Imagine your boss paying you to do things that are good for you! It’s happening all over the country and here in Des Moines. Corporations are helping employees get and stay healthy.
In fact more than twenty Meredith Corporation employees are showing up at 6am Monday through Friday, to take Leah Newman’s boot camp-style classes. “We’re going through December,” the personal trainer explains, “so it’s ninety days of fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle.”
In the class we attended there are six drills to complete: squats, pushups, sliders, wall walkers, box jumps and sprinting all five flights of stairs. The goal is to get through everything as quickly as possible. “You push yourself when you know there’s an end in mind, more so than a typical 45 minute class that you’ve done, that you can do in your sleep,” says Newman.
The workout is brutal, but Meredith employees have good reason for being here. “Well, you feel better,” says Wellness Director Tim O’Neil, “and from an employer standpoint, it helps employees be at their best, feel their best and have a lot of fun.” O’Neil is in charge of helping Meredith employees live healthy, and there are major perks for taking fitness classes, or attending workshops on combating stress or managing money. The company provides incentives on three different levels. First there’s the “Wellness Bucks Program” where employees can earn dollars that go into an account for things like fitness apparel and massages. Second, they can be reimbursed for health club memberships and hiring dieticians. And third, if they participate in programs like the ninety day challenge with Leah Newman, they get a discount on their health insurance. For the company, it makes sense. “We project we’ve saved about ten million dollars in claims in the past four years, so for us, it’s money well spent,” says O’Neil.
And Newman says she sees other benefits to colleagues working out together. “I see all fitness levels coming together, encouraging each other, it’s great team building!” Employees keep showing up before the sun for the camaraderie, a little bit of competition, and some compensation. “When we can make it fun for employees and rewarding as well, it truly is a win-win.”
Meredith is one of only three companies in the U.S. to receive a platinum-level "well workplace" designation from the Wellness Council of America this year. Principal and Des Moines University have received the honor the past two years.
For more information on the Wellness Council of America and the Wellness Council of Iowa, visit the following websites.