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Large supermarket chain offers its employees yoga classes

By Mason White 11:31 AM August 6, 2013
Wegmans supermarket location 

By: Sarah Weiss
A supermarket chain is offering its employees yoga classes in order to increase worker productivity.

Mark Novelli, an employee at Wegmans supermarket, lost 35 pounds. He said that the credit goes to his colleagues and to the CEO of the company.

Novelli, a 55-year-old maintenance worker at Wegmans supermarket in Western New York, attended one of the optional company health exams several months ago and received a strong warning of an in-house pharmacist about his out of control blood pressure.

In the following months, Novelli has received advice from Wegmans nutritionists and doctors on how best to bring down his blood pressure. Now, his blood pressure is a much healthier 119 over 79 and he keeps tabs on it, along with his cholesterol, thanks to monthly exams offered by the supermarket chain.

“It’s just a lifestyle change that Wegmans helped start for me,” Novelli said. He needed help not to eat cake and pizza every day.

Several years ago, Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman, the grandson of the chain co-founder, decided to help the company’s 45,000 workers to stay fit and healthy. As a result, the 96-year-old supermarket chain, which took in $6.6 billion in sales last year, now offers a range of health programs, including blood pressure and nutrition training. as well as yoga and Zumba classes.

It is not uncommon for cash-rich tech giants like Google to provide welfare benefits to attract coveted engineering talent, but Gates, New York based Wegmans is known for providing the benefits for its diverse workforce. The services are offered to the executives working at corporate headquarters to the cashiers.

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of Wegmans employees with high blood pressure has dropped from 24 percent to 14 percent, according to the company. Wegmans saw a similar drop in the number of workers with high body mass index, a measure of body fat, during the same period.