Wellness fits

From left are Fitness Coliseum coach Bryce Dolan, Shiawassee Health and Wellness CEO Lindsey Hull and Shiawassee Health and Wellness executive assistant and operations manager Jamie Semans.

OWOSSO — Shiawassee Health and Wellness has launched a fitness initiative for its employees, who have been working under stressful conditions since the pandemic hit nearly two years ago.

The nonprofit mental health center’s board of directors recently approved a one-year FitCorp membership at the Fitness Coliseum, 210 S. Water St. in downtown Owosso, for each of its 130 employees, plus one spouse or older child.

“Health care workers have been at the heart of the fight to preserve health and well-being during a pandemic,” said Penny Corbin, Shiawassee Health and Wellness public relations and prevention specialist.

“It has been a significant burden to successfully treat consumers and maintain personal responsibilities. Health care workers experiencing emotional exhaustion are prone to errors, lack of empathy in practice, lower productivity, higher rates of burnout and turnover.”

Shiawassee Health and Wellness employees received universal membership services at Fitness Coliseum, including classes in CrossFit, spinning, barre, yoga, bootcamp style and barbell; open weightlifting access, body composition scans as frequently as every six weeks and a nutrition guide.

“The group is a perfect example of how we like to see our FitCorp memberships work,” Fitness Coliseum owner/head trainer Brianna Carroll said. “It shows that the employer cares about their staff and wants them to be healthy. It helps take away excuses that get in the way of people beginning a health and wellness journey and it creates a built-in support network.

“We have seen the employees make ‘dates’ to come to a class together, encourage each other during workouts and get to know each other on levels outside of the workplace. We also have seen many employees involve their families, spreading the wellness even further.”

Shiawassee Health and Wellness and the gym hosted a six-week kickoff challenge, from Aug. 2 through Sept. 10, tracking body fat percent change, number and variety of classes attended, most muscle mass gained, and nutrition and walking challenges.

The organization awarded prizes to employees with the largest body fat percentage change, the most and largest variety of classes attended, most muscle mass gained for male and female, and highest increased fitness score.

Employees who went to 18 or more classes or completed all six weeks of their nutrition tracker goals were recognized, becoming part of the “SHW Wellness Squad.” Drawings were held with prizes such as sweaty selfies or group pictures at the gym after class.

The results were striking. Employees attended 682 classes, with 59 employees trying at least one class and 11 classes on average. All together, the group lost 81.4 pounds of body fat and gained 33.7 pounds of muscle mass. Eighteen members joined the wellness squad.

“The partnership with Fitness Coliseum has been absolutely remarkable,” Shiawassee Health and Wellness CEO Lindsey Hull said. “I am beyond proud (we offered) this benefit to our team for the effort they are making to improve their well-being and of the Fitness Coliseum team for the environment and top-notch service they offer in our community. This partnership we have … is cutting edge in so many ways.”

The initiative can trace its roots to 2018, when Shiawassee Health and Wellness developed a wellness plan with a long-term goal of improving the overall health and well-being of staff and reduce health care costs.

Then the pandemic hit, making employee wellness critically important. Research showed that effective strategies include access to physical health services, such as a gym.

“We knew we had to do something to provide support to our staff,” said Shiawassee Health and Wellness Executive Assistant and Operations Manager Jamie Semans. “It’s been two years of going through these challenges, including finding new ways to provide services.”

Semans continued: “We’ve had higher caseloads throughout this pandemic, and more people calling to get the help they need. It’s a hard time for everyone, and our staff has been working hard.”

The biggest challenge with the gym membership was persuading employees to give it a try, she said. Those who did saw a clear benefit.

“This has really created a new energy in our building,” Semans said. “You have healthier, more productive employees if they are improving their own wellness. Our employees run into other employees at the gym, and they connect in a different way.”

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