5 steps to starting a regular fitness break at work

March 6, 2012

In a previous MisFits column, Vicky Hallett shared experts’ advice on starting an “Instant Recess” program at work. Below, she reports on how far she has come at Express. Can you see yourself trying something similar?

1. Get the boss on board.

Express editor Dan Cacavarro showed his support by twisting and punching with the rest of the staff when Denise Austin came to visit. And since then, he hasn’t batted an eye as we’ve organized a variety of odd activities right outside his office door, including an homage to the Presidential Fitness Challenge and a Whitney Houston dance party. But while his permission has been appreciated, I’d also like to see some more participation. Dan, I challenge you to the sit-and-reach test!

2. Survey co-workers.

My survey turned up some conflicts. (“I really want to dance.” “Anything but dance.”) But everyone seemed to agree that midafternoon was when the break was most needed, which is how we settled on 3. I’ve also learned you can’t completely trust people’s responses. The answers helped get the program started, but the better data is coming from watching what people are actually doing.

3. Recruit a team.

Copy chief Aimee Goodwin rounds up the troops in the newsroom and runs recess when I’m not in the office. But I would like to recruit a guy to take a leadership role and help make the activities coed. (This is a common problem in other Instant Recess programs.)

4. Start small.

One of the reasons plank o’clock has been so successful is that you can do it in almost any outfit, and it’s scalable. Some people can’t hold the pose for the entire 60 seconds — yet. But everyone can join in.

5. But think big.

I wanted a showy kickoff, and Austin definitely delivered. Now I wonder how to generate that kind of excitement again and keep the program fresh. We’re off to a strong start, but we also have to keep moving forward.

Ideas to get the office moving

Hourly minute of movement: Each hour, everyone in the office stops working to stretch arms overhead, lean side to side, twist at the waist, kick and punch.

Stand and deliver: Borrow a challenge from the Motley Fool and have everyone stand every time they answer or make a phone call, or write or receive an e-mail.

Group activity: Establish a break at the same time every day when everyone does the warm-up segment of a workout DVD, goes for a walk or dances to music.

Vicky Hallett

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