Boston Workplaces Are Getting Healthier With Corporate Fitness

From yoga to bootcamp, offices are jumping on the exercise bandwagon.

Office Yoga

One of Jenna Hill’s corporate yoga classes. Photo provided to

When a string of studies came out last year broadcasting how bad sitting is for your health, office workers everywhere panicked. But now, a new trend is making desk jobs seem a little bit less deadly: corporate fitness.

Going way beyond treadmill desks and exercise ball chairs, workplace fitness has become a full-fledged industry. Massachusetts now awards a 25 percent tax credit to businesses that implement office wellness programs, and companies are taking note. From standard perks like gym reimbursements to more creative offerings, like corporate sports leagues, office wellness is booming.

“More people are attuned to trying to do things that are active and fun,” says Patty DesMaisons of Boston Ski & Sports Club, an adult sports league program that includes roughly 100 corporate teams. “Maybe they could go to the gym, but it’s more fun to get together with a group and play a sport than it is to go to the gym and work out on your own.”

Even people who don’t want to play a sport no longer have to go to the gym to exercise—they just need to go to work. Brands like Reebok offer on-site gyms and fitness classes, and even businesses without enormous spatial and financial resources are jumping on the bandwagon through local companies like The Active Workplace, which brings on-site fitness classes, taught by professional instructors, to offices.

“A lot of people sit in a cubicle all day, and it’s my job to come pump them up and hype them up, and it wakes them up,” says owner Jessica Arber. “This just gets them active and laughing and having a blast, and then they’re refreshed when they go back to work.”

Though Arber specializes in high-intensity classes like bootcamp, The Active Workplace also offers yoga and cycling to offices. “Companies are either into going all-out and they don’t mind people sweating through the work day, or they want a nice, calm experience,” she says. “They’re both popular, and I think a good combination is ideal.”

Individual instructors have also noticed the demand for exercise in the office. Jenna Hill, a yoga instructor who teaches at studios such as South Boston Yoga, is one of a number of Boston yogis offering desk-side classes. “I used to work a regular 9-to-5 job in a corporate environment, and I can tell you any chance I had to get up from my desk, I was all over it,” Hill remembers. “I am so happy to be able to come into a workplace and offer such a wonderful opportunity for the employees to come together and get away from their day a little.”

Hill currently teaches weekly classes at four offices in Boston and Quincy, and says the response from employees has been overwhelmingly positive. “One of my students last week thanked me after class, saying that it was like a mini vacation every time she takes class,” she says. “Does it get any better than that?”