OP Headlines: UCOP rolls out employee fitness program
If you suspect EVP Nathan Brostrom had a hand in the recent launch of WorkFit, an employee fitness program, you would be right.
The new lunchtime circuit strength training class, which started April 12th, was initially developed for UC Berkeley employees and is run by Devin Wicks, Director of Berkeley’s Fitness and Wellness Operations.
Brostrom suggested expanding the program to UCOP. Clearly, the idea appeals to employees – the initial five-week program had far more staff trying to sign up than the 25 people who could be accommodated.
Larry Wong, a program manager in the Office of Risk Services, helped bring WorkFit to UCOP. He said he is looking at ways to expand the program so that more employees can participate.
“We had so many people trying to sign up that we could probably double or triple it,” Wong said.
He said he is looking at whether it’s viable to add a second lunchtime section at the Franklin Building, and also whether the program could be held in the lobby area of the 2nd Floor auditorium at the Kaiser Building. Other options being considered are holding sessions after work at 5:00 PM.
WorkFit participants pay just $10 for the twice-per week sessions, which incorporate stretching, movement and strength training. The 50-minute program is currently offered Monday and Wednesday at noon, over a five-week period.
“For the price of a cup of coffee you get healthier,” Wong said.
The nominal fee doesn’t cover the full cost, but UCOP is covering the remainder with Be Smart About Safety funds. The money comes from Worker’s Compensation rebates as a result of reduced workplace injuries at UCOP. The Be Smart About Safety funds are earmarked for proactive programs that minimize workplace injuries and illnesses.
Prevention programs like WorkFit show clear benefits for improving worker health, so it’s an appropriate use of the money, Wong said. Workfit can help prevent injuries and illnesses, but can also help the University lower its health care premium costs, he said.
“A fit population has fewer illness and injuries,” he said. Not only are employees healthier and more energized, but the investment makes good economic sense.
“Studies show that for every dollar you spend on preventive workplace safety programs, you save $5 to $7 on costs down the road by preventing future injuries and illnesses.”