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A good fit

Installing a gym is all very well, but how do you encourage people to use it?

Says Wade: “I did some research on what helps make an in-house gym successful, and after looking at some other installations found that corporate gym providers don’t always cover the whole wellness side – and of those which were not managed, the take-up tended to be low. This is why we ensure everyone who uses the gym is properly inducted.”

He engaged the services of personal training provider Elite Private Fitness, who took on the brief to ensure that the equipment would be used properly and people would exercise safely, continuing to derive maximum benefit from the gym.

Jason Corrie of Elite Private Fitness, explains: “We ensure that every single person who comes through the door has a proper induction, which involves a 30-minute process to ensure that everything is done by the book. People may say, ‘I’ve used gyms before and know how to use the equipment’, but we tell them, ‘we appreciate you’ve probably used gyms before, but this is brand new and has different features’. This way, we make sure that everyone who comes in has a full induction so they know how to set themselves up on every piece of equipment.”

Since the gym opened, Corrie and his team have completed 250 individual inductions of 30 minutes each to ensure every member understands how to use every single bit of kit. Elite also operates the online booking software once staff have had their induction (their building pass is activated to allow access to the gym). They can also book supervised classes online. These supervised lunchtime classes currently comprise high-intensity interval training sessions twice a week, but Corrie says the level of demand is such he is planning to offer more.

Members can use the gym unsupervised any time between 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday, when there are first-aiders and strategic people such as reception and security in the building. There are also CCTV cameras covering every angle of the gym for lone occupancy, a defibrillator and a hotline phone in case of accidents. “One of my greatest concerns was about the health and safety aspects, as the gym is a very different environment from the workplace,” explains Wade. “It’s essential to have the right control measures in place.”

Over 50 per cent of staff currently use the facilities, paying a nominal £10 a month fee straight from payroll. “And because we give inducted people access to the gym via their access card, this gives them the incentive to wear that around the estate – so we know who is in there at any one time.” He adds: “The whole thing just works. One of my concerns was about the amount of admin involved, but this process makes it all happen automatically.”

The feedback suggests the gym is as important a benefit in terms of retention and recruitment as the pension scheme, and it is mentioned on the Glassdoor review site as helping to create a positive workplace culture at the BMA.

An important issue to emerge from the AXA PPP report on workplace exercise was people’s self-consciousness when using gym facilities. Low self-esteem and body issues are a barrier preventing 22 per cent of employees from exercising with colleagues, while one in 10 are deterred by the prospect of wearing spandex and general gym gear. Physical appearance aside, a quarter of people (25 per cent) were reluctant to exercise with colleagues due to embarrassment around feeling unfit.

“Normal people just want to come down from their desk and do some exercise to help them feel better,” says Corrie. “My job is to make users feel comfortable when they walk in, and not worry about anybody else. It’s about confidence. We have members of all ages and abilities using the facilities who have never used a gym before.”

Wade agrees. “The great thing is that there is a wide demographic of users with people having different aims for using the gym. We looked at different suppliers of personal training, but what we liked about Elite is the personal service, the one-to-one inductions, because I was conscious that we didn’t want to just put this facility in and tell people to crack on with it.”

Wade’s advice to FMs who are considering installing a workplace gym is to devote a lot of thought to planning to ensure it’s not too sparse or crowded. Don’t just create a room, but engage with partners and providers to build a level of trust. He also advises it’s a good idea to get the advice and help of a fitness organisation to help run the facility. “It’s having a workplace partner in Elite which has really taken it to the next level,” he explains. “We’ve nurtured a good relationship here and that’s what all the good feedback is about.”

About Sarah OBeirne

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