Are your on-site group fitness programs reaching ALL employees – even those in the back row?

Headshot100Savvy employers know that implementing an effective workplace wellness program goes beyond simply trying to reduce health care costs – it’s also about establishing a culture of health and engaging employees to adopt and sustain meaningful, long-term healthy lifestyle changes that drive increased employee productivity and overall wellbeing.

Employees spend most of their waking hours at their office, and research has shown that one of the keys to a successful wellness program is building a physical workspace that makes it as easy and convenient as possible for employees to make healthy choices. As a result, we’re seeing more employers offering on-site group fitness services as a way to encourage employees to engage in more physical activity, thus improving overall wellness and reducing health risks related to a sedentary lifestyle. That’s because group fitness works! It has something for everyone, and with dedication, perseverance and the support and guidance of a dedicated instructor, participants of all fitness levels can reap tremendous health and wellness benefits.

But how can employers ensure their on-site fitness program aligns with workplace culture and meets the needs of ALL employees – especially those who may feel intimidated or unsure about jumping into a group class? At Optum, we refer to these as our “back row” participants – the brave souls who overcome their nerves and inexperience to take the first-time plunge into a group fitness class.

The Optum team of group fitness experts applauds these newcomers and welcomes them with open arms. We know that one of the keys to a successful on-site fitness program is making those in the back row feel comfortable like they belong, even if it’s their very first class. That’s why we give as much time and attention to those in the back row as do give to those who stand out in front. Our staff is trained to work with and serve all participants, whatever their fitness level and goals, using a variety of adaptable exercises. We are proof that an experienced athlete and a fitness beginner can exercise together in the same space and motivate each other. Why not give it a try with your employees?

A participant in one of Grace’s classes recently said “I started taking her strength and cardio classes approximately two months after having bariatric surgery. When I first started training with Grace, I was morbidly obese, but she never made me feel uncomfortable in her class nor badly about my abilities even though my knees would barely allow me to do a squat. As a matter of fact, Grace never even seemed to notice my size. She treated me like any other client, but I later learned that she was quietly cheering me along while respecting my privacy as I shrunk away. I admire Grace’s abilities to perfectly mix professionalism and friendliness.”

At Optum, we take pride in reaching those in the back row by offering classes and programs that are unique and thoughtful. Our goal is to turn those neophytes into confident regular attendees, while also keeping the front row coming back again and again. With Optum’s group fitness team, there’s always room for one more!


About the Author:
Grace DeSimone, National Group Fitness Director for Optum

Grace DeSimone is National Group Fitness Director for Optum and was recently named this year’s distinguished recipient of the IDEA Program Director of the Year Award at the 2016 IDEA World Fitness Convention™ in Los Angeles, CA.

Each year, the IDEA Program Director Award recognizes an individual who is a healthy role model demonstrating keen professional commitment through community and industry involvement, and whose outstanding leadership or creativity inspires staff and influences both active and underactive people to commit to a healthy lifestyle through successful, creative and diverse programming.

Leave a Reply