How to organise an exercise class at work
Lack of time is a common excuse for not exercising, which is why having a class at work can be a blessing. Finding time to exercise during work hours means not having to find time after work, when motivation is low and the couch calls, particularly in these darker winter months.
Time management isn’t the only benefit. Exercising before or during work can boost mood and energy, beat stress, improve concentration and break up the long hours of sitting that characterise the working day for many of us.
The business benefits for employers are also significant. Workplaces that invest in health and wellbeing enjoy greater worker morale, increased productivity, enhanced reputation and, in the long term, fewer sick days.
Organising a class at work is straightforward and only requires a small investment of time on the part of a workplace champion or health and wellbeing representative.
- Management support: Approach appropriate managers with your ideas and get their support. Agree any financial contribution that your workplace might make to the classes, for example paying for the venue or subsidising the cost of the instructor.
- Consult: Spend a bit of time finding out the kind of class your colleagues are interested in attending. You can do this with an online survey, by discussing it in general staff meetings, with a suggestions box or just by talking informally to staff. The size of your workplace will determine which option is the most appropriate.
- Try different options: If there are lots of suggestions for different activities, consider running taster sessions and then decide on one or two that prove most popular.
- Decide timing: You’ll need to ask when your colleagues would like to attend the class. This might be during lunchtime or early morning before work starts. Also take into account interested colleagues who may not work every day of the week when choosing a day to run the activity.
- Decide frequency: You’ll also need to ask how often people would like to attend the class and whether they would like to do a course of classes (say for ten weeks) or just run it on an ongoing basis.
- Find a venue: Is there a room in your building that would work? If not, find a suitable venue within walking distance of your workplace – driving to the venue just creates a barrier to participation. Scout halls, church halls, council buildings or a local gym may all have suitable rooms and, in summer, a local green space could be perfect.
- Find an instructor: Recommendations are always good but consulting professional bodies for the activity that you’ve chosen (for example Yoga Australia accredits yoga teachers) will ensure that you get a well-qualified instructor. Check that they have current insurance and a first aid qualification and that they are able to provide all the necessary equipment.
- Consider alternatives: If you don’t want to employ an instructor directly, ask your local gym if they would be willing to put on a private class for your group. This can be an expensive option. Alternatively, check whether you have any members of staff who are qualified (you’ll be surprised by the hidden talents of your workmates) or do without an instructor and get together for an online class instead. This last option is the most affordable.
- Market the class: Use posters, meetings and the intranet to promote the activity to workers. And don’t forget to keep evaluating and talking to people about how it’s going.
That’s all there is to it! Why not be the person who makes it happen in your workplace.
Until next time,
The Happy Worker
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