James Shillaker introduces his company’s healthy employee propositions


Can you tell us more about GymFlex and your employee benefit proposition?

At Incorpore we believe the best place to get an all-body workout is in the gym. Our two gym propositions, GymFlex (salary deductions) and MyGymDiscounts (direct debit) both offer corporate rates at more than 3,100 gyms, health clubs, leisure centres, yoga studios and outdoor fitness clubs. The idea is that no matter where your employees live or work, there is a local facility where they can use and enjoy our savings. Companies that have a hugely dispersed employee population are restricted from using any one gym operator because they do not have the full UK coverage. It is almost unheard of these days that gym membership benefits are only offered to a select few employees or a privileged office within the company.

Why should employers invest in employee gym membership?

The benefits of a more active and fitter workforce are widely known. Not just in terms of productivity, absenteeism and morale but in general health too. A lack of physical activity is the fundamental cause of obesity, which in turn dramatically raises the risk of diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, sleep apnoea and type 2 diabetes. If we don’t invest in our employees’ fitness we will have to start investing in their sickness.

What are the benefits for the employee – and how can employers engage and communicate with their staff?

Individuals are not necessarily always focused on their long-term health. A regular and structured exercise programme can help employees live a better everyday life.

Brain power: Improved physical energy levels allow our brain to stay more alert and focused and increase our productivity levels.

Happy heart: Exercise increases our cardiovascular health. This gives us greater endurance, making it easier to do our daily tasks.

Mood: Exercise can give us an emotional lift and de-stress. Just a 30-minute workout in a gym can release chemicals (endorphins) in the brain that will leave you feeling happier, relaxed and more confident.

Sleep well: Exercise helps you to get a better night’s sleep. A quality night’s sleep makes you feel more refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Social: Regularly exercising allows you to meet new people, participate in events and try new activities. Instead of staying focused on weight loss or general health, employers should consider some of the lifestyle benefits of looking and feeling better.

What advancements are you planning for the benefit over the coming months?

Have you ever wondered why the gyms aren’t full? Often the messages from the gyms like ‘new year, new you’ or ‘beach body confidence’ or ‘no joining fee’ have run their course. Employees have heard those same messages for 25 years and it has either not registered or they have chosen to ignore it.

We recently launched a new programme called My Active Discounts offering employees a range of activity-related products and services that will help them link in to a more active and hopefully fitter lifestyle.

My Active Discounts focuses on nutrition, home fitness equipment, sports and fitness fashion, activity breaks and holidays, relaxation and UK running events. It was designed to give sedentary employees a first step towards becoming more active. Simple things like a pair of trainers, a fitness tracker, fresh food recipes, a new bike or a GoPro might be the trigger for them to think about their overall activity levels. All this combined with a gym benefit it could be their time to make that healthy lifestyle change.

Psychology is a very important factor in personal fitness. There is no magical ‘join a gym’ button. 

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