Is your workplace wellbeing strategy affected when gyms are fit to burst?

busy gyms affecting employee strategy

Around this time of year there is a traditional spike in gym attendance across the leisure industry. From September (and the start of the new school year) up to November (when the festive season starts to take its toll) some gyms, health clubs and fitness studios see a rise in attendance. There’s a dip across Christmas, then it really gets busy. How might this affect your workplace wellbeing strategy for the whole year?

Workplace wellbeing strategy advice when the fitness class is full

Well, for one, staff members who already don’t enjoy the gym, will be even less likely to make these destinations a priority. And for those more regular gym-goers forced to fight for a treadmill , exercising is supposed to reduce stress, not increase it!

Outdoor exercise is an obvious alternative. Brisk walking, running, outdoor personal training sessions or circuit classes, trim trails or (for the very adventurous) an open water swim!

This may have been an easier option for your staff in the spring/summer. But how can you overcome the problems of the winter season? Short daylight hours, cold weather and the approaching festive season will make demands on your staff’s time.

Below are 4 tips we’ve put together for managers tasked with promoting movement/fitness as part of their wellbeing strategy. When the gyms are fit to bursting, hopefully, then, your annual wellbeing KPI’s won’t catch a dose of winter flu.

Tackle winter climate head on

Darkness, cold weather and slippery conditions underfoot will put off many a fair-weather runner. The remedy here is preparation and mindset.

Keep staff informed on appropriate training clothing and gear. This keeps them comfortable, protected and perhaps more inclined to exercise. For sheer toughness, Muddy Plimsolls always recommends corporate clients consider outdoor brands that specialise in hiking/mountaineering. These brands tend to be tested in more extreme conditions than regular sports gear. Base layer, mid layer and outer layer are the focus for  dressing appropriately. Staff could treat themselves to a new rain jacket or fleece or waterproof trainers.

As for the mindset, think creatively. A before-work exercise session may catch the sunrise. The local park can be a deserted oasis and all yours for an hour. And never admit that it’s raining.

Have a plan

Effective exercise always has a plan. When the outside conditions aren’t optimal, it’s a strong focus on a plan that will carry outside exercisers through.

Training programmes will be affected by the weather.  It’s impractical and sometimes dangerous to lay down a yoga mat on sodden grass for core exercises. Neither should you be sprint training when conditions are icy. For example, Muddy Plimsolls’ outdoor winter training moves to more of an on-your-feet approach to core training from autumn onwards.

Build a challenge

A training-in-the-rain selfie competition might do it for your staff. Plot walking (or running) routes for lunchtime walking challenges and make sure to include local destinations that take in hills or steps. A photo at the end destination, then turn back to the office.

Weight loss is always a popular one. At this time of year, Muddy Plimsolls focusses on pre-Xmas prep. It’s nice to go into the festive season a little trimmer than before. Plus training at this time of year paves the way for clients to embrace a return to training in January.

Reward and recognise

Workplace wellbeing strategies should include rewards and/or recognition for staff. Either for achieving individual goals or contributing to a wellbeing campaign. For example, vouchers for new training gear (see our gear suggestion above) are great and can be leveraged in positive mentions in a staff newsletter, intranet or social media forum. We’ve also recommended awarding a challenge cup. Budget, tiny trophies that can sit well on desks can be a source of pride –  think the Ashes trophy!

3 key approaches to improving take-up of employee wellbeing initiatives

If you’re an HR professional charged with improving employee wellbeing in a measurable way, complete our enquiry form and we’ll give you a call to discuss how we can help.

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