April 16, 2020 —One of the many staff benefits offered for those working at Kendal at Oberlin are the free staff wellness opportunities offered to employees.
Employees can use the swimming pool and exercise equipment in their free time, plus attend classes designed just for them. In the past couple of years, the fitness center staff has offered a variety of classes for employees, from meditation and journaling to fitness and exercise.
Currently fitness specialists Danna Mitchell and Saun Howard each lead a 45-minute class for employees. On Tuesdays, Saun’s class focuses on strength training and cardio, and on Thursdays Danna teaches yoga. The classes start at 7:15 a.m.
“We do all types of yoga, including hot yoga and water yoga. When it’s nice outside, we do yoga in the garden,” Danna says.
Fitness Class Offerings Vary
Saun says her class is never the same. One class may involve workout stations, another weights or partner work. “I like it when they groan because it means I’m doing my job,” she laughs.
The fitness staff decided to offer a combination of aerobic and relaxation exercises based on staff surveys.
“We have two extremes. Some staff run around all day and they need something relaxing, and we have others who sit most of the day and need hard-core exercises,” explains Jill Tvaroha, Wellness Coordinator.
For employees with mainly desk jobs, Saun recommends exercises they can do at their desk, such as stretching, marching in place and wall push-ups. “You don’t need equipment and a lot of space,” she says.
Depending on department or job, Kendal staff members have various work schedules and lunch breaks, which make it challenging to find a convenient class time for all staff.
“We’re trying to see what we can offer at other time slots for housekeepers, for instance, who start at 7 a.m. and have lunch at 11:30 a.m.,” Saun says.
All staff members are encouraged to use the fitness/relaxation room when a class is not in session. The room is very conducive for relaxing, with one wall of windows that look out on the courtyard garden.
“We have a huge DVD library on all sorts of topics – meditation, tai-chi, aerobic workouts – and they’re all about 20 minutes long. We encourage people to use the DVDs, and bring a workout buddy with them,” Jill says.
Staff Can Recommend Topics for Wellness Programs
Staff is always encouraged to recommend class topics to the fitness staff. Currently on the “interest” list are aromatherapy, breath work, an after-work water class, a weight loss class and journaling.
Jill ran a journaling class last year, which resulted in “great conversation and sharing. I’d like to expand journaling and work with the Creative Arts Therapy staff,” she says.
Kendal’s nutritionist Sue Campbell is a regular at both the Tuesday and Thursday classes. “We’ve discussed adding a weekly weigh-in,” she says.
Sue also wants to offer nutritional classes for employees, on such topics as healthy breakfasts and meatless meals.
“They’re finding that diet has a much bigger impact on weight loss. Exercise helps maintain weight, but diet plays a bigger role in losing weight,” she says.
Holding Each Other Accountable
Sue says having access to free classes is a wonderful benefit for employees. “We kind of keep each other accountable. We’ll pass each other in the hall and say ‘Where were you this morning?’” she says.
Sue also pushes herself. Taped on her mirror is a note: “No Excuses.”
Some employees, either because of preference or schedule, like to pursue their fitness activities solo. The fitness staff helps them with that approach too. They will do a fitness assessment, design a personal program, and give feedback, if requested, on how to meet goals. They will also arrange for a “fitness buddy” with a fellow employee for support and accountability.
Regarding staff benefits like these, it is Kendal’s philosophy that “Kendal must be a good place to work if it is to be a good place to live and a good partner in service.” If you’d like to work for an organization committed to maintaining a a high quality work experience, click here to explore current employment opportunities.
Photos by JoDee Palmer
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