Celebrating the success of an onsite fitness program

Almost a year out of the gate, London Health Sciences Centre’s pilot fitness program is delivering big rewards to participants.   The pilot fitness program was launched in response to a Healthy Workplace Team Report along with feedback from focus groups conducted with LHSC employees, and evidence from the literature.  

The purpose of this innovative program is to create a culture of wellness within the organization, incorporating physical activity into daily staff routines, aligning with staff values of active living as an essential part of both personal and corporate well-being.  According to the Healthy Organization Team Report, “improvement in the health of workplaces has been associated with an enhanced safety culture, better patient outcomes and improved organizational costs related to patient care”.

Heralded by all, for it’s variety of classes, professional, encouraging instructors and onsite convenience, participation in the fitness program has not only provided benefits such as weight loss and increased energy and strength, but has also improved morale and reduced the stress often felt throughout the workday. 

Like many of the other champions, Stephanie Fox first learned about the program through her coworkers and was inspired to join by a desire to stay healthy and the convenience of the free at-work classes. In addition to the physical benefits, Stephanie has also noticed increased alertness and productivity throughout the workday, noting that, “you wouldn’t think that just a half hour would equal results, but it does!”

For Sheila Schembri, it was fitness program lead Susan Rosato’s contagious enthusiasm that motivated her to give the classes a chance. In a story that many can relate to, Sheila had joined and quit the gym many times over the past several years, always citing a lack of time as the reason. Today, she attends the onsite classes at least twice a week and feels a strong sense of accomplishment at the end of each workout. For her, participation in the program also meant that she was able to keep up with her husband on a recent vacation that was filled with swimming, hiking and biking.

Kathy Eggett’s experience has gone beyond fitness, as participation the program has inspired her to lead a healthier lifestyle overall. After making a pact to attend classes with a number of her colleagues, she now also walks for an hour a day and is committed to healthier eating. Her advice to anyone that is on the fence about starting a fitness routine is that “it only takes a half hour a day to begin strengthening your body, renewing your soul and rejuvenating your passion for life!”

In addition to daily exercise classes, the program offers group-led walks and a responsive program called “Frontline Workers: We Come to You” where certified personal trainers go to nursing units and clinical areas to provide 15-20 minute stretching and relaxation sessions to staff in their own work environments (e.g. surgical staff in the operating rooms prior to the start of their days).  The benefits of the program include:  reduced absenteeism, increased professional satisfaction, reduced potential for illness and injury as well as increased productivity and improved health.   Recently launched programs include a “Couch to 5 K” with a goal of running in a 5 km charity event on Father’s day and team challenges where groups are looking to lose weight and get healthy.

Up until March 31, 2012, the pilot program has had over 29,000 employees’ visits.