Why CSI Built a State-Of-The-Art Gym For Its Employees

Why CSI Built a State-Of-The-Art Gym For Its Employees
/ Jun 10, 2021

When the CSI Companies, one of the top staffing firms in the US, recently built a new corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, FL, the leadership team was given an opportunity to design a space that fit their culture and delivered an environment where employees can work hard and play hard. A big piece of that culture is a commitment to wellness and fitness, so of course they included a gym in the new building. But unlike most corporations, CSI skipped the multi-station gym machine stuck in a dimly lit room. Instead they built a 5,000 square foot state-of-the-art fitness center that rivals any other in Jacksonville.

The CSI gym includes a separate 700 square foot studio for yoga, hot yoga, and barre classes. The centerpiece of the main gym are two Again Faster Competition Freestanding Rigs providing 10 squat stations and extensions for rope climbs and ring muscle ups. The gym has thousands of pounds of dumbbells, kettlebells, and medicine balls, as well as Concept2 Rowers, BikeErgs, SkiErgs, TrueForm Runners, and an A/V system that displays the daily workout and cranks out tunes.

Of course, when looking to outfit a corporate gym space, there is a lot to consider. One of the first questions corporate executives typically ask is, "will this space actually be used?" At CSI, they didn't have that problem as over 60% of their HQ staff use the gym facility every week. Why? Because it is a top down initiative led by CEO Chris Flakus and Director of Corporate Wellness Nichele McDonald. They believe in a "work hard, play hard" mentality where everyone puts the time in to ensure the company's success, while also making fitness a priority.

Nichele, a CrossFit Level 1 insturctor and certified yoga instructor, has spent her career in corporate wellness and building out gyms. However, her passion is coaching and teaching others to be the best version of themselves through all aspects of wellness.

We were fortunate enough to ask Nichele a few questions about the recent build out and some tips for other companies looking to replicate their success.

Why did you choose this type of equipment instead of traditional commercial gym equipment?

I prefer having the ability to coach functional type movements. Also it enables us to have more “team” like workouts and multiple people doing the same exercises at the same time. There is always something for everyone no matter their fitness level. And being that it is a corporate gym employees don’t have much time to wait around on machines. They get in and can knock it out quickly!

How did you go about planning the space and identifying your needs?

I’ve been with CSI for a little over 10 years and I am very familiar with the “work hard, play hard” culture. We have also grown the fitness/wellness program a lot over the last decade. So we wanted an attractive large space to give employees the benefit of getting in their workout in a state of the art facility and taking a break from their desk. We had an interior designer for the entire building that helped me with the layout and help our dream gym come to life!

How many employees does your gym serve and what equipment gets used the most?

I would say we have 80-90 employees use the space regularly. I program workouts for them weekly to ensure we make good use of it all. My workout programs alternate between strenth, conditioning, and CrossFit style workouts. The rig down the center of the gym was a nice upgrade for us, so that multiple employees can squat/bench, etc at the same time.

Now that the install is complete, is there anything you would do different?

It turned out exactly how I had it pictured in my head. The contractors, designers and Again Faster were all great to work with to make it all come to life.

What advice would you give companies looking to outfit a gym for their employees?

Nothing is more important than your employees health when it comes to a thriving workplace. When you invest in their health it shows you care about them and it helps your bottom line. Due to the focus of the employee wellness, CSI has enjoyed large health insurance breaks from our insurance carrier. It’s a win/win!

As for equipment goes, layout is important so that employees can get in and get it done quickly since they are usually on their lunch hour. Again Faster was awesome in getting equipment quotes to me quickly, getting the equipment in a timely manner and being flexible with my install dates as things always change at the last second when building out a new space.