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Tips_for_Starting_an_Exercise_Program_at_Your_BusinessEmployers are interested in helping their employees get and stay fit. Health is linked to employee engagement and happiness. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why employers would be interested in an office wellness program.

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One component you may want to consider for a new or existing wellness effort is an exercise program. Giving employees the opportunity to break for physical activity and get their workouts in is a great choice. Use these tips for starting an exercise program.

Ask Employees What They Want

Do your employees want to experience the meditative benefits of yoga in addition to getting their workout in? Or are they more interested in high-cardio activities like spin class or Zumba?

If you’re not sure, ask. While you may get a variety of answers back, you’ll probably see at least a few trends in the kinds of classes and activities employees like to participate in.

Offering exercise options people are actually interested in is key. If you start an exercise program with nothing but bootcamp and no one wants to participate, your exercise program won’t have a very far-reaching effect. Choose programs employees want, and watch attendance soar.

Offer Multiple Classes

If you offer one noon-hour class, your employees may feel constrained. Some people would much prefer to get their workout in first thing in the morning. Others prefer it at the end of the day. Some employees will try to hit the noon-hour class, but they may find they’re always running late thanks to meetings and deadlines.

Offering multiple classes will get you around this conundrum. You don’t need to offer a class every hour of the day. Choose popular times such as before work or after work, along with the lunch hour.

Try to offer multiple options for activities. The more diverse your program, the more success you’ll have getting everyone participating.

Hire Qualified Instructors

You may be tempted to have one of your employees lead your noon-hour yoga class. After all, they’ve been practising for years. The same might go for any class you decide to offer. Most specialized exercise instructors, however, have training. Zumba, for example, certifies their instructors. Training is important for yoga teachers too, as it’s easy for participants to hurt themselves.

Look for a qualified instructor to lead your classes. You’ll reduce the risk of employees injuring themselves and instead send them on their way to better health.

Sign Waivers

There is a liability factor if an employee hurts themselves on your property, during work hours, and if they injure themselves during strenuous exercise. Ask employees to carefully read and sign appropriate waiver forms. Employees with known conditions should be advised about which classes are most appropriate for them and which ones may not be.

You may wish to have employees pass a physical before they participate in very strenuous exercise. Employees who may not have disclosed health conditions should do so. Make sure you have policies in place to protect their right to privacy.

Dedicate Space

Make sure you have room in the workspace to run your exercise program. If at all possible, set aside a separate space as a “gym.” You may even want to invest in some equipment for employees to use outside of class hours.

If this isn’t possible, see if there’s a way you can create a dedicated space for your exercise program. Is there an empty office on the next floor or a space for lease in the strip mall across the way? The closer to work the space is, the more accessible it is for employees. This makes them more likely to go.

If this isn’t feasible, talk to a local gym and see if you can work out a deal. Setting up an exercise program doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive, but it should be beneficial.

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Lisa Curic

Lisa brings almost 30 years of experience to her role as the executive vice president at GroupQuest Benefits Resources Inc. She has worked for several different insurance businesses and co-founded a group benefits MGA in 2006. Lisa’s dedication and hard work has played a significant role in growing GroupQuest from two to over 40 employees in less than 10 years, and in making it one of the largest group benefit MGAs in Canada. Outside of her busy work schedule, Lisa enjoys reading, travelling, working out, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two children.

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