The Rise of Corporate Fitness

Eamonn Curley
24 September 19
10 min read

Corporate fitness has become the cornerstone of the American workplace in recent years. And it’s easy to see why –  it both saves money and improves the overall performance of employees. The reality is that the health and well being of the people in a business is paramount to its success. 

Harvard Business School recently published a report that said how US companies are saving $3.27 for every one dollar spent on a corporate wellness program. That’s the money-saving aspect of it. On the performance side, another recent report showed a noticeable increase in employee productivity and stress reduction in several companies when fitness and wellness programs were introduced. 

Worksite wellness is fast becoming an integral part of what drives a companies success. In this article, we will chart the rise of corporate fitness, the benefits it can bring to a business and ideas your gym could implement into a businesses corporate fitness strategy. 

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The History of Corporate Fitness

Do you know what the first recognized corporate wellness program was?  

In 1979 American pharmaceutical and medical device company Johson and Johson began it’s Live for Life program. This initiative aimed to control risk behaviors relating to stress, weight control, and nutrition. Assessments were carried out to figure out each person’s activity levels, and individual employee programs were created. While there were versions of employee fitness programs in previous years, Live for Life is seen as the blueprint for the modern wellness programs in today’s corporate America.  

Over the next number of years, medium to large size corporations began to implement similar types of fitness and wellness programs. They designed these programs to:

  • teach and raise awareness regarding health and fitness
  • provide services such as on-site medical assistance 
  • change the working environment to suit a healthier lifestyle

The most recent major health legislation in the US, The Affordable Care Act, had provisions in it to incentivize businesses to provide corporate wellness programs to their employees. Under the act, companies would use incentive programs to motivate employees to reach the fitness goals set out for them.

Today tech giants like Google, Apple, and Linkedin emphasize wellness. Walk inside one of their many offices around the world, and you will find wellness services available for the employees. For employees who want to reach their fitness goals, some on-site personal trainers and instructors run group fitness classes.

Benefits of Corporate Fitness

By incorporating fitness activities like fitness and exercise sessions in groups, companies can keep things fresh.  There is no secret that exercising has several benefits, especially when done outdoors. Even a twenty-minute workout can rejuvenate your lungs, sharpen your mind and energize your body. All of these things combine to lift a person’s mood. He or she works with more efficiency. Apply this efficiency to all employees, and you will notice that a company will start running like a well-oiled machine that always produces excellent results.  

Let us have a more in-depth look at the benefits of corporate fitness below. 

Reduced Stress

The right corporate wellness programs make sure they teach employees different methods to feel good during their jobs. This not only reduces physical stress, but it reduces mental stress as well. Most employees these days work in front of their computer screens. Their arms, wrist, back, and neck are not only stressed but fatigued as well. Additionally, several employees complain of having eyestrain because of their exposure to screens for most of the day. 

Corporate fitness programs of this century offer exercises for workers who are bound to their desks. They receive proper stress-reducing instructions like stretching exercises and workouts for reducing monotony. Exercise has relaxing and exhilarating properties. It is excellent for dissipating stress and countering depression. There have even been clinical results to back up the fact that exercise promotes better sleep. It also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Healthcare Costs Lowered

There is no doubt that healthy employees are a more significant asset for businesses than unhealthy employees. Research by the University of Michigan suggested that employers can potentially save $1100 per year on average if they focus on fitness and $1200 if their cholesterol is in check. A business can save $1177 for every worker who is not obese.  Experts in the healthcare industry have estimated that somewhere between seventy to ninety percent healthcare expenditure is a result of poor lifestyle choices. These problems usually cause chronic diseases, which are expensive to treat. American businesses lose over a trillion dollars due to low productivity because of smoking, lack of exercise, and improper nutrition.  

Fitness Improves Team Work

Measuring camaraderie is difficult. However, it is a valuable benefit that workplace fitness brings. The more employees participate in fitness programs, the better the workplace teamwork gets. Employees become well acquainted with each other when they work out together. These relationships translate well in workplace productivity.  Corporate fitness programs breed social support as colleagues get to boost their partner’s confidence as well as hold them accountable for results.

When workers interact in settings other than the workplace, they get a chance to express themselves more freely. Company culture greatly benefits from this. There is also an increased sense of loyalty within companies due to corporate fitness. This is because of the goodwill employers show towards their workers. The teamwork atmosphere spreads in the whole community, which reflects a positive light on the organization. 

By letting employees know that their work is appreciated, employers can leave a significant impact on their workers. 

Reduced Absenteeism

Absenteeism can be costly if it occurs regularly, which is why having healthy workers is so important. They miss fewer workdays and are significantly more productive.

