Dear Mr. Smart E. Pants,
I’m planning an event that is packed full of meetings and educational seminars, but I’m concerned about my attendees staying active. What ways do you suggest I incorporate fitness into my program, without taking up too much time?
This is often a big concern for every meeting planner. Our three-day events are always jam-packed with one-on-one appointments, speakers and activities. That’s why I like to offer attendees an optional morning exercise to start their day off right. This usually involves a basic exercise, such as hiking or yoga, which starts at about 7:30 a.m. or so. That way it’s not unreasonably early, but it won’t overlap with the meeting itself.
If you’re having a large conference where people are sitting all day, I recommend incorporating stretch breaks into the meeting. You can even hire a professional to lead attendees in a five- or 10-minute routine. Exercise can also be incorporated into refreshment breaks. In big cities, there’s often a walking or hiking trail close to the convention center that you can suggest for attendees who are looking to loosen up their legs before the next session. If you’re event has sessions at multiple locations, it’s nice to offer people a walking option, too. For example, if the next stop is a half-mile away, allow people to walk instead of ride a bus or whatever other transportation you may have provided. (That being said, make sure to have options for handicapped people or have a back-up plan for weather mishaps.)
At our events, we always have a team-building activity. I plan these with a bit of physical activity in mind. For example, in Park City, Utah, I planned an activity at Utah Olympic Park, where people were able to ride a bobsled, go ziplining or ride an alpine slide. In Scottsdale, Ariz., the group participated in several driving activities at The Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. I’ve also been at events where we went sailing, took dancing lessons or went on a scavenger hunt. Activities like these aren’t too rigorous, but get the group moving and out of the meeting room. I always suggest these compared to, say, a cooking class or something else that’s indoors and set in a single room.
I, personally, am very into fitness, so keeping my attendees active tends to be a major priority for me as a meeting planner. I definitely think that whatever type of event you have planned, you can find ways to incorporate some form of exercise into it, whether it’s for just a few minutes or a whole afternoon of team-building. Good luck, and stay active!
Mr. Smart E. Pants
Mr. Smart E. Pants is none other than our own energetic meeting and event manager Benton Partin. With a diverse background and 10 years of planning experience, Benton brings a unique and creative approach to meetings management. Have a burning question for Mr. Smart E. Pants? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.