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Busy executives, professionals making investments in fitness

One of the most important investments in any business is the employees. But illness and sick days can often cripple a company.

Renee Cotton is in charge of corporate health for Baptist Medical Systems. In addition to conducting pre-employment drug tests, physicals and hearing and vision tests, Cotton also introduces companies to the prevention side of medicine. “With the rising cost of healthcare, it makes sense for employers today to either continue providing healthcare coverage, but requiring the employee to pay for part of the premium, or to encourage employees to participate in a wellness program.”

For Baptist, that program includes the Healthplex, which is the wellness center located across from the main hospital campus as well as on the campus of Mississippi College in Clinton. “We offer corporate memberships to companies,” says Cotton. “With as few as four employees joining together, the regular rates are reduced. We’ve done that because we have so many small companies in the immediate areas surrounding both centers. And in small companies, especially, when one person is sick, it can throw everything off.”

Passion for prevention

Dr. Chad Rhodes is head of preventative medicine for Baptist. “I oversee a population of over 2,700 employees. My biggest role is health education among our employees, but I also go out in public and speak on preventative medicine on behalf of Baptist.”

For Rhodes, preventative medicine is a passion. “It’s basic lifestyle modification. If you lead a healthy lifestyle now, you’ll have an easier time later in life.”

Right at home

While there are numerous gyms, fitness center and wellness centers scattered around the metro, many executives are opting to install gym equipment in their homes.

“We are seeing a real increase in home gyms,” says Dale Stewart, owner of Fitness Expo. “We’ve been in business for 27 years, but only in recent years have we seen people putting full gyms in their homes. We have people come in with the blueprints to homes they are building, which include a dedicated room for working out. We’ve also had many builders ask us to bring equipment to put into their show houses. Most of those folks will hire a personal trainer to come into their home to work with them.”

Another way executives can stay fit is to have regular massage.

“It used to be looked upon as a luxury,” says registered massage therapist Marty Bell, who leases space at Body Benefits. “But it’s no longer an indulgence. Executives are under a lot of stress, and massage therapy has become a necessity to their health and well-being.”

Bell says that for many years, therapists had to overcome the stigma that often associates massage with the seedier side of life. “But as more people become aware of alternative healthcare, they are more open to alternative treatments, including massage. They’ve learned that they can recover faster from problems ranging from a crick in the neck to postural problems that are a result of sitting at a computer all day.”

Bell has been a massage therapist for five years and also instructs at the Mississippi School of Therapeutic Massage. “I worked in the corporate world for many years. For me, this is a passion and a mission. I feel I have been called to do this, and everyday I see how it is possible to relieve stress and enhance the lives of the people I touch.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer S.J. Anderson at andersonwrites@yahoo.com .

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