When I first started at the school I currently work at ten years ago, I did not exercise. I wish I could say it was because of some noble reason, but the truth is I was young, not far out of my master’s degree, and entering the working world was stressful. I wanted to be good at my job, so I focused on doing everything I could to get ahead at my first jobs out of grad school. This meant late nights grading and planning and early mornings in my office, which also meant eating tons of fast food and pre-packaged foods.
However, I realized one my first day of new staff orientation that my current school really emphasized fitness. In fact, fitness is one of our pillars. As I sat in orientation, I realized I was sitting not only among marathoners, triathletes, and former professional athletes, but I was also sitting among people my age (or younger) who seemed to have their health all figured out. I felt like an outsider to a certain degree, and I hated that feeling. I desperately wanted to fit in and make friends, so I took a stab at working out, which eventually led to me creating goals around things like completing my first half marathon. I crossed that finish line in 2016, and I can say without a doubt that it never would have happened if not for the positive fitness culture at my school.
I am proud of many of the fitness goals I have reached since starting at my current school and deeply value the friendships I have made, but none of that would have been possible without the help of a work environment that emphasizes and encourages health and fitness. I would have easily given up many times over because the truth was I still spend the majority of my time at work, as most young working professionals do, so the culture of my environment mattered a lot in terms of keeping me on track.
So why are companies on board with creating a culture of fitness? There are many reasons why companies would want their employees to be physically and mentally well. Like the school I work for, many employers have noted the clear benefits of promoting a healthy fitness environment in the workplace. Many employers have jumped on the fitness bandwagon and are now offering health and fitness classes during the work day as a way to jumpstart their employees on a path of healthy living.
Let’s dive into some of the most common and impactful reasons for the upward trend in workplace fitness.
Fitness encourages teamwork. If you were on a competitive sports or arts team in school, you understand how healthy competition positively impacts your life as a whole. You learn just as much from the wins as the losses, and what’s more is you learn clear, consistent communication in the process. All key skills in the workplace.
When employers offer free workout classes to their employees, their employees experience the adrenaline rush of competing while working with others to accomplish a goal, and as a side benefit, also accomplishing some of their own health and fitness goals. It’s a true win-win. For the employer, teamwork leads to higher productivity in the workplace and an environment where employees implicitly and explicitly encourage one another to tackle tough problems. For the individual, they get to use time usually allocated to working to accomplish their personal goals, which feels like teamwork with the employer in another sense. They also get to create new bonds with coworkers that they would have otherwise missed out on, leading to longevity in the company.
One of the hardest parts about the workplace is the stress that comes with the projects and other work you are doing to maintain your career or get ahead. Stress leads to a higher likelihood of getting sick and calling off, which, if you’re in a high pressure environment, such as a teacher like me, creates even more stress, and so the cycle continues. One of the top ways to gain and maintain employees is to offer a lower stress environment, which regular fitness can aid with.
Fitness opportunities in the workplace can vary, but they largely focus on relieving stress. Some workplaces offer high intensity workouts, like boxing classes or HIIT workouts, and others offer low intensity ones, like yoga or rowing. Yoga is a great way for companies to encourage health and fitness while also simultaneously reducing stress. Regularly offering employees the opportunity to do yoga lowers their stress level while also creating a positive association with work as a place that you can feel both productive and relaxed. The less stressed employees feel coming into work, the more productive they will be, which also makes them feel more positively about work. Again, this is a win-win for employee and employer!
Positive Feedback Loop
According to biologydictionary.net, a positive feedback loop “is a process in which the end products of an action cause more of that action to occur in a feedback loop.” This bilogical concept can easily be applied to fitness in the workplace.
A final benefit of fitness in the workplace is the positive feedback loop that is created. By creating an environment where it is clear the employer cares about the employee beyond what they can produce in one day, they create a positive feedback loop. The more the employer feeds into the employees well being, the more positively the employee will feel about the company they work for, which will then lead to fewer sick days and higher productivity and morale. The feeling of positivity associated with work will make employees want to continue coming to work each day. Another win-win!
Whatever the reason your employer offers fitness classes, I would highly encourage you to take advantage! As you can see, the benefits are enormous.
Wanna know how to stay motivated while exercising? Have a look at this blog post!
Wanna give your employees a great experience at no cost? We are now offering a FREE YOGA CLASS for companies in San Francisco! Drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call: +1(717) 5282 339 Hurry! Limited-time opportunity!