The Company That Works Out Together, Works Well Together

business fitness

Overit Media in Albany, New York, is at the leading edge of a trend. The 30-person company was recently featured in Fast Company because of its hourly company-wide business fitness breaks, which range from lunges and pushups to “freestyle dancing.”

Every hour, employees drop what they’re doing when the company P.A. urges them to join in the two-minute group fitness activity. There’s also a power walk at lunch.

When I saw the photos of Overit employees “planking” on their office floors, I giggled. (And also thought that you’d have to have a pretty casual dress code – or a pretty good janitorial staff – to be confident about dropping to the floor at any given moment). But giggles aside, Overit has the right idea.

Making fitness a part of the workday is a concept that’s gaining momentum for many reasons.

Employees who are fit are less likely to get sick or suffer from chronic health problems like back pain or diabetes that can lead to extended time off. Of course, fewer health problems mean fewer doctor visits and lower health care costs – good news for employers and employees alike.

Many companies are dealing with concerns about rising health care costs by urging employees to eat better, exercise more and generally be healthier. But this can be hard to do because at the same time, you’re urging them to work longer hours and do more with less. Because you still can’t afford to replace the employees you laid off back in 2008. Below are three lessons every company can learn from Overit’s business fitness program.

Ways to Put Business Fitness Into Place

Think Small

For many of us, making big changes is hard. Overit’s plan is based on small, simple changes that don’t ask too much of anyone. In itself, taking a two-minute break every hour of the workday, that’s 16 minutes of calisthenics, isn’t going to turn anyone into The Biggest Loser or transform a couch potato into a triathlete.

But it can trigger your employees to think differently about fitness. Exercise makes you feel good and want to do more.

Make it Regular

Because the exercise break is repeated every hour, it drills the benefits of fitness into participants’ heads in a way that a weekly in-office yoga session or shoulder rub can’t. Frequency also benefits the business by getting employees’ blood flowing on a regular basis, which leads to clearer thinking, better work and fresher ideas…all day long.

Do it Together

How many times have you vowed to make a healthy change like doing yoga stretches at your desk or taking a quick walk instead of downing coffee when you need energy at 3 p.m.? You do it for two days, or maybe a week, and then work gets in the way. It’s a lot easier to stick to a new habit when everyone else is doing it with you (and when the P.A. is reminding you).

Group workouts have the added benefit of sending the message, “We’re a team, you’re part of our team and we care about your well-being.” That boosts employees’ mental and emotional health as well as their physical fitness.

How are you working employee fitness into your workday? Do you have a business fitness program in place?

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.