INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — By now, most people understand how to take control of their health through eating better, moving more and quitting smoking. Since health care costs are rising faster than inflation, more companies are taking an interest in helping employees improve their health through corporate wellness programs.
“We’ve had some great successes, some weight loss, some people just exercising,” said Ruth Ann Rusie, human resource manager at Perfect Pallets, an Indianapolis transportation company with more than 50 employees. “I think probably the most successful thing for us is we’re creating the culture of eating healthy and exercising – and it’s creating a healthy workforce for us.”
In October 2013, Perfect Pallets became one of five companies to begin testing a new corporate wellness program through Fit Livin’ – which started as a group training company in 2009 and has grown into a multi-sport team, clothing line, community event coordinator and an emerging corporate wellness company.
Matt Shade, 41, the founder and CEO of Fit Livin’ began developing the corporate wellness program in 2012 with the help of Indianapolis health care professionals George Lathrop, MD and Judy Porter, RD.
“We’re a company that delivers a healthy, sustainable lifestyle for employees to reduce preventable health care spending,” Shade said. “For companies of 100 employees or less, this is a fully functioning wellness product that you can get set up on within two weeks.”
The program provides each company an online dashboard where employees can track nutrition, log activity and participate in monthly challenges, like a ‘Fruggie’ challenge where participants were encouraged to eat a certain number of fruits and vegetables each week. The challenge for the month of May, a “4 Mile Challenge,” consists of two goals: complete 4 miles and do it under one hour.
Employees compete with colleagues in their companies and against other companies using Fit Livin’s corporate wellness programs.
“The Fit Dawg challenges are the most fun,” said Kim Richwine, as she hoists a large trophy won by Perfect Pallets. “My team has won the last two inner-company Fit Dawg Challenges and we look forward to the next one.”
Richwine, a mom to a 9-year-old boy, admits to being unfit before the Fit Livin’ program launched at Perfect Pallets.
“Before if I would diet, it would just be the food and I never really got my exercise,” says Richwine. “But this time, I started with the exercising first because of Fit Livin’.”
Richwine began organizing daily walks around their building to encourage more co-workers to get moving. She has also been able to make time for a walk, spin class and yoga. She has lost a significant amount of weight but admits she has not weighed herself to know how much.
“I try to go low-carb and I’ve eliminated a lot of sugars and I try to eat a lot of chicken,” says Richwine. “I feel really good!”
Fit Livin’ offers four tiers of service within its wellness program: basic, standard, assist and premier. The basic program costs $5 per person, per month and requires a highly motivated group of employees to make it successful. The top tier, premier, costs $20 per person, per month and includes members of the Fit Livin’ team spending time on-site facilitating educational and physical experiences.
“We can do a bike trainer class, we can do a yoga class, we can do what we call a 5k Friday where we go out and walk or run a 5k,” says Shade. “Fit Livin’ is not just about running, walking, biking — it’s about finding your passion and going for it.”
Fit Livin’s trademarked phrase is “fitness with a goal” and focuses on helping employees find their passion in fitness.
“We create the captains. We create the leaders. We create the games and eventually over time and eventually the participation takes care of itself because over time, employees see other employees having fun, being happy and healthy — and that’s the whole dynamic behind being a community driven product,” Shade said.