Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that places people at increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, states information on the American Heart Association Web page (www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4756; retrieved Nov. 11, 2008).
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (October 2008; 50 , 1139–48), nearly one-quarter of the U.S. work force has the condition. Researchers analyzed health risk data of 5,512 employees of a large financial services corporation and discovered that 22.6% had metabolic syndrome. Further, the more risk factors a person had (large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high glucose levels, etc.), the more likely he or she was to call in sick. Not only does this prove a dire situation for the health of the U.S. work force, but it also increases the financial burden of employers—and can mean big opportunity for creative, enterprising fitness professionals. “Since full-time workers spend at least 75% of their waking hours at work, and since a healthy worker costs less and is more productive, workplace health initiatives are a win-win situation for both employer and employee,” states Ingrid Knight-Cohee, MSc, IDEA presenter and acting director of health and fitness at YWCA Vancouver. If you’ve been thinking of breaking into the corporate fitness/wellness market, implement these suggestions, courtesy of Knight-Cohee:
- Let current clients know you’re keen to offer services to their workplace.
- Seek out corporate fitness facilities and propose a training arrangement. For example, offer to teach three indoor cycling classes per week in exchange for facility usage to train clients for a prescribed number of hours per week.
- Deliver stretch breaks for staff meetings.
- Provide a Web-based desk-stretch sequence and/or “fit tips” via the company website or e-newsletter.
- Be polished and professional, and appreciate the challenges of corporate clientele specific to the occupation or industry.
Want to learn more? Check out the following resources:
- “Corporate Wellness—Programming for Profit,” May 2008 IDEA Fitness Journal.
- “Courting Corporate Fitness” DVD by Ingrid Knight-Cohee, MSc, from the 2008 IDEA World Fitness Convention™, www.ideafit.com/fitness-products/courting-corporate-fitness.