I’ll start this post by saying, this is not a case study, but rather, a story about a leader of a local business with a vision for his employees. A vision that goes far beyond simply making the business grow, having a more profitable quarter or decreasing absenteeism. Mark Gibson, President of local IT firm “Netwise Resources”, was driving down a busy 86th street one sunny afternoon, when he noticed me and a colleague of mine, Jameson Brock of JB Performance, working out in front of the building. We caught his eye, but he already had it in his mind that he was going to invest in his business in a way many Presidents and/or CEOs would not: indirectly, into his employees. When you think of indirect investment into a business, think about the new corporate workplace, one filled with energy, activity, and visually stimulating mediums, all contributing to a happier and more productive workforce. Mark wanted to take a different approach, one where he could partner with a set of health and fitness professionals to help develop better movement, team building, and overall wellness for his employees. After stopping in and discussing with us his intentions and what exactly he was looking for, we settled on a plan for his company.
Needs of Desk Workers
The biggest point we wanted to drive home to Mark and his staff was that no matter what kind of workout plan we devised, education as to what a seated position did to your body throughout the course of an eight-hour workday was absolutely necessary. In a previous post, I explored this topic and how it relates to the evolution of exercise prescription: you can check that out -here- . I knew that the effort would be there, and hopefully, everyone would have fun, but all of the workouts in the world would still prove to be a band-aid for a metaphorical flesh wound that the desk chair was creating.
The Business of Prevention
Jameson and I started by implementing a series of foam rolling exercises prior to the start of each workout. Foam rolling is a form of self-myofascial release, or self-massage, designed to essentially take the parking brakes off the body before a productive workout. I guess I should use this opportunity to remind all of you of my book coming out in November, titled “Foam Rolling”, which will be for sale directly from me, on this website! I explained to Mark and employees Nick, Bryan, Matt, and Tyler, that foam rolling on a regular basis would be beneficial for both enhancing mobility and for minimizing the toll that a relatively sedentary career choice was taking on their bodies. Muscles tend to work, or not work, based on necessity. For example: if the muscles required for healthy stability and mobility in the spine and hips were underutilized every single day, then it makes sense that those muscles eventually would become comparatively inept at their collective job. Foam rolling prior to our workouts helped the guys maximize the potential benefits that some of the exercises were trying to elicit. Bryan runs, Mark and Matt golf, Nick enjoys evening walks, and Tyler partakes in watersports, and by working out regularly, they were all able to pursue their respective weekend warrior endeavors healthily and injury free.
After the essentials were covered at the beginning of each workout, it was time to get the heart rate up and sweat a little. Whether it was an NFL combine inspired ladder agility drill, or it was a hundred foot uphill treadmill walk, Jameson and I were both committed to providing both challenging and varying exercises from start to finish. For Mark and his employees, this was about creating a lifestyle change, and strategizing about what the best way to adhere to these changes would be. Not only were we going through well-rounded and varied workouts, but we were constantly exchanging dialogue on dietary habits, sleeping schedules, and plans to stay active outside of the gym. Throughout our dialogue, we were constantly challenging the guys to reach new levels of cardiovascular health, muscular endurance, mental toughness, and a teamwork mentality. Battle ropes, sled pushes, plank variations, and anything that would challenge those aforementioned underutilized muscles, were combined in any way possible to maximize physical demand while maintaining a fun and mentally stimulating atmosphere. Every workout ends with some sort of “finisher”, in which each guy must complete one task to relieve all other team members of a separate exercise. Just last week, we asked the entire team to hold a wall-sit while each guy pushed a sled 30 yards. Doing this in a safe and fun manner, allowed for a boost in accountability and comradery.
A Healthier, Happier, and More Productive Business
I’m not exactly sure he envisioned himself and his employees swinging sledgehammers or doing wind sprints back and forth across the parking lot, but after working with Mark and a few of his employees for a couple of months now, something has become abundantly clear, everyone is moving better, working better, and living better. Whether it was Nick losing a few pounds, Bryan being able to run miles upon miles free from pain, or Mark swinging a golf club without bothering his low back, there have been several benefits from this corporate wellness program that are easy to see, feel, and quantify. Perhaps more importantly, though, are the changes that aren’t measured in inches, weight, or repetitions. The mental state of Mark and his employees drastically changed for the better, and by creating a culture of mindful movement, clean eating, and positivity, Netwise Resources is a better company from the ground up. Without healthy and happy employees, production would eventually suffer, and that would ultimately affect the bottom line. Being the owner, CEO, or President of a profitable company, as Mark Gibson can attest, requires thinking outside the box and exploring different ways to increase production. Numerous corporate wellness programs exist out there, but many fall short in one critical component; active education through dialogue and participation. By developing a culture with Netwise Resources, we can expect an exponentially more profitable return on investment, both in the business and in the health of the employees.
Yours in Wellness,
Prevention over Treatment