Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Out of the Chair, Into the Gym
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Out of the Chair, Into the Gym

Employers finding ways to get the reluctant active

Patrick Sullivan - January 15th, 2014  

How do you get the deskbound off their butts and into the gym? It’s a question on the minds of trainers at Iron Works, the employeeonly fitness center at Hagerty in Traverse City.

The classic car insurer has invested perhaps more than any other northern Michigan workplace in employee health.

Of course all workplaces have a group of staffers who are active workout types, those first to take advantage of workplace fitness incentives. But what about those who prefer to curl up on the couch and have a snack?


Hagerty has invested a lot in employee fitness, paying entry fees for running races throughout the year, whether it’s a $25 5K or an $80 triathlon. The company pays workers who forgo a parking space to keep their bicycle going.

But the centerpiece of Hagerty’s drive for fitness is Iron Works, a gym that opened around a year ago and was designed to appeal to a larger segment of the workforce.

One of the strategies at Iron Works has been to offer fitness classes scheduled throughout the day.

“We were encouraged to do as many beginning and intermediate classes as possible, because we’d be happiest if the most sedentary were being attracted to the gym,” said Doug Peterson, the trainer who runs Iron Works and his own trainers’ gym, Rock Bottom.

Peterson helped design Iron Works to entice the reluctant.

“It was kind of a balance -- did you put in too much really intimidating-looking equipment?” Peterson said. “You want to make the gym-goers happy, but not intimidate those people who have never ever done a class before.”

He also said he hired trainers who would be friendly and encouraging to people unfamiliar with the gym environment.

Peterson believes Hagerty has seen success in getting people into the gym who otherwise wouldn’t have gone.

Iron Works saw 9,742 visits in 2013, 303 of which were “first visits.” Seventy five percent of those – roughly a third of the workforce -- came five times or more.


More than half of visits to Iron Works were for fitness classes, as opposed to people coming to the gym to use the equipment on their own.

The classes, which include boot camp, indoor cycling, and all-around fitness, meet in the modern, equipment-filled trainers’ gym located behind frosted glass along Lake Ave.

Peterson believes the small group training classes can entice people into gyms because they offer a comfortable environment to learn how to exercise.

The strategy worked for Michelle Ayers, a Hagerty employee who had in the past wanted to join a gym, but the inconvenience enabled her to talk herself out of it.

Ayers said the fitness classes have made it easier for her to make exercise a regular part of her routine.

“You can just have somebody telling you what you need to do and you don’t have to think about it,” she said. “Somebody said to me yesterday, ‘I love the classes, because if it was just a gym, I would never go.’ And it’s so true, because you have somebody there to keep you accountable.” Peterson believes small group fitness classes can help anyone work harder in the gym. “I know that when I travel, I’m going to work harder if I’m in a class. I may know how to do a lot, but I think for the most part, you are always going to push yourself a lot harder if you’re in a class,” Peterson said. “There’s always somebody a little less fit that is being motivated by you, or a little more fit that you are motivated by, and that’s kind of the beauty of the small group setting.”


Lyndsay Douglass, wellness coordinator at Munson Medical Center, said she thinks a lot about how to get the not-naturally-inclined into fitness programs.

Employees who are committed to health and activity are recruited in each department to encourage their coworkers to get active, she said.

“We look at how we can be both motivating and inspiring to those people to make that first step,” Douglass said.

Last June, Munson sponsored a 5K run for employees, a race meant to encourage the ones who hadn’t thought about running or jogging before.

It was free to employees and their guests and saw 700 participants. She said a third to a half of participants had never thought of doing a 5K before.

Douglass said the idea was to make it non-intimidating and make people feel like it was OK to walk. With so many people there just to give it a try, the mood of the event was relaxed and noncompetitive, she said.

Munson employees are eligible for discounts at fitness centers and yoga studios throughout the area.

But there is also an emphasis to get employees into groups to exercise. Munson hosts Zumba classes on site to make them cheaper and easier for employees to attend and to make them part of the social life at work.

“I think it’s huge to have that social support,” Douglass said.

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