The whole idea with creating a wellness program within a corporation is to help employees’ live healthier lives both at work and home which in turn leads to better and more efficient productivity for the company. It’s supposed to reduce the number of doctor visits by employees, the number of missed days from sickness, and an eventual savings on health care cost for the company. In theory, this is exactly what wellness programs are supposed to do but in fact most fall short because they are missing two very key things; correct exercise education and individualized exercise programs. Why are these two essential variables missing in most wellness programs…because they are two of the most common things missing in all of fitness, both at and away from work. Let’s take a close look at each of these as well as my way to right the ship.
Incorrect Exercise Education – To show you how widespread and common incorrect exercise is, you and I could walk into any gym, wellness center, boot camp, or exercise class and we’re going to see at least 90% of the exercises being done incorrectly and in very damaging ways. The thing is, it doesn’t look incorrect because so many people are doing it the same way and it’s being taught that way. I’ve said this before and I’m going to say it a thousand more times: Exercise does not equal health and in the many ways it’s being done today, health is definitely not what you’re going to get.
Solution – Corporate wellness programs have to start making sure that their instructors are teaching correct ways to exercise. Believe me; there are many instructors and trainers teaching very unhealthy ways to exercise outside of corporate wellness and I guarantee you it’s just as common within wellness programs. To get wellness programs back on their feet, instructors have to be teaching correct form and technique, teaching correct exercise frequencies and durations, and teaching those who have joint and mobility problems correct ways to exercise to avoid further damage and pain. If you want to know what healthy exercise looks like, have me come out to your company and I’ll show you first hand. Now, once you educate everyone on what it looks and feels like to exercise correctly and in healthy ways, you have to avoid making another big mistake in wellness; generalizing exercise.
Generalizing Exercise – If you want to have a successful wellness program for all employees, giving them generalized exercise programs isn’t going to cut it. We are all different in our abilities, needs, goals, and preferences and our exercise programs should be varied from one individual to the next to accommodate these differences. Applying the same exercise principles to all employees is a big mistake, and will actually cause many people to not want to exercise. The good news is…it’s an easy fix.
Solution – There are two things that need to be done to individualize exercise for all employees. First, each employee should spend 10-15 minutes with a qualified exercise instructor (be careful here and remember #1 above) to go over their abilities, needs, goals, and exercise preferences. Once this is done, the instructor can advise them to do a certain program and specific exercises to fit all of their needs. Secondly, some employees aren’t comfortable exercising at work or around other people so they need a program they can do away from work or at home. There are many options for home exercise programs and an instructor can either recommend a popular program or design one for the employee. Lastly, employees with joint pain, back pain, and other health issues don’t want to work out because it causes more pain when they do it. An employee can be taught how to exercise without pain but it has to be a very specific program and it has to be designed by a qualified exercise professional.
Wellness programs have great intentions but many fall short because they miss two of the biggest variables that make exercise truly fit. Most programs lack qualified instructors to teach correct, functional, and safe exercise means and methods. Wellness programs also make the mistake of generalizing exercise for all employees which leaves many employees not exercising like they should for their needs, and it leaves many out who have pain and other health issues causing them to not want to exercise. That doesn’t sound very fit to me. On the outside many wellness programs look healthy, but on the inside, they are far from being well. And isn’t true health on the inside?