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Workplace wellness? A quarter of office workers don’t exercise

As fit pros, we have to ask ourselves what will it take to help get professionals moving and achieve workplace wellness? Shall we wait until each office worker has a treadmill next to their desk? Or they are forced to perform star jumps between PowerPoint presentations? It would seem that, in 2018, office workers are still finding it incredibly challenging to ‘make time’ for exercise during their working week.

CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job site, conducted a workplace wellness survey with 1,200 office workers to determine how frequently they were exercising. It was reported that one third (31.6%) of professionals admitted to only exercising once or twice a week. What’s more, a worrying 24% confessed that they don’t exercise at all. More findings from the study revealed that 59.4% of professionals do try to exercise during the working week – 26.3% saying they worked out before work commenced – resulting in 91.3% ‘feeling more productive’ as a result. For the other 73.7% who leave exercise until after work, 88.2% say it helps them to unwind.

Yet, despite their good intentions, 39.2% admit they do struggle to fit in exercise before they start work. What’s more, 66.7% admit they sometimes have to skip their workout because they’ve had to stay late at the office. It’s therefore unsurprising that 66.6% of professionals wish they could exercise more throughout the working week.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said in response to the workplace wellness findings, “It’s clear that professionals are looking to their employers for support when it comes to making their work and lifestyle fit around one another. Although it might not always be possible to offer flexible hours or free gym memberships, it’s important you are doing all you can to support your workforce and take their well-being into consideration.”

Tap into the workplace wellness market

Education specialist and personal trainer Matt Gleed was keen to share his experiences of working with clients who may struggle to exercise around work commitments. Commenting on the above findings, Gleed said, “With just a little more thought, companies can really help create and inspire a better work-life balance that their employees are calling for. I previously led lunchtime and afternoon workouts at Nationwide Building Society, which allowed employees at their head office to work out throughout the working day, a great example of a company encouraging flexible working and a healthy lifestyle. In addition, having a gym at the office allowed many people to work out early or after work, so they missed the rush-hour traffic.”

When asked what companies could do more of to increase exercise and workplace wellness, Gleed added, “With bike-to-work schemes, standing desks and changing facilities in the office, companies have begun to make the changes necessary to support and encourage a more active workforce. However, more can be done. I’ve personally found clients have had success joining lunchtime clubs or forming company sports teams and leagues. I’m a big fan of getting people more active and linking that with health insurance or bonus-related rewards that many health providers are now happy to partner with. More trainers should approach the companies to see if they can support them, as everyone is better off in these situations.”

Personal trainer Holly Lynch offers some take- home advice for personal trainers who are looking to tap into this  market.

  1. Go into workplaces: run group sessions in the office
  2. Offer discounts: if 3 or more people from the same workplace come to a class or book personal training, this helps to motivate and encourage team work. Clients can group together in a joint fitness venture with their colleagues.
  3. Offer at-home versions:  devise sessions that have no kit requirements; encourage clients to use the space they have available and their own bodyweight.
  4. Offer half- hour sessions in addition to full hour slots for the time precious clients.
  5. Offer health check days to a workplace: it is in the best interest of companies to reduce sickness absences. Test an individual’s blood pressure, weight, body fat percentage – simple and quick tests that let them know how they compare to national averages. Knowledge is power;  knowing the facts can help encourage people make better lifestyle decisions. For everyone who checks in with you, they will receive a ‘free try out pass’ to your class/facility so  that they can start working on their results straight away.


Lynch concludes, “As a trainer, I feel it’s about showing compassion for the fact that these people are professionals with responsibilities and a busy life; overwhelming them with a highly detailed and time- consuming workout programme is probably not the best move. The commitment and drive that clients have for their job are clear personality traits; that can be directly transferable to the gym or studio. I often find that career- driven clients are ‘target and deadline driven’, I therefore try to incorporate this into the training methods I use with them.”

Workplace wellness in action

  • Zappos

Online retailer Zappos is said to be well-known for its workplace wellness programme and offers gym memberships, fitness classes, nap rooms and marathon reimbursements. One of the newer wellness initiatives at Zappos is to take employees off-site to experience something fun away from their desks, such as an hour-long golf lesson, laser tag or trampolining.  Every Tuesday, the company brings out playground toys and sees what happens. People will come outside, “shoot some hoops” and play volleyball.

  • Draper, Inc

Voted the healthiest place to work in the United States in 2014 by Healthiest Employers LLC, this Indiana-based company is said to pride itself on giving employees the tools they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Throwing it back to 2008, Draper reportedly opened a wellness park at the edge of its property, which included a one-fifth-mile track, workout stations, table tennis courts and volleyball courts. Linda Brinson, the wellness co-ordinator, is said to collate a monthly newsletter featuring wellness superheroes, who are named by their peers for modelling healthy behaviours in the workplace. Draper also hosts walking competitions and Zumba classes.

Where next? Check out  What’s in your cupboard .