How senior management can make exercise work for their organisation
Have you considered offering weekly fitness classes in your workplace as part of your organisation’s health and wellbeing strategy? It’s really easy to organise. You just need a meeting room or space in your office. Classes can be held during a lunch break, before or after-work. It’s low-cost and a simple way for staff to fit exercise into their working day.
I’ve taught Pilates and fitness classes for a range of businesses in all kinds of workspaces. I’ve seen the clear benefits for staff participating. But for businesses to really reap the benefits, there must be clear commitment from senior management.
Here are my 5 top tips to make it work for your organisation:
Join in When senior management call round the office and tell everyone class is about to start, this works really well. It’s a clear message from you that you’re committed to getting your team active and staff feel they can take the time away from their desks without judgement. It’s also of course great for team building and getting to know your staff.
Book it into diaries Set up a recurring calendar appointment. Perhaps one for 4.30pm the day before to ‘don’t forget your kit’! If staff aren’t actively encouraged to leave their desks they won’t always feel they can attend.
Promote Make sure staff are aware classes are available. Encourage new starters to join. Send out email reminders (especially after summer/Christmas holidays). This may seem obvious but sometimes organisation’s fail to do this. Just the other week someone new joined one of my workplace classes. They’d been with the company for years but had no idea classes were available until one of their colleagues mentioned they were going!
Provide mats and small equipment Show you’re making the initial investment – even if staff are funding the classes themselves. We can buy fitness mats at trade price so it won’t break your budget.
Subsidise Interestingly when companies provide the class for free, and don’t do any of the steps above, after a few weeks I sometimes see a drop-off in participants. When classes are subsidised, even with staff just making a small contribution (£1-£2 per session), I’ll have a full class each week. The marketers amongst you will know, if you offer something for free the perceived value can be low. So by both staff and company investing you still show your commitment, and staff value the class more by making their own contribution. This benefits both you; just a small investment required, likely to work out more cost-effective than gym subsidy. And for your staff; it’s a low-cost alternative to gyms, clubs or pay-as-you go classes.
And the additional benefits…
Besides the clear health and productivity benefits of getting your staff more physically active, consider too internal networking and relationship building opportunities. I see staff engaging with other colleagues they’ve not met before or don’t often work with. Often too I’ll hear staff chatting after class discussing and resolving issues from the day.
“We have lunchtime classes at our office. What a great way to vary the day and recharge for the afternoon. Pilates takes away the stress that builds up in our shoulders sitting down so much at the computer. It sets us up for the week”
“I can’t express strongly enough how good it is to be able to take 45 minutes out of a working week to do Pilates. Everyone knows sitting at a computer all day isn’t the best position to be in but we go back to our desks energised and ready to take on the next challenge.”
And I know it works… I’d never done much exercise before and first started practicing Pilates through classes held at my office in the basement with chairs pushed to the sides. I used to suffer from back pain and muscle tightness – sitting at a desk all day didn’t help. So the opportunity to get away from my desk, stretch and strengthen my muscles made a huge difference. I truly appreciated that my organisation offered classes, and it was one of the reasons I stayed working there for five years… until I left to become a fitness instructor, set up Exercise in the City and help get other workplaces active!
About Exercise in the City
Bringing fitness to you… so no excuses!
We’re passionate about getting London workplaces active and improving the health and wellbeing of your staff. We do this by making it easy – bringing Pilates and a range of fitness classes to you at your office. All you need is a free room or space. Classes can be held during a lunch break, before or after work. We have a team of fantastic instructors, all fully qualified and insured. We offer a choice of classes and can tailor all to suit your the space you have available and your staff’s fitness goals.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and book your first class today.