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Corporate wellness is a way community rec centers can serve the local workforce and benefit the whole community as a result. Through classes and services aimed at getting groups of employees active and healthy, such programs can help workplaces become less stressful and more positive.

It’s a simple truth, according to Cathy Turner, the health and wellness director of the YMCA of the Shoals: workplace wellness benefits everyone. ”Having a healthy workforce makes for better products,” she said. “If people are feeling good, they’re more attentive to their work. And there’s less sickness and fewer days off.”

There are typically two ways to offer corporate wellness: giving group discounts and rates at the facility to employees of participating companies, or offering health and wellness services offsite. In Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the YMCA’s corporate wellness program offers members of the local workforce special offers for its facility.

“If a business sends more than five people to us at one time to join, everyone from that organization or corporation will not have to pay the joining fee — that can be up to a $50 reduction in cost to join,” shared Turner. “Our YMCA has a swimming pool, indoor track, fitness center, Group X space, free weight space and childcare — so when businesses send their workers to us, they can find something appropriate to them.”

In fact, the YMCA Corporate Membership has proven to be an effective tool for getting a greater percentage of the population through its doors.

“The industry standard says an area’s community saturation point should be right around 6 to 7%,” said Turner. “Our saturation rate, the last time I checked, was 8.2%. So we’re serving a lot of this community — corporations send their employees to us so they can have full-service recreational programs.”

Corporate wellness has served as a great way for the YMCA of the Shoals to interact with local city departments as well — specifically the fire department. “Firefighters can come while they’re on duty and workout for free,” shared Turner. “As long as they pull their truck into our parking lot, they can hop out, come in, workout and shower, then go back to work.”

Even if your participation numbers are high, constantly promoting the benefits of corporate wellness programs to businesses in the community is critical. When the YMCA of the Shoals began to transition its corporate wellness offerings completely to its own facility back in the early 2000s, the staff employed some grassroots marketing tactics.

“Our membership and marketing director, over the years, has approached different businesses to talk to them about what’s available here,” said Turner. “It’s not always easy to get into those offices, mostly because they’re as busy as we are, running their show. That’s the way we’ve gotten many corporations to participate.”

However you choose to operate your corporate wellness programs — onsite or off — it’s key to emphasize the variety of your offerings and the availability of something for everybody. You’ll be benefiting your local workforce by incentivizing local employees to be active and healthy.

“There are lots of different ways they can help encourage health and well-being,” said Turner. “It’s all about managing wellness resources well, and we can help corporations keep their people healthy.”

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the former editor of Community Rec Magazine.

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