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Company pays employees to work out

by Maggie Crane

KMOV.com

Posted on July 15, 2010 at 9:25 AM

Updated Sunday, Jul 18 at 10:26 AM

How would you like to get paid to work out?

Every employee at Missouri American Water Company is now being paid to exercise on the job.  This comes on the heels of a potential health care hike at the company, which could lead to a strike later this summer.

News-4's Maggie Crane shows us how the new program is working to reduce costs in the long run.   

The idea behind this mandatory wellness class is to teach employees to be able to work smarter, safer, and longer.  Coach Hammer tailors each exercise to mimic motions Missouri American Water employees make in the field.  They'll do the routine every morning before work.

"A lot of handwork, shoveling, picking up heavy things sometimes, and if you don't lift properly, you can tweak a back, which I've done before," Veran Johnson, a supervisor at Missouri American Water, says.

But Coach Hammer says strengthening and stretching those muscles every day can prevent injury.

"They become healthier, they work healthier, they work more safely, and absolutely, this can cut down on a tremendous amount of workplace costs," Coach Hammer, owner of Hammer Bodies Fitness, says.

Missouri American says the work outs are working.  Injuries are down 25-percent since the program started.

"The numbers prove that it's money and time well spent," Ann Dettmer, spokesperson for Missouri American Water, says.

"People who are feeling good are good," Hammer says.

And that is crucial in today's economy where many employees are working longer days and more years -- prolonging their retirement age.

"Some days are 10 hour days, some days are 12 hour days," Johnson says.

"Taking care of yourself and staying younger and healthier will allow you to stay pain free and give you the chance to work additional years," Hammer says.

Employees say they're noticing the difference.

"I'm 50 now, so it was just phenomenal for me," Johnson says.  "I have more energy each and every day."

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