Some companies provide health insurance for their employees.
Some companies provide a gymnasium or exercise equipment for their employees to utilize for physical fitness workouts.
And then there are some companies that provide all of the above and more.
Since November, the 16 employees at Kirsch Trucking have been receiving one-on-one fitness instruction and nutrition consultation from nationally certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor Jacque Butler, owner of the JB Fitness center.
The employees work out under Butler’s instruction in teams of two or three at least three times a week. Each session lasts about 45 minutes and takes place during normal workday hours. Still in its infancy, the company-funded program is receiving rave reviews.
“We have 100-percent participation,” Kirsch Trucking co-owner Cam Kirsch said. “All of our teams are very excited and the employees are grateful. We’re just grateful that we’re able to do it. We look at it as an investment in our employees. You can hardly go wrong with something like this.”
Troy Chadwick is one of those grateful Kirsch employees, who as an entire group have lost nearly 59 pounds and over 50 inches since the program was initiated six weeks ago.
“We have high company goals, and we’re serious about those. They’re obviously serious about our personal goals because they’re allowing us to do this on work time,” Chadwick said. “It would be a blessing just to do this outside of work, and here they are giving their resources to us to help us all get better fit. It improves us totally as a company.”
Chadwick’s co-worker and fitness team partner Jeremy Becker is also appreciative of the positive impact the program is having.
“Personally, wow! On my account, I know I watch what I’m eating a little bit more now and I know I’m getting healthier by the day because we do this on a regular basis,” Becker said. “ It’s just a great situation.”
The regiment Butler puts the Kirsch employees through varies from day to day. Stretching, along with an assortment of strength, muscle development and cardio exercises, are the components she typically incorporates into the workout.
Exercise equipment and machines are seldom utilized.
“As a personal trainer, my philosophy is functional fitness. I believe in exercise,” Butler said. “Instead of sitting on machines and pushing fixed racks back and forth, I think it’s more important to incorporate movement and mechanics that will mimic real-life situations.
“At the end of the day, that decreases injury or potential injury and it increases our ease of movement. The other benefit is that it improves our health.”
Butler said each workout team at Kirsch is comprised of employees who are at similar fitness levels and share similar goals. Each of the employees has unique needs, she said.
“It’s different for every group or client. That’s one of the things I feel is really important in personal training – it can’t be a cookie cutter thing,” she said. “That’s the whole point of personal training. It’s individualized for the client to meet that client’s needs. That’s why it tends to be so effective.”
Nutrition is also part of the wellness program at Kirsch. Each employee keeps a food journal that Butler reviews on a regular basis.
“I make little notes on them – suggestions, feedback. People ask me, ‘Hey, we’re making meatloaf tonight. How can I make that a little healthier?’ I give them suggestions in terms of swapping out ingredients and things like that,” Butler said. “I’ll note certain foods that I think are really important to incorporate into the diet and also nutrient timing – when to eat what throughout the day.”
Butler stresses that proper nutrition is every bit as important as the exercise in ensuring good health.
“You have to do both,” Butler said. “People who exercise and are ignoring the food piece are really missing the boat. I tell people all the time, don’t waste the time you’ve spent here. Don’t work so hard here in the gym and then go waste it by eating something stupid.”
Cam Kirsch credits her husband, Jim, for implementing the company-wide wellness program. He called on Butler for personal guidance last February after his weight surpassed 350 pounds and his doctor told him he would need to start taking medication for diabetes.
“I hired her because I knew I was in trouble,” Jim Kirsch said. “I didn’t want to go on the diabetic stuff so we started working out. It was pretty interesting the first few weeks, I was in pretty bad shape.
“These people saw me lose 60-something pounds. The doctor told me I took my 200 sugar (after fasting) down to 125. He said it’s not where we want it, but it’s a helluva lot better than where you were. We don’t have to take the diabetic pills and we don’t have to take the shots.
I haven’t felt this good in 25 years.”
Jim Kirsch said the positive impact of the employee wellness initiative is being felt company-wide and the program is here to stay.
“The neat thing, I think, is we’ve had some incredible change in productivity,” he said. “It’s really helped us as a company. Productivity has been fabulous. We’ve got better teamwork. We’ve gotten better at getting along with each other. When we’re out here sweating, we’ve got something in common instead of just work.”
Butler said the program is the first of its kind in Glenwood and proving to be a win-win for both employee and employer.
“It’s really a forward-thinking thing to do. It’s putting some cash up front to hopefully save some money later by decreasing employee turnover, decreasing medical claims through the insurance, decreasing coverage during sick days – all those things that cost employers a ton of money,” Butler said. “And then again, going back to the productivity, every employer wants productive employees.
“It’s just a great illustration of their investment in their employees.”