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July 11, 2013, 12:00AM PT in Fitnovatives Blog  |  0 Comments

Corporate Wellness: How to Start a Program From Scratch

fitness businessCorporate wellness programs—we keep hearing how they will become more mainstream over the next decade, but what does that mean to you as a fitness professional? More hours of training clients? Yes. Even more time networking, marketing and doing business development? Yes.

There are many companies in the U.S. that currently have comprehensive wellness programs. If you want to get hired by one of these companies and train for them full-time, this article will probably not suit your needs. This 3-part series is geared toward the ACE-certified Personal Trainer or Group Fitness Instructor who wants to start something new at a company. And that something new is an on-site group fitness program. Nothing more. We’re not talking smoking-cessation programs, blood screenings, etc… this is simply a way to get employees active before, during or after work.

To begin, ask yourself the following questions and start making some lists:

  1. What can YOU offer a company? Make a list of the various types of classes you teach, the certifications you hold and other skills that will make you successful in leading a group.
  2. What fitness professionals do you currently know or work with who have skills that could enhance an on-site workplace fitness program? Make a list of these individuals and reach out to them to discuss collaborating on this venture.

If your personal list is centered around one-on-one personal training or very specific niches, then you must call on other professionals to help you. You should also consider taking group fitness classes. You don’t need to be an expert in all areas of fitness, but you should at least be familiar with yoga, Pilates, tai chi, Crossfit and other major trends so that you’re able to make suggestions to clients. In corporate fitness, you will interact with a wide range of people, from twenty-somethings to individuals nearing retirement. Some will be current exercisers, while others may have never set foot inside a gym. How will you meet their individual needs in this dynamic group setting?

Variety is what will keep employees interested in a workplace fitness program; it’s no different from the clients and members you encounter at your current gyms. If a company is interested in offering a yoga class to its employees two times a week, would you or someone on your team be able to teach it? You never want to have to turn away a job, so search far and wide for quality professionals that have a like-minded training philosophy.

To run a workplace fitness program, you will need good time-management skills. How will you deal with the “Chatty Cathy’s” or the people that show up 15 minutes late because they were in a meeting? While it may disrupt your class, at least they showed up. So how will YOU make every second of that workout functional, meaningful and fun?

Let’s figure out what you and your team can offer. In part 2 of this series, I’ll provide you with information on how to research companies and talk to them about starting your workplace fitness program. Until then, here’s some homework to get you started!

  • Make the two lists detailed earlier.
  • Contact at least 10 local colleagues in the industry and discuss your vision. If you haven’t seen them teach a group class, observe them.
  • Attend one new workout a week and then take a few minutes to jot down the things that did or didn’t work well. You can always reflect on these when you are putting together your workouts.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series!

By Angel Chelik


Angel Chelik, founder and owner of Sea Level Workouts, has worked in the fitness industry for 14 years. She is an ACE-certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, and Health Coach; holds a B.S. in Kinesiology, and an M.S. in Exercise Science. Angel designs wellness programs for San Diego companies, teaches fitness classes and is an adjunct instructor at Southwestern College.

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