Sweating it out for fitness

Lane Cove Council in New South Wales has helped kick-start the personal health goals of its staff through their new employee wellness program.

Since the initiative began in October 2012, one third of Council staff have taken advantage of the opportunity to join group fitness classes, start weight loss programs or receive subsidies for their current fitness activities.

The most popular option was to attend lunchtime group fitness sessions at the local gym twice a week, where staff from a range of Council’s facilities sweat it out during spin or circuit classes, or breathe-easy during the much anticipated yoga sessions).

Those participating in the weekly Weight Watchers meetings lost a total of 50kg together during the 12-week program, while many other staff chose to go at their own pace through the redemption of a $100 subsidy for other wellness activities, including tai chi, yoga and gym memberships.

Council’s HR Manager Tracey Collins said that the program has had other benefits than its stated intention of assisting staff get into shape.

“We have been so pleased with the level of participation in the program and we also are seeing a real sense of camaraderie between staff who motivate each other to head along to the group sessions. It has also flowed on to other aspects of the workplace with staff swapping tips and healthier alternatives being provided at staff functions.”

Council has received such positive feedback from staff that the initial 12-week trial has been extended into 2013 with numbers expected to increase, particularly as staff join in the annual ‘Walk Around The World’ event.

Now in its second year, the ‘Walk Around The World’ initiative encourages the local community to get active by recording the number of steps they walk each day throughout March.

Last year Council staff were encouraged to participate through a breakfast launch and subsidised starter packs that included a pedometer. Staff from Council’s library relished the challenge and won an award for their efforts at 2012’s ‘Walk Around the World’ celebration event.