Trend alert: companies basically bribing their employees (opens in new tab) to exercise with incentives such as Apple Watches, money, insurance credits, and not dying early from sitting and eating nonstop (opens in new tab). On the one hand, lower healthcare costs. On the other hand, your boss gets readings from your fitness tracker and will probably be very concerned when she finds out you've walked the equivalent of .000000001 flights of stairs today. (No Sephora gift card for you.)
Here, six fitness experts share their opinions on this creepy if well-intentioned movement. Prepare yourselves—the walking meetings are coming.
Tiffany Cruikshank (L.Ac, MAOM, RYT), author of 'Meditate Your Weight (opens in new tab),' available April
"I think it's a great idea. Everyone needs a little push or incentive from time to time. I just wish it had a way to include things like meditation and yoga that we know are so beneficial for stress reduction and its health implications. More and more research is coming out on how these directly affect our health, and even the insurance companies are taking note."
Drew Logan, celebrity trainer and star of the upcoming NBC series 'Strong,' premiering April 13
"I understand the intention, but I question the approach. Getting someone to do something physically they do not want to do is borderline impossible. I think a team-building approach is best for corporate-mandated wellness. Group people together in teams of four or five and make it a friendly but rewarding competition. Make it fun. Create a 'draft' and set ongoing prizes and goals. Then create 'Game Days' where teams' results are measured and ranked, like an ongoing season. And honestly, there would be no better incentive than that of paid vacation time for your rankings. If people feel like they have to do this or else, it will never be a success long-term."
Leanne Jacobs, certified Pilates and yoga instructor, clinical nutritionist, author, holistic wealth expert, and creator of Beautiful Money (opens in new tab)
"The downside to corporate-mandated wellness programs with trackers is that they will likely lead to fear-based compliance, as well as adding to stress loads and adrenal fatigue. If motivation isn't generated from within, the employee is unlikely to create lasting change. The key is to create a work environment where employees are self-motivated to treat their bodies like temples. Educate them, inspire them, and cheer employees toward wealth and wellbeing. Toss the monitoring programs, micromanaging, and 'stressercise,' and bring harmonious health programs into the workplace."
Lacey Stone (opens in new tab), celebrity trainer
"I'm absolutely for company-mandated fitness. America is becoming the most unhealthy country in the world—something has got to give. I don't think it should be mandatory, and I don't think companies should roll it out until the privacy component is ironed out, but I do think employees should be rewarded for staying heathy. It's been statistically proven that people who lead healthier lives are more successful, less stressed, better employees, happier, and live longer."
Dempsey Marks, fitness expert, yoga instructor, and co-creator of the PreGame Fit (opens in new tab) fitness/lifestyle program
"The core values and idea behind it are positive, but there is definitely a gray area when it comes to how involved your employer or company is in your life. When it becomes mandatory, companies are overstepping. Why? Everyone's body and needs are different. And activity tracking is only one measure of an individual's health and wellness. It doesn't take into account their diet, how much sleep they get, or even certain types of exercise (like weight-lifting and yoga). Keeping these programs optional and accounting for other measure of health as well would improve employees' levels of fitness and overall health as well."
Jim Loperfido, Founder of SOLACE New York (opens in new tab)
"In my experience as a CrossFit coach and gym owner in NYC, short-term gimmicks like Fitbits and Apple Watches do not engender sustainable and successful health habits. Once the novelty of these products wears off and the individual feels like they are engaging in an activity they have to do rather than want to do, they find themselves at the starting block again.
Corporate wellness programs will serve their employees best if they create a culture that offers not just wellness tools (such as fitness trackers), but also access to a social environment invested in their goals. If a company is encouraging steps on a fitness tracker but only offering pizza at company lunches, they are sabotaging the greater vision. Companies can provide real benefit to their employees through opportunities to be a part of a fun and engaging fitness environment rather than simply 'tracking steps,' which leaves many employees feeling like Big Brother is watching."
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Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at MarieClaire.com. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.
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