The majority of Americans are not club members, but the majority of Americans do work. And therein lies an opportunity for fitness professionals and clubs of all sizes looking to grow their revenue streams: corporate wellness programming.
It’s a fast-growing area. Employers across the board are increasingly realizing the healthier their employees, the fewer the sick days and the lower the health care costs; and the higher the productivity and the greater the morale. A 2012 study, for example, found “participants in workplace health promotion programs had about 25 percent lower medical and absenteeism expenditures than non-participants.”
A 2015 Johns Hopkins School of Public Health report found: “Scientific studies show that when done right, workplace health promotion and disease prevention programs can improve the health of employees, reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity and produce a positive return-on-investment.”
The key words in the Hopkins’ study are “when done right.” What employers know, or quickly learn, is traditional corporate wellness programming — classically offering a discount off a local gym membership — doesn’t do the trick. That usually appeals largely to the people who would join a gym anyway, while missing the target on those who most need the programming.
Holding classes on-site is a step up, but just a first step. The challenge is you’re reliant on people being free and on-site at the scheduled time. If their meetings are running late, they’re at a remote location, they’re traveling for work, or they have family commitments to get to, they won’t join. Nor will people join if that’s not the type of workout they like, or if it doesn’t cater to their fitness level. And — critically — you’re reliant on people being comfortable working out in front of coworkers.
Many aren’t comfortable putting on spandex in front of co-workers. And that’s especially true for those dealing with health challenges like obesity or depression. But they’re the people the company most wants — and needs — to feel included. Every fitness professional has heard people say, “I’ll come to class when I get in shape.” People are even more self-conscious in front of co-workers.
To stand out above others, clubs and fitness professionals need to show they understand the limitations of traditional corporate wellness programming. Companies quickly learn what does and doesn’t work. One way to include more people is by creating goals and challenges that allow employees to participate on their own, and offering literature that lets people workout at home and get comfortable with exercise routines.
Even better is to enable people to participate virtually as well — so employees can access actual classes in private when it’s convenient for them. Once employees get over the intimidation factor, they’ll be comfortable coming in-person. In that vein, make sure your online classes show real people, of all ages and fitness levels. While gym literature classically shows sculpted bodies, corporate wellness should be focused on inclusion and happy employees.
Once you know what you’re going to offer, and how your programming will reach the majority of employees — how do you start finding corporate clients? That’s easier than you might think. Most people who already come to your club and train with you; or the people you know, and their friends and family members, work at different companies. Ask them who handles their wellness initiatives and ask for introductions. Companies are looking for solutions; just show them you have the answers.
Daniel Freedman is the Co-CEO of BurnAlong, an online fitness and wellness platform that partners with local gyms, studios and wellness professionals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or burnalong.com.