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The march of the unstoppable fitness craze

The health and fitness industry is rapidly growing, with its total market value exceeding £5 billion for the first time in the UK.

Despite this, a recent report by the Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity showed that while the UK is not doing too badly when compared to other European countries, 37% of us said that we never exercise or play sport.

This is a worrying stat, particularly as Public Health England found inactivity costs organisations with more than 1,000 employees around £126,000 per annum in productivity rates.

Being inactive is taking a significant toll on people’s health and wellbeing and there is evidence to suggest that exercise can limit work absences through a reduction in back injuries, stress, depression and anxiety.

On your marks!

Managers play a key part in the promotion of physical activity in the workplace. It’s time we stop faffing around - so, grab the bull by the horns and actively promote fitness in the workplace because, after all, without our health, we're nothing!

While we may spend most of our waking lives at work, we do little in terms of physical activity there. We're often all too happy to dedicate time to weekly meetings and lunch breaks, but how about focusing some of our time on fitness?

While this concept may seem a little out of place amongst the corporate culture that exists in the UK, in other countries the idea of promoting physical activity at work is one that is actively (excuse the pun) encouraged.

In Sweden for example, some companies go as far as to include clauses in their employees' contracts that state that they must take part in physical activities. For example, clothing brand Björn Borg has set a mandatory hour per week for a workout for each employee.

Did you know?

The UK lags behind Scandinavian countries where less than 20% of the adult population say they do not exercise.

Why fitness matters

You may be wondering how expecting your employees to exercise during office hours could help you; however, many studies have proven the importance of sport in the workplace.

In fact, according to a Harvard study, for each dollar invested in the promotion of physical activity within the workplace, $4 is saved in medical costs and $3 in absenteeism costs.

It actually gets better, research conducted by John Hopkins University has proven that 75 minutes of intense exercise each week can reduce absenteeism figures by 4.1 days per year, and research a little closer to home, a study by Leeds Metropolitan University has shown that when employees go to the gym during their working hours, they become more efficient in managing their time.

So, when all things are considered, it may come as no small surprise that being healthier and more efficient at work can result in happier and more motivated employees.

How to increase the fitness of your team?

After reading this you must be itching to know how your business can benefit from a fitter and healthier workforce.

To give you a little nudge in the right direction, we’ve put together a few ideas to promote fitness and wellbeing in the workplace that doesn’t necessarily require you to install a state-of-the-art gym!

🚲 Get them riding

Encourage employees to ride their bike to work. You could start a ‘cycle to work scheme’ to help employees purchase a bike.

Did you know?

Only 4% of UK employees cycle to work. Unsurprisingly, given their tendency to use bikes in the capital, the Dutch lead the peloton in Europe with a staggering 46% of the country using their bikes on a daily basis.

🚲 Cycle to work.

🧘 Stretch them a little

The founder of Hootsuite says that he has always encouraged physical activity in his company because he is very conscious of the importance of fitness in the workplace. Before Hootsuite became the multinational business it is today, they had modest fitness installations such as a pull-up bar and used pilates balls instead of regular chairs.

Hootsuite’s headquarters now has a gym, shower facilities and they schedule yoga classes in the morning and at lunchtime.

The point to takeaway here is to start small if your budget is limited, as there are cost-effective ways to improve the general fitness of your team.

🚲 Cycle to work.

“I would never have been able to remain calm and maintain composure and focus in the midst of chaos without working out every day.”

Ryan Holmes, founder of Hootsuite

🧘‍♂️🧘‍♀️ Get exercising.

🧘‍♂️🧘‍♀️ Get exercising.

💪🏼 Start a workout group or running club

At PayFit, a group of employees work out every Wednesday from 8 am to 9 am at the athletics track located near our Paris office. Any staff member is welcome to join and each week we see more and more PayFiters come along.

Sometimes it’s easier to find motivation as a group and it’s an opportunity to meet new colleagues and forge new friendships.

With our London team being small, we joined a co-working space with free yoga classes and employees receive a discount on local gym memberships.

🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️ Get running.

🏃‍♀️🏃‍♂️ Get running.

🏷 Get a discount from your local gym

You might be able to negotiate a corporate discount with your local gym or leisure centre. There are also corporate options with Classpass or Incorpore that give access to different studios and classes for a single fee.

Did you know?

According to a study conducted by Gymlib, 68% of employees say they would work out if their employers covered some of the financial cost.

🕹 It’s time to gamify

Discounted gym memberships and cycle to work schemes are great, but they can be limited to the people that they have always appealed to.

You can engage more people by making things simple and personal and can use apps like Fuell to set up team challenges.

Fuell is a challenge-based fitness and wellness app to help businesses achieve a more active workforce. You can create a positive and encouraging environment for all participants by building your own challenges, joining global ones and rewarding employees.

The best thing about the Fuell app is that it's FREE! You could set up something as simple as a weekly or monthly league with incentives or prizes for the top three employees with the most steps.

🏓 Who doesn't love a bit of whiff whaff?

Whatever you do, make it FUN

Here are some quick and easy ways to make fitness fun:

  • Provide a pilates ball to improve posture and reinforce the abdominals
  • Install a treadmill so employees can walk and work
  • Weekly yoga sessions
  • Annual sports days
  • Get a few standing desks so people can work while standing
  • Buy a table tennis table. It’s fun and helps burn calories
  • Hold standing meetings! You never know, you may see fewer attendees falling asleep 😉

Whether your business already encourages physical activity in the workplace or is planning to do so, we recommend checking guidance on using the tax system to offer gym memberships and sports facilities to staff.

🏓 Who doesn't love a bit of whiff whaff?

Providing sport benefits through PayFit!

As of May 2020, the PayFit app now allows customers to offer gym memberships as a benefit to their employees.

Want to find out more about PayFit? Why not book a demo with one of our product specialists today?

PayFit blog author


UK Marketing Manager