There are numerous reasons companies and organizations should want to enhance the wellness of their employees and members, noted Miller Chandler, owner of Nashville-based Foundation Wellness, LLC.
Improving productivity, reducing absenteeism, and lowering medical costs … not to mention genuine concern for the wellbeing of staff and colleagues … are all motivating factors for launching onsite programming. Chandler, who has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than two decades and serves as an adjunct wellness instructor at Belmont University, launched his company in 2015 to help employers who want to foster a healthy workplace culture create a program for sustainable change.
“Again and again, I’d hear the same story … everything was done remotely,” he said of many workplace wellness coaching services. “I wanted to do something that was more ‘boots on the ground’ where we would come to you.” Chandler continued, “I started Foundation Wellness because I could see the need for a more hands-on approach in the industry, one that relies less on remote monitoring and is more focused on personalized coaching.”
That said, he added with a laugh, there is also a Foundation Wellness app to support clients. “I’m not anti remote health coaching. I just think it should be used as a supplement to what you are doing in person rather than the other way around.” Having spent 18 years as fitness director at Belle Meade Country Club, he noted, “I know from my extensive experience that building personal relationships leads to much greater success for our clients.”
Chandler – who is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association – taps into the Middle Tennessee community of exercise physiologists, trainers, health coaches, yoga and Pilates instructors, and registered dietitians to provide personal expertise to clients. The company creates customized plans from a menu of services that includes onsite exercise classes, personal training, biometric screening, lunch-and-learn lectures, educational workshops, and nutrition consulting. “We can do everything from a structured wellness program we manage to à la carte menu options,” he said, adding health and wellness professionals also work with individuals one-on-one as needed or requested.
He noted Foundation Wellness takes a holistic approach with a focus on the seven dimensions of wellness – environmental, financial, physical, interpersonal, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. “Exercise and nutrition are the cornerstones of what we do, but they are all intertwined,” he explained.
Chandler said the nutrition component is key, and he works only with registered dietitians to help create that portion of programming for clients. Hope Anderson, a Vanderbilt-trained dietitian, works with both individual employees and the larger group to address the food component in a healthy lifestyle. The associate editor of Edible Nashville, Anderson helps clients recognize ‘delicious’ and ‘healthy’ are not mutually exclusive.
Another benefit of having Anderson work with individuals, Chandler continued, is that she can talk not only about weight loss goals but also the negative impact of skipping meals and of extreme calorie cutting on metabolism to help folks focus on smart, realistic goals. He said recent science has underscored problems with extreme deprivation diets and reality shows where people lose a lot of weight quickly.
“There’s a dose-response relationship here between the extreme weight loss programs and the hormones that curb hunger and affect metabolism. They’re getting the short-term success, but it’s really setting them up to fail over the long term,” he pointed out. “I would rather be the healthiest loser rather than the biggest loser.”
And he would also prefer to focus on wins … whether that is hitting a goal on a scale, finally perfecting a yoga pose, or simply taking an extra 1,000 steps in a day. Chandler noted an investment in wellness is one area of a corporate benefits program that actually pays dividends and is a classic win/win for both employees and employers.
One of the company’s first big clients was Bone McAllester Norton, PLLC. The law firm launched their corporate program with a yoga class. “Yoga is great because you can take 45 minutes out of your day and can do it without getting hot and sweaty. It really works great in the workplace,” Chandler said, adding that yoga not only provides a physical workout but is also great for stress relief.
It also demonstrates how exercise can be introduced in the workplace without a huge investment to create an onsite fitness facility. Chandler noted the class is held in unused space in Nashville City Center. Several participants wanted to incorporate an element of strength training and were interested in adding an after work offering so the team at Foundation Wellness created a fusion class to meet their needs.
Ultimately, Chandler would like to replicate his wellness company’s model in other cities, but for now he is focused on growing clientele and service options in Middle Tennessee. For more information on Foundation Wellness offerings, go online to fwnashville.com.