Gonnella Baking offering employee wellness program

by Eric Schroeder
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Gideon Akande was named 2015’s Next Top Trainer by Men’s Health magazine, and he is a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and runs boot camps, fitness classes and total-body circuit training.

CHICAGO — Gonnella Baking Co. has partnered with Gideon Akande, a certified personal trainer, to run a healthy workout program for its employees. The partnership is part of a broader wellness program at Gonnella geared toward promoting all-around healthy living.

Mr. Akande recently was named 2015’s Next Top Trainer by Men’s Health magazine, and he is a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and runs boot camps, fitness classes and total-body circuit training.

“We have received an incredibly positive reaction to the overall wellness program and specifically to Gideon’s contribution,” said Tom Marcucci, vice-president of sales and marketing at Gonnella. “People are drawn to his motivational style and are excited for his visits. He genuinely cares about everyone and their success, and he brings out their best, regardless of their fitness level.”

As part of his partnership with Gonnella, Mr. Akande will make several on-site visits each year. He will provide exercise tips and advice on how to get and stay active year-round.

“With a passion that shines through, Gideon inspires people and celebrates their accomplishments,” Mr. Marcucci said. “At Gonnella, we believe in investing in our people, and he exemplifies that with his enthusiasm.”

In addition to Mr. Akande’s workouts, Gonnella has implemented a Mission SlimPossible competition. The weight-loss challenge teaches participants about nutrition, meal planning, smart shopping, dining out, social activities and behavior modification. Contestants are awarded points for percentage of weight lost, body mass index (B.M.I.), inches lost, exercise and keeping a food log. Giveaways such as home exercise equipment and gym memberships keep employees motivated.

“We are amazed at how people have jumped on board,” Mr. Marcucci said. “Some of the women have created their own walking groups at lunch, and there’s friendly competition and bantering about cafeteria food choices.”

Gonnella said dietitians have been brought in to guide staff on how to improve eating habits.

Gonnella is embarking on its second annual health fair, with events being held at its three locations: Aurora and Schaumburg, Ill., and Hazleton, Pa. The all-day fairs will include wellness screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and body composition along with health care resources and experts to answer questions and dole out advice.

“The health fairs provide workers and their families with relevant information to help them improve their quality of life,” Mr. Marcucci said. “Our goal is to educate our workforce on how to live healthier lifestyles and increase morale. When we achieve that, the company -- and the employees -- both benefit.”
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