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Fitness to Go

Wellness Hits the Road in Unique "Catering" Program

By Matt Windsor

Looking for ways to stay fit at your desk? Want to know if the paleo diet is for real? Curious about CrossFit? Sarah Andreski, coordinator of fitness and wellness at the UAB Campus Recreation Center, has the answers. And she’ll bring them to you.

In fall 2012, Andreski (pictured above) relaunched Wellness Catering, a Rec Center program that delivers fitness and nutrition coaching to groups on and off campus.

Groups select from a “menu” of options, including yoga classes, advice from a registered dietitian, and even massage therapy. On a recent Friday, Andreski headed out to Vestavia Hills to speak at a staff retreat. “They wanted workplace wellness, including how to incorporate healthy nutrition at the office,” she says.

Many groups are interested in learning more about health and fitness trends, Andreski notes. “They want to know if the paleo diet is a good idea, for example, so we bring in our registered dietitian to talk about that. CrossFit is huge in the fitness world right now, so we get lots of interest in that.”

When school begins in the fall, Andreski and her team spend a lot of time in UAB’s residence halls, helping new students avoid the dreaded “freshman 15” weight gain. One of Andreski’s goals is to encourage students to take advantage of the Rec Center. “We have this great facility in the heart of campus, and a lot of our students have never set foot in there,” she says. “It’s included in their student fees, and the vast majority of our services and classes are free. They just aren’t aware of it.”

There are ways to incorporate healthy activity without heading for the gym, Andreski adds. In presentations to UAB’s information technology department and other campus groups, she has highlighted “deskercise”—“simple exercises people can do throughout their work day,” she says. (See a few tips below.) “We all know we need to get up and move during the day; the challenge is actually doing it. We’re here to help.”

Office Olympics: 5 Ways to Keep Moving at Work

Even though Sarah Andreski’s office is a gym—she is the coordinator of fitness and wellness for the UAB Campus Recreation Center—she still has to make a conscious effort to keep moving. “Prolonged periods of inactivity have been linked with a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and several other conditions,” even in people who are regular exercisers, Andreski says.

1. Clock out: “I set an alarm every hour to remind myself to get up,” Andreski says. Working at the Rec Center has its advantages: Andreski does a lap around the facility’s elevated track. The rest of us can take a spin through the halls or head outside.

2. Rev up the metabolism: “Before lunch I go outside and take a lap around the building, and I’ll do the same thing when I’m finished eating,” says Andreski.

3. Work for that pit stop: “When I need to use the restroom, I don’t use the one on my floor,” Andreski says. “I head up the stairs to another level.”

4. Special delivery: “Instead of e-mailing a coworker on the same floor, I’ll get up and talk to them,” Andreski says.

5. Practice deskercise: It’s easy to incorporate simple exercises into any office routine, says Andreski. She regularly demonstrates seven safe-for-work exercises to groups of cubicle dwellers, including calf raises at the photocopier and desk push-ups to strengthen the upper body.

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Keep your organization fit and healthy with UAB Wellness Catering.

• Read more about UAB's exercise and weight-loss research initiatives.