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A Wellness Program at the Workplace


Zivot fitness fun at IPW


A wellness program can do amazing things for an organization and there are many studies that support its direct and positive impact on both the individual and company level. I'm familiar with some of the great apps and coaching that companies offer employees, and they can be fantastic. Unfortunately, they can also be cost prohibitive for smaller organizations. The bright side here is that not utilizing programs intended for a larger audience opens the door to creativity and specificity when developing a wellness program for the workplace, and that allows for more flexibility as the program grows and changes with team members. I enjoyed, first-hand, incredible benefits when I created a wellness program at IPW, a manufacturing facility in Denver, CO [launched in 2017].


Here are just some of the wonderful things that came about as a direct result of the program:

  • Fostered a sense of community and collaboration across departments.

  • Reduced absenteeism.

  • Testimonials from team members cited improvements in health markers, such as blood pressure and decreased bouts of depression.

  • Lots more smiles and warm greetings!

  • Sessions on healthy eating habits were celebrated with nutritious and delicious potlucks with a rainbow of new recipes and tastings!

  • Fun HIIT classes that had us sweating and laughing!

  • Decreased renewal rate in medical premium two years in a row (company was self-funded)

It began with a simple flyer posted in the Denver facility that let team members know I'll be talking to the group about the foundation of health and wellness during an upcoming lunch. The majority was Spanish speaking, so I reached out and found an ambassador within the group who was bi-lingual. She translated that session for me and many others to come. Like many organizations, IPW had a facility and staff in another state, as well as some remote employees- I found an ambassador at our Indiana location to keep a pulse on things: program interest in our Indianapolis facility was different from that in Denver.


After the program launch and introduction to the foundation of living a healthier life, exciting challenges were rolled out. Challenges where individuals competed against themselves, with prizes that included fresh produce, fitness equipment and kitchen gadgets. Fitness was slowly incorporated into the program. I still remember the first time that I demonstrated a squat and lunge in the main breakroom while wearing dress pants and heels. It was the first time some of them saw these two moves and there were plenty of sweet smiles and giggles around the room. It was a playful energy and soon after, I began breakout sessions where we would do simple and beginner level fitness routines, just 5 or 10 minutes at first. The crowd grew and as we outgrew our space, we moved into the largest empty space of the warehouse-- the shipping area where trucks backed up into our docks to load up with inventory. The Warehouse Manager ensured a safe class each time, removing any pallets or equipment that could be a safety hazard and arranging pick-ups around class timing when possible. I led HIIT classes 2-3x a week and a Zumba instructor (an employee and fitness ambassador) led Zumba sessions 1-2x a week. We had company participation at about 30% for some time, including an older gentleman who we fondly referred to as Papa. He'd work out with his stylish western boots and denim each time - it was wonderful.


With such strong participation and an established program, I reached out to our Cigna partners to learn about wellness incentives they provide and how I can leverage them with the program. That discussion resulted in an on-going partnership where they attended a few of my classes onsite and I kept them abreast of challenges and fun going on. Seeing the positive impact, I received generous support from Cigna annually to help me with the program - they helped with equipment purchases consisting of yoga mats, dumbbells and rack, medicine balls, resistant bands, prizes and more! Cigna and our lab partner, Quest Diagnostic sponsored our first ever Health Fair where I had Quest Diagnostics come out and do basic lab work (and explanation of results) for all employees and their family members [whether they were insured or not]. The event was a success, and we had an overwhelming attendance on an off-work day!


Once the foundations of healthy eating were established and a robust fitness program in place, it was time to take it up a notch. I became an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and quickly began creating 6-week coaching sessions with groups up to 10, both onsite and remote. Sessions began with meditation and gratitude... it was a welcome break during the day for us all.


Continuing to build on the momentum of the wellness program, I introduced belly dancing. In fact, I led all my weekly sales and finance meetings with 1-2 belly dance songs - setting up my camera in the office to include team members in Indiana and Pennsylvania (remote). Disclaimer: I do NOT know how to belly dance. I like the music and the sound the wraps with the coins make, and I led the sessions with a very loose interpretation of belly dancing, at best. Interestingly enough, all the women participating in these weekly meetings learned to perform some of the basic moves, mastering the figure 8!


The best wellness programs include the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the individual. How they are structured and what they offer will vary-- think of the programs being bio-individual in some sense since they must take into consideration the demographic, location, industry, interest, and other important things of the organization and its culture. When team members are supported this way, wonderful things happen within the organization, allowing the business to thrive and work wholly as one. It truly is a mutually beneficial and beautiful energy, passion and commitment all around.

"IPW’s fitness/wellness program made a profound and positive impact with those employees who participated. Not only did the employees learn about making healthy decisions regarding food and exercise, but it also substantially saved the company money with its health care costs. I am so pleased to have learned that the exercise sessions continue on a daily basis and know the health and well-being of those employees continues to improve. Zivot has left a lasting and meaningful impact." ~Keith Arnold, Co-Founder, IPW
"The program changed my outlook as I experimented with new ideas and learned how to live a healthy lifestyle. It was challenging at first but the more I stayed the path, the easier it got. I felt very strong, energized... such a GREAT feeling! When I was part of the wellness program, I was the healthiest that I had ever been and I was eating a diet that I've never eaten before. I truly miss Senia and what she brought to IPW." ~ Jose Montoya, IPW Shipping Warehouse Manager
"Imagine if you will that you're working in a warehouse with individuals speaking different languages. You would love to connect with them but language barriers make it difficult. Next, imagine a Zivot coach launching a wellness program in this warehouse. Like magic, people start laughing together, sweating together, and sharing a common goal. All of a sudden, the language barrier disappears. Friendships develop. Collaborations develop. Friends put language differences aside, work out together, struggle together and share huge successes TOGETHER. This happened to me!! My time with Zivot has been a life altering experience and I hope it becomes that for you as well." ~Jenny Pfeifer, Warehouse associate, IPW.
"The wellness program positively impacted my life. Participating in the coaching sessions and fitness classes changed my lifestyle for the better: I am eating well now, better managing my work life balance, and prioritizing my time to allow room for exercise. With a healthy body and mind, we can do all things." ~ Tjitra Armendariz, Payroll Specialist, IPW.

With love and sparkles,

Senia

Weekly sales and finance meetings at IPW


Healthy snacks coming in for a Zivot coaching session.

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