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Bringing fitness to nonprofits as part of a wellness offering to employees

When I worked at an organization serving youth experiencing homelessness, my days and weeks were unpredictable. I never really knew what my schedule was going to look like. Twelve or fourteen hour days were the norm and weeks where I was on-call I often spent overnights and parts of my weekends at the residential facility responding to crisis or covering shifts when staff members called off last minute. Self-care was difficult to prioritize, if not impossible at times. If I wanted to work out, I had to make sure to get to the gym at 5:30am before work, because I was either too exhausted after work or my day would stretch on much longer than planned. This all contributed to my struggle to find balance in my life and to effectively navigate emotional and physical wellness.

I’ve since left the daily grind of working in a nonprofit and I offer consulting services to those doing the hard work on the ground. But I haven’t forgotten my days in the trenches! In fact, I think often about that time and how my co-workers and I were exhausted. We carried with us the sense that our employer wasn’t prioritizing our wellbeing, amplifying experiences of burnout and not feeling valued.

Now, as a consultant bringing a variety of services to nonprofits, I’ve thought about how I can support the wellness of those doing the critical work. In addition to nonprofit consulting, I also teach group fitness and am passionate about using movement to address myriad aspects of our emotional and physical health. I’ve spent time recently thinking through my desire to bring together these two passions – nonprofit work and fitness.

My hope is to offer a new service to my nonprofit clients, one that would be accessible from both a budget and scheduling standpoint. I would like to offer exercise classes on-site (or at a nearby free community center) to nonprofit employees, ultimately offered to the staff by the nonprofit itself. The event could be a one-time activity as part of a retreat or staff wellness/self-care day, or part of an ongoing program that staff members can access and participate in regularly. The format, location, length and frequency would be agreed upon in advance with the goal of providing the most benefits to employees who are likely overworked and finding it difficult to care for themselves in all the ways they would like to. An added benefit is the element of fun! Group fitness has countless benefits but one that I like to tout personally is its ability to provide stress relief and a reduction in anxiety symptoms. It only takes 30 minutes and a great playlist!

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