By Brenda Loube, President and Co-Founder
In the early 80’s I was working at Georgetown University Hospital, helping heart patients recovering from a heart attack or bypass surgery return to the life they wanted to live. After a few years of success in Cardiac Rehabilitation, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to also serve as the Exercise Specialist for the entire hospital. I started a pre-discharged exercise evaluation to help patients get clearance to safely go home, setting them on the right path to return to their normal activities and provide a green light to engage in sexual activity. After working with this diverse group of patients, I experienced an epiphany that motivated me to become a successful entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Corporate Fitness Works, one of the largest women-owned wellness and fitness service providers in the country.
During my career at Georgetown, I sensed a calling to do more to prevent disease and reduce health risks that led these patients to the hospital in the first place. I wanted to do more to prevent early onset heart disease, which meant preventing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle, just to name a few. After caring for individuals of all socio-economic backgrounds, I also learned that money cannot buy good health. At the end of the day, the most important resource you can control in protecting your health is your commitment to making your health a priority in your life. Your belief, how you value your health, your intention to live a healthy lifestyle and making health a priority is one of the most important actions you can take towards disease prevention. During my career at the hospital, the most important role I had was to educate patients on ways to prevent a relapse or the worst case scenario, death. Once they left the hospital, it was up to the individual to make the right decisions, to make healthy choices and live the healthy lifestyle that would help prevent them from returning to the ER or eventually to their surmise.
Prior to leaving the hospital to pursue my goal, the cardiologists gave me something I will always treasure. They gave me a necklace engraved with these words “Founder of Georgetown University Hospital In-Patient and Out-Patient Cardiac Rehabilitation Program, 1976 to 1980”. I have cherished that recognition my entire career. It is proudly displayed in my office reminding me of what inspired me to be the person I am today.
After leaving Georgetown hospital, I directed a Life Center that administered a comprehensive diagnostic screening to members of a health club, which led me to a role in the private health club industry, where I directed the group exercise program and the program activities for the club. This experience, coupled with my experience in cardiac rehab, allowed me to enter the worksite health or employee wellness industry in the mid 1980’s and launch Corporate Fitness Works with my business partner, Sheila Drohan. We shared a strong desire to decrease the risk of preventable diseases through health education. We believed that by encouraging daily physical activity and healthy habits, along with baseline assessments, and early detection, we could make the world a better and more productive place to live.
Through our combined professional experience, we knew the best place to reach people was through their place of work, a place where they spent most of their time and that ranked as a high priority. We believed if employees could see how much their employer valued their health by investing in accessible wellness and fitness programs, it would motivate them to value their own health and champion their own well-being.
Now coming full circle at present day, as a business owner I have come to learn a lot about the importance of ROI and now VOI, two very important measures that indicate the health of my business. Regardless of the ROI or VOI, I have not forgotten the purpose of my work, and the impact it can have on not just the productivity of my employees but the productivity of my community as a whole, so here at Corporate Fitness Works we also consider the VOH, Value of Health, when we assess the health of our business.
If you were to search the Value of Health you will get a lot of information about the economics of health, healthcare and insurance, the pharmacological impact on health, the impact that has on mortality, morbidity, retirement and longevity. However there is very little mention of the impact that a CEO or leader of an organization has on VOH and how it directly correlates to the culture and the overall health benefits of their own company. I do believe there must be a direct correlation to how a CEO lives their life to the overall culture of an organization. What can we do as an industry of worksite health professionals to instill the importance of corporate leadership as a positive influence on healthy cultures, to encourage all employees to make health a priority? What can we do to get executive leaders to value their own health and make it a top priority in their life and in their business? The value and the impact of having a healthy employee population is a huge competitive advantage. The comparison can be made in sports, a coach invests in their team’s health, wanting to ensure their players bring their best to the game. As in business, without players there is no game and without your employees being fully present and feeling good, performance suffers. It is hard to be competitive without employees working at their full potential. A healthy, happy, employee will be able to contribute to their maximum when they are feeling great. We know that good health improves morale, retention, productivity, presenteeism, happiness and fulfillment on the job, and the list goes on and on. In turn, healthy businesses and healthy citizens make for healthy communities.
It has been my life goal to decrease the risk of preventable diseases through educating people on healthier life choices and inspiring them to champion their own well-being. I hope that my story will inspire you to join me in leading the health revolution that moves everybody.
About the Author
Brenda Loube is President and Co-Founder of Corporate Fitness Work. She has over 40 years of experience in promoting good health and fitness for all ages. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education from Towson University in Maryland and a Master of Science in Physical Education with an emphasis in Cardiac Rehabilitation from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. An award-winning, accomplished author, advocate, and business owner – she lives by her profession as it has become her way of life. Brenda’s desire is to establish on-site wellness and fitness solutions that inspire all to champion their own well-being. In a fully collaborative style, Brenda and the Corporate Fitness Works team partner with corporate and community leaders to make healthy active cultures a reality, leading the health revolution that will move everybody.