East Hampton Software Company Focuses On Employee Wellness

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Take off your shoes when entering the conference room, instructs a sign posted on the room’s door at Mindbody, a software provider for the fitness, health and beauty industries with offices at the Red Horse Plaza in East Hampton.

And, though it doesn’t say so, one might also mind the giant stability balls.

It was 9 a.m. on a recent workday, but instead of meeting in suits and ties or even business casual to talk tech jargon, workers in the conference room at the Montauk Highway business were busy with dumbbell curls, body planks, and pretzel-like stretches. Three employees dressed in stretch pants and tank tops turned and twisted on yoga mats, mirroring their instructor, Zivile Ngo, a buff personal trainer, who, during intervals between flutter kicks, adjusted the workout tunes.

For an hour and a half every Thursday, staff members at this company have a chance to jump-start the day with an invigorating routine of cardio, light weights and stretches.

“It’s just to get them ready for the day,” Ms. Ngo explained, “just kind of wake them up a little bit, just to get the body flowing.”

On Tuesdays and Fridays, they can do on-site yoga. They also enjoy nutritional coaching, meditation and smoking cessation programs, as well as generous benefits.

Employees pad barefoot on the sun-filled office’s soft carpeting, where random beach balls up the fun factor. The daily uniform is nice, but comfy—Deborah O’Brien, a recently promoted regional sales manager, explained how she likes to cartwheel down the hallway or practice handstands every so often. A children’s basketball hoop and stand tower over one cubicle, as though testament to the philosophy that all work and no play does not a happy workplace make.

Another perk is $50 monthly vouchers to use at spas that use their software. Around 2 p.m. on Wednesdays, several staffers tend to stroll past the fountain in the plaza’s courtyard to Naturopathica Healing Arts Center and Spa for massages. (Though Naturopathica doesn’t use the software, it does accept the vouchers.)

The idea behind this super-focus on fitness is that it translates to a happier workplace, freeing employees to apply their talents and creativity to meet corporate goals.

“Because we’re supporting wellness businesses, we want to be well inside and out, so we want to support our employees in their health and finding wellness. That’s why we believe we should integrate it into the workday,” explained Georgia Suter, the company’s media relations program manager. At a health fair in Sag Harbor earlier this month, representatives handed out squeezable stress balls designed to look like oranges and sunglasses with trendy neon orange frames—the bright, happy shade is, perhaps not surprisingly, one of the company’s signature colors.

Outside magazine recently named Mindbody one of America’s best places to work for the second year in a row. This year Mindbody, which has nearly 60 employees at its two East Hampton offices (the other, an executive office on Toilsome Lane, does not have on-site fitness classes), placed 56th out of 100 companies. (The firm also has offices in San Luis Obispo, California; London and Sydney.)

Each employee who started out last Thursday sweating to Ms. Ngo’s instruction spoke highly of the practice.

“It puts everyone in a better mindset for the day ahead of them,” said Jill Hulke, an executive assistant, after class. “Doing it in the morning before work makes you feel really good. Today I’m having allergy problems. I’m usually more awake after,” she laughed. “But it puts you in a good mindset to work and produce something.”

Shamir Cohen, a senior sales specialist, said she works out regularly, so she appreciates being able to get her exercise out of the way early, freeing her to hang out with family afterward. “It’s great to get your endorphins going for the day,” she said. “It puts you in a better mood, and you have a nice, immediate glow.”

Sales specialist Lauren Froehner shared similar sentiments.

“I just feel so lucky that we work for a company that’s willing to provide us with this,” she said, adding that Ms. Ngo is “huge in the workout community out here” and used to do fitness competitions. “We all love working out. We’re all kind of workout fiends, so to get a free workout in the Hamptons is amazing,” she giggled.

In stark contrast to the temple of fitness that is Mindbody, at the same time the three women wrapped up their yoga mats to get to work, two employees of a neighboring business stood outside their office smoking cigarettes.

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