The United States Sports Academy Fitness Program
General Benefits of a Work-site Fitness Program
Today, many corporations and small business in the United States, Japan, Korea and other international markets incorporate “Wellness and Employee Fitness Programs” in their organizations, because they all recognize the benefits of employees being physically fit. Based on many studies, the benefits of these programs may include the increase of employee’s fitness, productivity, energy, and morale, and decrease of stress, job-related tension, health insurance cost, turnover rate, and absenteeism (Chang, 2003; Shephard, 1999; Lechner., de Vries, & Adriannsen, 1997; Parker, 1995; Mathes, McGivern, & Schneider, 1992; Hunt, 1992; Oden, Crouse, & Reynolds, 1989) . The United States Sports Academy, an educational institution that promotes the values of health and fitness thru the Study of Sport Sciences, exemplifies thru their Employee Fitness Program, the sincere desire for their employees to have the opportunity to practice what they preach and make daily physical activity a part of their lifestyle.
Parameters to Consider for Program Implementation
While implementing a fitness testing and training program, some important issues must be carefully considered. The Employer/Employee Relationship is the key to Success. Employees can sometimes feel timid and unmotivated to participate in a physical testing because they assume that their organizations may view them in a negative light due to a substandard physical performance or health condition. Employees may not be motivated to participate if they think their organizations are not fully supportive of their efforts to engage in some sort of daily physical activity. This support is present when the employer provides what is needed for proper implementation of the program (i.e., providing adequate facilities and equipment, accommodate employees’ work schedules and keeping flexible.). The biggest challenge of a work-site fitness program is to sustain long-term interest and enthusiasm. This can only come about by keeping the program flexible enough to be fun and enjoyable, and structured enough to see the results of ones’ efforts. Both Employer and Employees must realize that the benefits of physical activity can take some time before any effect taken place (Hill, Glassford, Burgess, & Rudnicki, 1988).
Organizations must be aware of the legal ramifications while administering employee fitness programs. The organizations must realize there are certain facility standards and guidelines (Eickhoff-Shemek, 1998) and should attempt to prevent litigation regarding negligence and workers’ compensation in an effort to maximize the benefits of their work-site fitness programs.
The Strengths and Features of the USSA Employee Program
Like most of the employee fitness programs (Shephard, 1999), the United States Sports Academy’s fitness testing procedure covers a variety of employees’ health and fitness components, such as aerobic fitness, BMI, percent of body fat, flexibility, heart rates, blood pressure, and muscular strength. All of the tests can be easily self-monitored by the employee themselves and are considered as acceptable protocols for the general fitness assessment that are endorsed by various fitness organizations such as the YMCA (Golding, 2000), the American College of Sports Medicine (Eickhoff-Shemek, 1998), the American Council on Exercise (ACE, 2002) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA, 2002).
The authors believe that there are many direct advantages that the United States Sports Academy presents in order to operate a successful work-site fitness program. First, the Academy’s Exercise Facility is well furnished and has a variety of equipment and facilities for the employees. Secondly, the Academy has a fully equipped Human Performance Lab to conduct state of the art fitness evaluations along with a professionally qualified faculty/staff to conduct and advise the employees about their individualized programs. Finally, the Employer/ Employee Relationship is strongly structured for success. With the support from the executive level, the employees are more willingly to be involved because they perceive that the leaders of the institution are concerned about their employees’ health and wellbeing.
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