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Workplace health creates new opportunities for clubs
Something is happening in office blocks, retail centres, warehouses and factories around the world that is opening up huge opportunities for the fitness industry. Employers everywhere are investing in their employees’ health and wellbeing, and clubs and trainers are getting in on the act.
In our latest blog on the fitness trends for 2016 identified in the annual survey by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), we are turning to number 12: ‘worksite health promotion’. We examine why employers are turning to fitness professionals, and the opportunities it is creating for our industry.
WHY ARE EMPLOYERS INVESTING IN HEALTH PROMOTION PROGRAMMES?
More and more employers – in the private and public sectors – are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of their employees. They are investing in programmes because they know that they face huge costs when employees are unwell. From drops in productivity to absence from work, poor health hits the bottom line.
As well as tackling sickness absence, evidence suggests that exercising during the day makes people productive. In fact, a study by British researchers found that workers who spent 30–60 minutes at lunch exercising reported an average performance boost of 15 percent.
Many organisations also see the addition of wellbeing programmes as a way to position themselves as an ‘employer of choice’. In some sectors, competition for talented employees is fierce, and anything that can attract and retain the best candidates is worth the investment.
And it’s not just employers who are getting interested in this trend. Governments and other not-for-profit bodies are also promoting the value of workplace-based programmes. The World Health Organisation has prioritised the workplace as a setting for health promotion, and the Luxembourg Declaration on Workplace Promotion in the European Union called for employers to promote active participation in programmes.
HOW MUCH IS HAPPENING?
According to 2014 research reported by Science Daily, health promotion programmes are offered by up to 75% of employers in Europe and the US. However, a high proportion (50-75%) of eligible workers do not participate. One of the reasons for this nonparticipation is that some people feel their employer is not fully committed to the programme. Another is that some people simply don’t want to make lifestyle changes.
Surely the involvement of qualified fitness professionals can address both of these issues. An employer who partners with local health clubs, gyms or trainers is signalling its commitment to the programme. And talented, educated and enthusiastic trainers can help people to see how lifestyle changes can bring huge benefits – and that they are achievable, too.
THE ROLE OF EXERCISE AND THE FITNESS INDUSTRY
A comprehensive workplace health promotion programme isn’t just about exercise, and might embrace everything from influenza vaccinations and diabetes prevention education to smoke-free policies. But the promotion of physical activity, including the provision of fitness facilities, does feature in many programmes.
The Community Preventive Services Task Force found that many programmes included training on how to use exercise equipment, health behaviour education and referrals to external health and fitness programmes. For all of these measures, most employers will need to bring in experts as they will not have the knowledge internally to deliver them.
So it’s clear that there is potential for health clubs and trainers to partner with local employers on the provision of fitness programmes and education to employees. One example is the way that leading UK retailer ASDA launched classes at its head office before and after work, catering for all fitness levels. ASDA lacked the physical space to run classes in its stores and distribution centres, and worked with local fitness clubs to obtain discounted rates for its employees.
Many employers have installed gyms in their buildings, often including showers and training rooms. Some organisations rely on volunteers from their workforce to run workouts, but others prefer to bring in external PTs, creating opportunities for our industry to build long-term relationships with employers and employees alike.
PORTABLE TOOLS FOR WORKPLACE TRAINING
For any personal trainer who creates the opportunity to run workouts in workplaces, one of the requirements will be for training tools that are portable. Unless the employer maintains a well-equipped gym, the PT will need to bring some equipment with them.
Here’s our quick guide to some of the training tools from the Escape range that are ideally suited to workplace workouts:
Foam rollers - great for warm-ups and stress-relieving workouts. Escape has a range of foam rollers, from especially soft ones to firmer ones for more experienced users. Thanks to a range of materials that are not only durable but also incredibly easy to clean, they are also very hygienic.
Core Momentum Trainer (CMT) - fun, versatile and effective. The CMT achieves core and movement development all-in-one. Each CMT comes with its own carrying bag, so it’s especially suitable for PTs on the move.
Battle Bag - the ultimate in strength bag portability. The Battle Bag can be stored and carried around empty, and then you load its compartments with weight when it’s time to workout. Sand, gravel, even water bottles: just about anything can add weight up to a maximum of about 26kg.
RISER - a small platform that has big performance for step workouts. It may be just 43cm / 17 inches across, but the RISER has the facilities you need for step classes, from beginner moves to high-intensity challenges.
Jump Ropes - the pocket-sized training classic. Escape gave the jump rope a makeover last year, introducing three models that between them meet every user’s need for warm-up, circuits and HIIT training.
ARE YOU HEADED FOR THE WORKPLACE?
If you are a club manager or trainer who wants to equip yourself for workplace training programmes, talk to Escape about how we can help. Contact our sales team to discuss your situation: email us at email@example.com, or call one of the numbers below:
UK: +44 (0)1733 313 535
USA: +1 (614)-706-4462
Germany: +49 (0)2921 590 10 70