How to Create Wellness-Based Programs, Part 1


Jasmine Jafferali, MPH, ACE-CPT, is the program coordinator and instructor for the Online Professional Certificate in women’s exercise training and wellness, an interactive online Web-based certificate program designed to ensure the development of safe and effective exercise programs for women by personal trainers, allied health/medical and fitness professionals, and the general public. She has a diverse fitness background, having worked in campus recreation, corporate wellness and the commercial health club setting. Her practical experience in wellness programming gives her a distinctive opportunity to teach wellness to other fitness professionals. She also advocates on bringing the fitness and medical community together through wellness and preventative programming. Jafferali specializes in women’s health and wellness, focusing on pre- and postnatal fitness and is a master trainer for Healthy Moms Fitness and Resist-a-ball. You may contact her at [email protected].

Wellness is a hot topic. The wellness industry is expected to be the next trillion-dollar industry within the next five years. With health care rising 10 percent each year for the past several years, many organizations are working to implement and develop wellness programs for their company. In fact, more than 50 percent of U.S. companies are operating corporate wellness programs today.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for every 100 employees in this country:

  • 27 have cardiovascular disease
  • 24 have high blood pressure
  • 50 or more have high cholesterol
  • 26 are overweight by 20 percent or more
  • 10 are heavy drinkers
  • 59 do not get adequate exercise
  • 44 suffer from stress

Wellness programs for the corporate world are an opportunity for every health club. There is a need for wellness because of the health care crisis we are battling each day. Health care in our country focuses more on treating the sick instead of preventing the disease through preventative care.

Wellness programs offer much more than just educating our clients. Programs offer an opportunity to change an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one. There are many ways you can incorporate wellness programs into your facility. You can offer a corporate wellness division, in which your health club offers employee wellness programs for organizations, or you can just simply add more wellness-based programs for your members.

However you choose to add wellness, each facility has to decide what wellness will mean in their organization. Being “well” is more than just going to the gym—it is getting a sports massage, going to a meditation class to relieve stress or attending a wellness seminar. It is giving members a place to relieve stress and get healthy through other means than just exercise. (To read about the seven dimensions of wellness, go to:

Deciding what wellness will mean in your facility may be “going green” and offering recycling bins throughout your club, which would be one aspect of wellness. Once you decide what wellness will mean in your facility, it is important to have a team of people that is devoted completely to wellness. Once you have your team in place, management will have to determine its target audience before programming begins.

Target populations can be broken up into different categories:

  • Children’s activities (6 months to 15 years)
  • Special populations (prenatal, Baby Boomers, gender specific, etc.)
  • Athletic programs (running/walking, triathlon and marathon training, etc.)
  • Family programming (“Mommy and Me” classes, kids camps, self-defense classes, etc.)

You may even go as far as surveying your members to see what it is they are seeking in their health club. A good opportunity to do this is when they first join. However, you can also survey your members through e-mail and have it automatically calculated to see where the interest is. Having this information can be important for the team that is responsible for the wellness division of your organization. It will help them coordinate wellness programs more effectively and give them a good base to begin programming.

Another good place to begin programming is to look up national health observances ( During each month or week, there is a different health initiative. For example, the third week of January is Healthy Weight Week, a good week to launch a weight-loss program. September is Cholesterol Awareness Month, which is a good time to offer cholesterol screenings. The Web site also provides sponsoring organizations and contact information for materials. Creating programs based around these health observances is a great way to educate and bring awareness to your members.

Be sure to set goals for yourself when it comes to your wellness programming. This is essential when creating the program and judging the success of the program. There are several different types of goals, including:

  • Strategic/innovation goal: Focuses on the long-term strategy of achieving program results.
  • Financial goal: Focuses on how a program can generate better profitability for the club.
  • Results goal: Defines immediate results as an outcome.
  • Process/milestones goal: A large goal that has been divided into smaller measurable goals.
  • Day-to-day activity goal: Not related to a project, this is an activity that is part of your job.

You may use one or all of these goals as part of your program planning. Once your goal is set, create objectives that define the goal in measurable terms. A typical program has five to 12 objectives for each goal. If you have fewer objectives, your program may not have been thoroughly developed. If you have more than 12, you may have too much detail. As a rule, there should be at least two objectives for each component of the program

Next month, we will discuss how to put together a complete wellness program, including creating a marketing plan and program evaluations.

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