| Nov 10, 2022

To Reap Full Benefits of Employee Fitness Programs, Do It Right

Staff are more likely to stick with their health goals — and bring the benefits back to the company — if they are assisted by on-site personal coaches.

To stay competitive in a worker’s job market, companies are upping the ante on incentives — from unlimited PTO to cash for a fun date. But fitness incentives that ensure results can attract people eager for wellness, make them healthier and improve their ability to contribute to the company.

Fitness programs offering gym memberships are a great start. People did become more sedentary during the pandemic, and are starting to express increasing desire for fitness to play a bigger role in their lives. A regular fitness routine will improve physical and mental health, as well as lower risks for heart disease, anxiety and depression. But not everyone will hit the gym without proper motivation. 

Draw and keep healthy employees with fitness benefits, but make the most of these incentives with personal training. 

The Benefits of Fitness and Personal Training

Regular exercise improves concentration, creativity, and memory, as well as prolonging mental endurance and reducing stress. Only a 10% reduction in non-lean body mass significantly reduces the risk of chronic disease. Fitness also improves mental health, energy, and mood. But starting a routine is often easier said than done. Half of new gym members will cancel membership after only six months, and less than half of Americans are getting enough exercise.

Here’s the good news: People who feel supported in their fitness are more likely to pursue it. In a recent OptumHealth survey, three-quarters of respondents said the availability of a gym or exercise program at work would increase their productivity. Workers at companies promoting a healthy culture were less likely to name stress as a barrier to achieving a healthier lifestyle. 

Personal trainers add even more value to company fitness programs, and employees aren’t the only ones to benefit from their services. According to Laura Karkura, director of health and wellness for OptumHealth, health initiatives (including wellness coaches) at a large financial services company resulted in health behavior improvements, productivity increases, and lower health care costs. Employees in the survey cited interactive coaching programs as among the most helpful programs in becoming healthier. 

Getting better at anything is easier with a coach, which is why major corporations like Cox Enterprises offer free fitness membership packages that include personal trainers. The Gates Foundation’s on-site fitness center is staffed with personal trainers for its employees. Just like business coaching helps professionals set career goals, remove barriers to achieving them, and draw out their best self in the process, personal training helps make identifying, setting, and achieving fitness goals more sustainable. 


Personal Training Brings More to the Table

The job of a personal trainer is to support an individual in achieving their fitness goals. According to Len Kravitz PhD, program coordinator of exercise science and researcher at the University of New Mexico, self-efficacy is a primary psychological indicator driving adherence to exercise. “[T]he influence of the exercise professional in empowering clients to ‘succeed with exercise’ is vitally important” to maintaining that adherence and self-efficacy, he says. 

In one study on the effectiveness of personal training on changing behavior, 57% of participants showed upward movement in a scale measuring an individual’s willingness and readiness for change from precontemplation to maintenance. That figure rose to 73% when factoring out participants already at the highest stage. 

A student research project found that women who hired a personal trainer experienced an increase in self-efficacy, particularly through identifying and celebrating mastery experiences. Their confidence in exercise and workout knowledge grew, along with their ability to maintain health goals. 

Personal training builds self-efficacy, which drives our commitment to fitness, but that self-efficacy also benefits our professional lives. An employee’s belief in their abilities will help them perform stronger at work, manage stress, and avoid burnout. With higher self-efficacy, employees set higher goals, learn to improve their skills, and persist with confidence in their ability to achieve.

From My Experience …

I started running at five years old and exercise had always been a part of my life, but when I began studying for certification as a personal trainer, I realized how much I still had to learn about fitness. Before I had my own clients, I put myself through the full course load — from balance and stability to power. In the process, I developed other skills that have also helped me in my career: 

  • Prioritizing what I want to get done: I learned how to assign high value to my fitness goals, making them important enough to stick with and achieve. In the process, I learned how to better manage hectic schedules, assign significance to healthy and productive habits and prioritize them in my day, no matter what. And I still always have time for fitness.
  • Dedication: In studies, exercise boosted self-control and self-restraint. Committing to a regular practice of exercise builds our sense of satisfaction with the delayed gratification that comes from long-term goal investment. As we feel more in control of setting hard goals and achieving them, it becomes easy to believe that we can have the same effect anywhere else.
  • Challenging myself to do more: As my personal training certification took me through all the stages of fitness, I started resistance training. I felt the benefits of progressive overload and muscle growth in my everyday movement; I was burning fat a lot faster and feeling strong. I never planned on getting into lifting weights, but now I want to push the limits of what I can do. That same growth mindset has spread into my career, pushing the limits of where I want to take it. 

Customizing Fitness Means No One Misses Out

From top executives to elite athletes, people hire experts to coach them through their experiences effectively. Richard Branson believes that working with a personal trainer not only strengthens his physical body but also drives the success of his business. He credits his business acumen, personal happiness, and productivity to his fitness, which he has built up through personal training. 

But the fitness solutions that work for Branson won’t work for everyone because fitness isn’t one-size-fits-all. With personal training in employee fitness programs, people are more likely to bring benefits back to the company.

Graceann Barrett
Graceann Barrett
Executive Author

Executive Writer, Massive Alliance

Graceann is Executive Writer at Massive Alliance, a published author, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach covering topics where health, wellness, and business intersect. view profile


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