized gym membership costs
Providing incentives for physical activity (contests and prizes)
If your place of work hasn’t hopped on the corporate fitness bandwagon, perhaps consider proposing something simple to start. A “Steps Challenge”, in which participants track their steps each day, would be a low-cost way to get the ball rolling. In the meantime, Busy Woman Wellness has some great ideas on cubicle movement that’ll help keep you active (and sane).
Jasmine Danielle is a Los Angeles based dancer and fitness trainer. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has studied with FiTour, the National Federation of Personal Trainers, and the Equinox Group Fitness Training Institute. Jasmine is currently a Group Fitness Instructor for Equinox, Everybody Los Angeles, and Sandbox Fitness. Her fitness modalities include ballet, dance cardio, barre fitness, TRX, treadmill interval training, cardio kickboxing, jump rope, indoor cycling, and metabolic conditioning.