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Bahram Akradi, founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life

One of the things that people often assume about Life Time is that we have it all figured out when it comes to how we support our team members’ health and well-being. It’s a fair assumption since we’re in the business of healthy living — and in many ways, it’s an accurate one.

More than 15 years ago, for instance, before it was illegal to smoke in public spaces, we banned smoking in our facilities. The science on the ill effects of smoking was clear, and we needed to walk the talk of behaviors that would positively influence the health of our team as a whole.

Initially, I remember seeing large groups gathered outside the office to smoke at various times throughout the day. But those groups dwindled over time, whether because of the inconvenience, the state-enacted public-smoking bans that came later, or a combination. Regardless, it was the right decision at that time. Over the years, we’ve taken a similarly proactive approach to developing and implementing health-­improvement initiatives. Still, we’re facing the same challenges as many organizations across the country, including skyrocketing healthcare costs and the negative effects of the modern workplace.

The latter can undermine all aspects of our well-being in subtle yet significant ways. Sedentariness, for example, is associated with a host of short- and long-term health problems. Yet many team members, especially at Life Time’s corporate office, are deskbound or in meetings for good chunks of the day. And then there’s the digital component: Thanks (or not) to technology, many people never disconnect when the workday ends.

We know, however, that when employees are supported in setting good boundaries and prioritizing key healthy-living habits — getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, moving regularly, de-stressing, nurturing social connections — they’re more focused, engaged, and productive.

This is good for business, too. But healthy behaviors can be tough to maintain in our fast-paced, entrepreneurial environment, even for many of our health-motivated team members.

Which is why it’s more important than ever for us to uphold a culture that supports their healthy habits: When their needs and ambitions are being championed, it also benefits our club members.

We do this at Life Time in a few simple ways, and these are tactics people can advocate for at work, regardless of position:

  • Eliminate unhealthy temptations. Clearing junk food out of the work environment makes unhealthy eating more difficult. At Life Time, we no longer offer soda or candy vending machines, but rather stock water and other beverages that support our Good Food Rules.
  • Encourage movement. To combat inactivity, we make it possible for our team members to exercise during the workday, when it’s convenient for them. If there’s a 10:30 a.m. yoga class on Thursday mornings that someone loves, we try our best to avoid scheduling meetings during it.
  • Create active social opportunities. Several years ago, we began encouraging our employees to participate in athletic events as teams, which built camaraderie and healthy competition. Whether it’s a 5K, a group fitness class, or a quick walk over lunchtime, melding activity with social interactions can inspire people to stick with a routine.
  • Offer options for working remotely. In late 2018 we introduced telecommuting for our corporate team members, giving them greater autonomy over their work–life balance. This requires us to provide technology that effectively supports remote collaboration and communication.
  • Address the body and mind. Holis­tic wellness encompasses physical and psychological well-being. We’re in the early stages of testing a comprehensive and inclusive service for our team members (and eventually members) that will acknowledge the mind–body connection.

As new challenges arise, we’ll continue to create healthier work experiences to meet the needs — always with the mindset that a healthier, more positive work experience is better for all of us.

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