In-house classes and workshops support employee wellness

Corporate Event Planning

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Emily Jade sits at the head of a conference table. As a group of 10 people, dressed in work attire, enter the room and take their seats around the table with her, she observes some midday tension and perhaps some hesitancy in the faces of those at the table. She thanks them all for being there before leading the group through a set of deep breathing exercises to begin a 30-minute office yoga session.

The owner of Milwaukee-based yoga business Tiger Yoga, Jade has designed a series of classes specifically for professionals in an office setting who may spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk, in meetings or working at a computer. Companies can hire her to teach these in-house classes to their employees before, during or after the workday.

Emily Jade

Jade’s classes focus on simple movements and stretching of the back, neck, face, eyes, hands and feet – parts of the body that often experience pain or tension due to workday stress. She believes these techniques can help professionals to de-stress and support their mental and physical health, without even leaving their desks.

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“Everyone wants to remember better, stay organized, have clarity and have perspective,” Jade said. “You can induce that by de-stressing and making space for your brain to work better. The superpower of yoga is it creates a heightened awareness of everything around you – feeling calm, yet powerful – and I think that’s what people want.”

Through her business, Jade currently works with four Milwaukee-area companies, teaching 30- to 60-minute sessions on a weekly basis. To her corporate clients, she markets the numerous mental benefits of yoga – reducing anxiety, staying calm, enhancing mood, maintaining focus –that are crucial to office productivity.

She officially launched Tiger Yoga last summer after working for several years at various local studios and as an independent contractor for a fitness company, teaching classes for employees at large companies. Jade still works as an independent contractor for gyms such as Monkey Bar Gym in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

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Jeffrey Winzenried, owner of Monkey Bar Gym, also has taught fitness classes remotely and as an independent contractor for employees at The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. and Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. Eventually, this work led him to open his gym in 2013.

Through Monkey Bar, Winzenried continues to offer customized wellness classes to employees at various local companies and organizations. Certified in natural training and plant-based nutrition, Winzenried gives workshops on topics ranging from strength training to clean eating and believes that workplace wellness is crucial to productivity.

“If it’s all about work and there’s no balance, I think people can get burnt out,” he said.

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A group from St. Luke’s Medical Center and Milwaukee VA Medical Center at a Monkey Bar Gym fitness workshop.

In-house office yoga, fitness or nutrition classes are some of the various wellness-based events and services companies can provide to support the health and wellbeing of their employees.

And as wellness – in its many forms – becomes more prevalent in corporate settings, companies such as Bader Rutter & Associates Inc. are constantly finding new ways to help employees be more “well.”

“A healthy, happy employee is a good employee,” said Elena Davis, human resources specialist at Bader Rutter. “The more we can improve our talents’ lives outside of work, the more they will be able to focus on work when they are here.”

Bader Rutter, which moved its headquarters last year from Brookfield to its current location at 1433 N. Water St. in downtown Milwaukee, has an entire health and wellness team that heads wellness efforts for the office’s 275 employees.

Davis works with the team, made up of about 12 to 15 employees from a cross-section of departments, to help organize, promote and execute in-house events ranging from boot camp workout classes, to nutrition presentations, to a free massage day.

A meditation class at Bader Rutter.

When planning these events, the team is guided by five areas of wellness that, based on a survey, Bader Rutter employees value the most: nutrition, fitness, mental health, financial health and helping others.

“It’s important to look at the individual,” said Emily Hoeft, a senior monitoring specialist and a health and wellness team leader. “Not everyone wants to do the same walk for charity event at the same time every year. Everyone has unique interests and so we try to make (the events) unique to our agency, but also the individuals within our agency.”

Yoga classes and meditation sessions during lunch and boot camp workouts after work are some of the weekly class offerings that are popular among employees. In addition, outside experts are often brought in to Bader Rutter to give presentations and workshops about healthy habits and practices. During a recent presentation, employees visited a nearby grocery store and were given tips on how to shop for healthy foods.

Every other Thursday, a massage therapist is available for employees to purchase 10-minute massages and each quarter, as a wellness incentive, Bader Rutter treats its employees to a free massage day.

Regardless of the event, Davis said the wellness opportunities available at Bader Rutter are the company’s way of showing how much it values its employees.

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