Health & Fitness

Fitness boosts productivity of employees

Winne Atieno works out at CrossFit Kwetu Gym in Gigiri, Nairobi  DIANA NGILA
A woman works out at CrossFit Kwetu Gym in Gigiri, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG 

Fitness and health are essential for the workplace, a fact that has been embraced by corporates to boost employee morale and productivity.

With endorphins freely flowing after a good workout, the performance of the employee is optimum, encouraging others to follow suit.

Some companies are offering welfare programmes, financial empowerment, clinical assessments and counselling services while others are taking it a notch higher with fitness facilities, hikes and spas.

Azima Wellness Consultants Director Maina Azimio knows too well the benefits of staff wellbeing, using his company as a model.

He says they should be looked at as ways to get more out of employees by helping them stay healthy.

“Treat hys being fit is not just about going to the gym or hiking ical health, mental, financial and emotional wellbeing of employees as a way to reduce the rising health issues and healthcare costs.your workers first. If there are happy they will treat the customers right which translates to more money,” he said during the fifth Institute of Human Resource Manangement (IHRM) conference on humanizing the workplace in Mombasa.

Mr Maina spearheads different wellness activities and trainings on the same in various organizations.

He believes in physical health, mental, financial and emotional wellbeing of employees as a way to reduce the rising health issues and healthcare costs.

Every morning at four o’clock he hits jogging trails and together with his office staff he also hikes on every third Saturday of the month.

They have climbed Aberdare Range, Mt Longonot, William hill, Mt Kilimambogo and are preparing to conquer Mt Kenya again.

“We keep on doing it. But you cannot wake up and just go and hike not for a mountain we have to prepare through physical fitness.”

“You can join us on telegram. I normally post the exercises we are doing, “he offers.

But being fit is not just about going to the gym or hiking Mr Maina says it also encompasses more than eating right.

“Wellness is holistic. We also teach on financial wellness, “he says. “I tell my staff to wake up in the morning and workout. I cannot stop them from eating what they want but I keep educating them.”

“Know what to eat but you also need to be able to afford the food.”

Employers have become so concerned on the health of their workers with some such as Kenya Breweries also sponsoring hikes, he says.

Mr Maina adds putting up a gym in your home or office is easier than it seems as most places have an unused space. For slightly more than Sh200,000 one can put up a full fitness facility in the space.

“I did my house gym in 2004.The cost of equipping it was about Sh200,000. One can buy one equipment after another. The good thing with the gym whatever you buy will be used for many years, “he says.

A cost effective way for many companies is to outsource the services.

“We have spoken to the gyms in Nairobi and they have given us a discounted rate for our members, “he says.

However, Mr Maina says while there is a growing number of companies making and continuing the investment in fitness employees still lack the need to make use of the facilities.

“Many companies pay for gyms for their staff but they do not exercise. It is not only about having access to it is also having the knowledge on how you should utilize the facility,” he said.

He says working out has more benefits besides looking good and improving physical health.

“We can save about 40 percent in expenses in Kenya. You will not be sick. Most people are living on drugs and not curative just to manage, “he says.

Across much of the rest of the globe he says workplace wellness is a major concern with Brazil, America among countries with advanced systems.

“In Brazil every estate has public fields. Also in America there are public golf courses. Korea and Singapore are doing quite well. Most countries out there have put a lot of emphasis in humanizing the work place.”

“We have to look at how we will get Kenyans to understand why it is important to live an active life.