Establishing a Corporate Fitness Culture

Time magazine ran a story a few years ago on “Mandatory Fitness” programs being implemented at various organizations around the world. According to the article, “… eighty four percent of Americans said that they’d get healthier … if (only) the boss insisted.”

So, at a few leading companies, the boss is now insisting: Verizon, Microsoft, and Dow Chemical, among others are now actually offering cash bonuses for loosing weight.

The Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) lab at Mayo Clinic developed a computer station atop a treadmill few years ago to get office workers more active within otherwise sedentary office roles. Office furniture maker Steelcasetm is manufacturing and marketing it commercially.  The Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal ran a story about Salo, LLC usage of them here in Minneapolis a few years back.

These somewhat far reaching efforts are in response to an increasingly troubling obesity epidemic that isn’t going to be easy to fix. I personally very strongly favor a Fat Tax on High Fat Content Foods, and passionately contend that Fitness Related Discrimination has long been practiced in hiring and promoting.

While cash based incentives for loosing weight, and office worker gerbil wheels could be great options for some organizations, …

I’m here to offer a few more options on how small businesses can get their organizations more fit! Not unexpectedly, corporate fitness is actually more culture than programming. As with all corporate cultures, it all starts from the top. If your leadership buys in and behaves accordingly, culture is created and nourished.

One of the more frequent excuses we get from clients is that they “don’t have time” to regularly exercise 3 or 4 days per week.

 Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re serious about your career, your business, your family, or your spouse, you simply CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO exercise regularly.

So, since the 1st step is getting the boss moving in the right direction,here are my Top 5 tips for Corporate Executives:

  1. Schedule exercise into your calendar, and don’t move it unless there’s a death in the family. Make your exercise appointment the most immutable appointment of the day.
  2. Be accountable to someone. It helps if you have a personal trainer waiting on (and charging) you for the appointment whether you show up or not, but it is also helpful to have a training buddy/partner. You’re much more likely to show up when you know someone is waiting for you.
  3. Establish, write down, and publish a very specific health lifestyle goal for the next 3 months. These are things like: exercise for 90 minutes 3 times per week; or walk for 60 minutes 6 days per week; or make every scheduled exercise appointment. Lifestyle Changes; nothing physical or exercise related.
  4. Establish, write down, and publicize a very specific, Non-Appearance related fitness goals for the next 6 weeks. While the body will certainly undergo composition changes with regular exercise, the initial 6 weeks should focus entirely on strength or endurance measurements: doubling your push ups; or completing 40 sit-ups within one minute; or completing a mile run in under 8 minutes. Don’t worry about the body weight or body fat at all just yet.
  5. Update your Corporate Values, Behaviors, and Ethics document to include the statement: Regular Exercise is a fundamental and necessary element of heath and happiness, and improves professional productivity.

Bonus Tip!  Ride your bike to Work this Month!  Talk about leadership!

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