Club Insider

Exercise IS Medicine!

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Mike AlpertMike Alpert

We all know that exercise has a powerful effect on health. Also, we all agree that we are in this industry to help people lead an independent, healthy lifestyle. And, we say that we care about our staff, the people who run our clubs and are 100% responsible for the success that we have as a business. We say that we want them to be healthy and be active. We encourage them to workout. But, do we really mean it?

Consider the following: (1) a large percentage of our staff are women; (2) a good percentage of them have young children at home, and (3) many have a spouse or significant other. We want them to work out at our clubs but most often require it to either be prior to or after work or on their lunch break. Think about that: Many moms take care of preparing breakfast and dinner for their family; are the main person taking their kids to doctors and dentist appointments, as well as sporting events on weekends; doing their family's chores like washing and house cleaning; and the list goes on and on and on. In addition, a man can do a 30 - 40 minute workout, shower and be back at his desk or department within one hour. Is this possible for a woman who has to dry her hair, put on makeup and get dressed in that same hour? And, for her to work out prior to or after work means that she must be at the club in many cases by 6:30 AM or be willing to get home after 7:00 PM. (I am assuming an 8:00 AM - 5:00PM schedule).

Let me tell you about an experiment we did at The Claremont Club a few years ago with the women who work in our business office. I agreed to pay them for their entire scheduled hours (8:00 AM - 5:00 PM) but allow them to workout between 3:30 - 4:30 PM each day, Monday through Friday for eight weeks. We all agreed that they would get their work done accurately and timely and that they would not miss their workouts. I had my CFO track their job performance during the eight weeks; our Director of Human Possibilities tracked morale, attendance and team work; and our Wellness Director and Registered Dietician tracked weight loss, energy levels and their overall feelings about how they felt about themselves. An amazing thing happened: it worked very, very well. Their work did not suffer in the least bit, and as a matter of fact, it improved as did the morale in the office and their overall quality of life.

This was simply an experiment. The challenge is how to make it fair and available to all staff without raising labor costs by leaps and bounds. Departments like Childcare and the Front Desk are difficult to do this for without adding many more staff hours. And, as a policy, it must be available to all or none.

Many clubs that I visit continue to have a policy of not allowing staff, even when they are off the clock, to work out during "prime" times at their facility. It is very clear that we need to serve our members in order to remain open. But, shouldn't we begin with the people who make our businesses run? Your staff should be a priority because if we take care of them, they will take care of the business. So... what are you doing to make sure that your staff participates in what we preach that: Exercise IS Medicine?

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