Healthy strategies trickle down from the top

Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Deborah Held Maslia Contributing writer
Friday, July 18, 2008

In an age of fast food, sleep deprivation and grande double-shot lattes, the days of excessive exercising are long over. Pulled in every direction at all hours of the day, and often working or traveling through the night, today’s harried decision-maker needs a workout that does double duty, double-time.

“Executives are goal-oriented; they want a quick, efficient workout,” said Chandler Snipes, regional manager for the health and wellness division of Atlanta-based Corporate Sports Unlimited Inc., a management firm for corporate fitness centers. “You’ve got to be committed to fitness to improve your health, but convenience is the biggest factor in sticking with the program.”

The corporate health club offers just this environment for the office executive, as well as for his equally busy office staff, said Snipes. Once found only on the largest Fortune 100 office campuses, the corporate fitness center is now well within reach of much smaller businesses, often shared by the many small companies leasing space in an office complex or high-rise.

Although the executive fitness center is open early for pre-work exercisers and into the evening for the after-work pack, the philosophy is about more than physical exercise or treadmill running (though those are still valued, too, of course). “It’s not all exercise; it’s finding the thing that lets you decompress,” said Allison Lee, general manager of The Plaza Executive Health Club, one of the clubs overseen by Corporate Sports Unlimited. “It’s making the time to fit a healthy lifestyle into you current working lifestyle.”

That will likely mean creating a recurring appointment in one’s Outlook calendar.

“Even 10 minutes of exercise helps,” said Snipes.

Above all, “take the time every day,” said Lee, to incorporate healthy lifestyle planning, be that walking around the office complex with a work buddy or pre-planning and packing meals and snacks that can be toted to the office, on an airplane or in the car.

With very little equipment, sometimes utilizing only travel-friendly resistance bands that take up virtually no precious packing space, a trainer can help keep the weary corporate road warrior motivated to adhere to a healthier way of life. “A good trainer can do a lot of functional training without a lot of equipment,” said Snipes.

“You can do a full-body workout in 10 or 15 minutes in your hotel room while watching TV,” said Lee.

For those who just can’t pry themselves from the office, Lee speaks of a business owner who purchased pedometers for her employees. “It makes people more aware, especially when you get the reality check of how little we get up from our desks during the day,” said Lee.

While experts recommend everyone walk 10,000 steps a day (roughly the equivalent of four miles), most people take only 2,000 steps in a day.

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