Canadian Underwriter

How one MGA keeps employees moving — virtually

September 15, 2021   by Brooke Smith

Print this page Share

You may not know the Mayo Clinic’s Dr. James Levine. But you’ve likely heard his now-famous phrase: “Sitting is the new smoking.

With many employees sitting in front of a computer in the comfort of their homes for the past 18 months, and gyms and yoga studios opening to limited capacity, this phrase may be truer now than it has ever been.

Adults are spending four more hours per day sitting at home than they were pre-pandemic, according to the State of Sitting at Home survey, which was conducted between August and September 2020.

But one MGA is helping to get employees off their butts. Toronto-based CHES Specialty Risk has implemented free virtual fitness classes for its 60 employees. In June 2020, the MGA began by offering online yoga classes; it then expanded to include Pilates and high-intensity interval training. Classes are offered three days a week.

“That’s been available to everyone in the company,” said Gary Hirst, president and CEO, “just to be able to get out of the chair and get a bit of movement going. Get a ‘seventh inning stretch.’”

While virtual may not completely replace in-person workouts, they’re still popular. Abacus Data reported in June that just over one-fifth (21%) of Canadians have streamed an online fitness class, and 8% purchased a membership for virtual classes.

Hirst doesn’t recall how the idea for virtual exercise classes came about, but said several CHES team members enjoy yoga.

“And, a lot of the yoga studios were shut down. We thought, ‘A lot of people can’t get out of the house or are concerned about leaving the house, so why don’t we bring yoga, Pilates and training into their living room?’” he said.

“We were helping one yoga studio to keep going, really. And, at the same time, it gave our people something to look forward to — and a bit of exercise.”

Two sessions run on each of the three days: one in the morning and another around lunchtime.

Said Hirst, “You don’t have the embarrassment of having to go to the classroom. If you can only hold a downward dog for two minutes instead of 10 — no one need know.” 


Feature image by

Print this page Share

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *