How to start an exercise club at work

How to start an exercise club at work

Have you broken your New Year’s resolution to stay active? OK, who hasn’t? Exercising isn’t always fun, but it promotes a healthy lifestyle which is beneficial for anyone. Showing up is the first step, but it can be hard to commit long term. It can be easier to take those first steps with a coworker by your side. You’ll feel less intimidated, and you and your coworker will motivate each other to workout.

An exercise club at work can be a convenient way to implement physical activity into your busy day, before, during, or after work. Taking time for yourself and your well-being while balancing your work schedule will be valuable to both your body and mind.

Here are ways to get your coworkers, and others in your office building to join an exercise club:

  1. Advertise it as a club for any fitness level

    No one likes to feel like they’re standing out when joining any group activity, so advertise your exercise club for any fitness level – from walkers to marathon runners to people who never work out.

    You may work in a small office where a flyer in the breakroom will suffice, but for those in a multi-office building, check with the building manager about sending out a mass email to all tenants. It doesn’t hurt to post a flyer by the elevators too! By making your exercise group for all fitness levels, you’re creating the opportunity for co-workers to lean on each other and get others to join. People are more willing to join a group activity when they can bring a friend with them.

    “Hey, Jules. Did you hear about the new exercise club in the building? It’s for all fitness levels. Come check it out with me!” This will guarantee a good turnout.

  2. Work out the logistics

    Plan out your exercise group by first deciding how many days a week you plan on meeting and what types of exercises you’ll offer. You’ll want to take a survey to get an idea of what type of exercise club people are interested in. You can start with one day a week while you work out the details. Eventually you may have enough participants that you can extend to two days a week and different meeting times. The idea is to build an exercise community and get people to work out when it’s most convenient for them.

    Make all fitness levels feel comfortable by warming up together. Whether it’s a light jog, or group stretching, make sure everyone is in it together at the beginning. For the first few meetings you’ll probably want everyone to work out together, so plan a fairly straightforward workout that includes the basics (strength training, stretches, cardio). Each time you will get a better feel of what everyone is there for. The goal is to get a large enough turn out for people to break out into groups and exercise according to their own plan. For example, following the warmup, everyone can then tailor their workout to their fitness level– runners can go out for a few miles, walkers can walk, those who want to work on core can do a series of core exercises, etc.

    Once the group has grown, you can schedule different workout times–a morning and evening group. Some people prefer to work out after work, so they aren’t sweaty beginning their day. However, for those that want to get their workout done and get going with their day, provide a suggested “go-to gym essentials” list for those who do not have the opportunity to shower after their workout. Deodorant, baby wipes, and face wash are a must!

  3. Pick a meeting spot close to work

    People are coming to work anyway, so pick a meeting spot close to work. Maybe even meet at work. That way people can leave things in their office space or car then head out for a workout. This may not be practical for office spaces in downtown areas surrounded by buildings. Get in contact with the management of your office building and see about possibly using some unused office space.

    For those who can’t make it out before or after work, encourage people to make time during lunch and knock out a few exercises. Something is better than nothing.

  4. Set a post-workout meeting spot for a snack

    Exercising is more fun with a reward at the end. Grab a coffee or healthy drink with your exercise group after your workout. This gives coworkers and those who work in the same building a chance to get to know one another. The more comfortable people are in their surroundings, the more willing they are to show up consistently. When starting an exercise club, you want to encourage an active environment, but you also want to build relationships, make new friends and network.

  5. Join races and other activities as a team

    Take your exercise club away from work for fun activities on the weekends. Find an event and fund raise for a good cause or get competitive with each other for fun.  People are more likely to sign up for a run/walk, obstacle course, dance class, etc. as a team than individually. You can get customized t-shirts made for the group and make a day out of it. Encourage members to bring their families. You’re building what will hopefully be a long-term exercise group with a great reputation that will continue to grow. Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and encourage everyone to do their best. Teamwork is about supporting every individual, not just the fittest.

Some may not want to join. That’s fine. We all have our own comfort levels. Offer options to get people working out on their own time and schedule, even in their office. If at the end you accomplish more people getting out there and exercising, then you’ve succeeded. You’re not trying to accomplish an exercise empire, but instead spread the word of a healthier lifestyle that works with your work schedule.