Incorporating wellness into one’s lifestyle is challenging, and when coupled with frequent travels and hectic schedules, it can be almost impossible. Physical fitness and focusing on overall health is a way of life for some, but meetings planners have an opportunity to provide all of their attendees with wellness elements at a conference. Here are a few ways to include healthy activities in your events.
1. Start the day early. Plan a group wellness activity bright and early on a morning during the conference. This is a great opportunity for attendees to breathe some fresh air, squeeze in 30 minutes of daily exercise and enjoy camaraderie with fellow attendees before beginning a full day of conference events. A variety of group activities can be planned:
> 5K fun run: Research the local area to determine a possible jogging route. Some hotels have jogging paths on property, which make for an easy fun run planning process. When paths are not available, work with the hotel to determine a feasible route, any necessary city permits for street closures and required staffing. Be sure to have a first aid station at the start and finish lines for any minor injuries. A big draw for fun run participation is the distribution of T-shirts, which can be worn as bragging rights for having participated.
> Poolside yoga: Give attendees a chance to find their center before starting the day. If the conference is occurring in a city well-known for yoga, like Los Angeles or New York City, consider hiring a distinguished yogi to lead the morning practice. Yoga mats will need to be provided. Consult with the hotel, as many have them available in their fitness facilities.
> Scenic hike: Coordinate a hike and head outside for some scenic views if your conference locale has hiking trails within the vicinity.
2. Be resourceful. It’s not always possible to get outside and organize a run or a hike, so be creative. If your conference venue has an arena or room with stair access, coordinate a group stair climb challenge. Recently, Symantec, a security and data management software company, hosted a conference where the attendees climbed stairs in the hotel’s arena, also the general session location. The attendees motivated one another. (Watch the video at connectyourmeetings.com/symantec-wellness.)
3. Double the impact. You can also double the punch of group wellness activities by adding a philanthropic twist. Encourage participation by offering to donate a set monetary amount earned from fees, such as registration to a fun run, to a nonprofit organization. Set the amount as the participation incentive. In other words, the more participation, the greater the donation amount. The nonprofit organization should be of interest to the attendee audience.
4. Include staff members. Conference staff should also be a part of wellness initiatives. A fun and engaging wellness motivator is to conduct a “Steps Taken Challenge” during the conference. Each staff member is given a pedometer and the staffer who has taken the most steps at the end of the conference wins a prize.
Remember, when planning any type of group wellness activity, don’t forget to:
1. Gather risk management or insurance approvals from the company hosting the conference.
2. Get any risk or insurance requirements from the hotel or venue in which the activity will take place.
3. Have all participants sign a waiver and assumption of risk consent form.
4. Select a morning that is conducive to the overall conference schedule and does not compete with late night evening events.