The MD Anderson Center for Cancer in Houston is a shining example of this. The department created an employee well being and health department, and just inside six years saw a decline in absenteeism by eighty percent. Modified duty rates also got to sixty-four percent. The center saved $1.5million in cost because of this step, which goes to show that businesses must start taking corporate fitness seriously. 

Why Gyms Should Get Involved in Corporate Fitness

Following is a list of reasons why gyms should consider involvement in the world of corporate fitness.

Gyms/Clubs are Perfect Allies for Workplace Fitness

Some companies that plan to incorporate corporate fitness do not have an idea of how they should conduct their sessions. This is where fitness clubs and gyms come into play. They have enough experience to give companies suggestions on how to conduct their fitness programs.

There are a wide range of solutions that fitness clubs and gyms provide to their clients:

  • On location fitness center management
  • Availability of experts like physical therapists, trainers, and dieticians
  • Group access classes on location and off location
  • Spaces to allow employees to conduct physical activity
  • Special rates tailored for corporate groups
  • Individual programs for people requiring separate attention to reduce their stress and increase fitness levels
  • Group tailored programs for improving employee health

Most Employers These Days Are Enthused About Incorporating Corporate Wellness

You might be surprised to find out the level of enthusiasm that employees have to introduce corporate fitness for their employees. The cost of health-related work losses to US employers is estimated to be $260 billion each year. Some businesses even go as far as offering financial incentives for wellness packages. The corporate fitness industry had a worth of $43 billionback in 2015. It has raised phenomenally in the past four years and continues to grow.  

Employers are aware of corporate fitness benefits and how it could save them money in the long run. Companies that have moved forward with the initiative have seen improved productivity and lesser absentees. It improves their deliverability rates and profitability.

Wellness and Fitness Are Becoming the Main Focus for Organizations

According to a survey conducted by (SHRM (society of human resource) close to 75 percent employers these days have programs for general wellness or wellness information in place. Several employers today are broadening wellness offerings even more. It’s as good a time as ever for gyms and health clubs to offer their services to large organizations. They can build long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial for them. 

Ideas for Corporate Fitness Programs

The best thing when it comes to corporate fitness is that gyms, as well as employers, can get creative to get the best out of each other. However, there are certain things that they can do to ensure that they get the most value out of their programs.

Challenges and Programs

The standard program that most gyms and fitness studios adopt is a weight loss challenge. It is simple and makes people compete, which is why it always works. There is nothing better than these programs to get employees motivated for taking part in wellness and health programs.   By creating challenges for making people reach their goals, people will have more incentive for sticking with wellness and fitness regimens along with their nutrition. 

The following are some effective ideas for challenges and programs. 

  • Eight-week program for nutritional health
  • Mental health and mindfulness program for two months
  • Twenty-eight days challenge
  • Physical health program of eight weeks

Personalized Perks

After attending a few workshops, employees get to know each other better. This opportunity helps them to personalize their program. Employers can ask fitness clubs to create personalized cookbooks by asking members of the staff about their favorite healthy dishes. 

Moreover, companies can also create personalized newsletters so that employees do not miss out on fitness and nutrition-related content online. It is effective to bond with teams and updates them about the latest health and fitness trends. Setting up Google alerts is also effective away to provide them timely updates on their computers. The content can be delivered on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Corporate fitness programs also allow gyms to narrow down specific exercises for individuals by providing them online content regarding exercises to do at home or during free time. 

Personalized touches go a long way, and it sets gyms apart from the competition. Bring a unique and genuine touch by providing people with tailored services helps employees to improve their levels of fitness and confidence. The likelihood of receiving positive reviews then increases, which leads to more recommendations. Customer referrals have shown to have close to 40 percent retention rates, which further proves the benefits of personalized services.  


Boosting retention and acquisition increases by ten folds with the help of workplace fitness workshops. It also provides a smooth transition for businesses to introduce fitness and nutrition. The simple reason behind this is that they are an excellent way to introduce people regarding the latest fitness and health ideas.

In reality, there could be some people in the workplace who are already into wellness and fitness. They will find workshops to be great if gyms or employers make them interactive. Encouraging people to ask questions regarding involving in fitness keeps them interested and in the loop. Workshops provide concepts in a shorter time with greater efficiency. 

Slowly introducing exercise concepts and nutrition in a workshop promotes a relaxed environment. Here is some useful workshop ideas. 

  • Mindfulness practices for improving the mental well being
  • Teaching important physical fitness components
  • The amount of exercise required by a healthy adult
  • Laying the foundation for productiveness through five simple steps
  • Cooking classes for teaching healthy eating

In Summary

Corporate fitness is booming these days, and gyms should utilize this opportunity to gain full advantage of it. It is lucrative for businesses as well as the gym and overall improves employee performance and well being.