ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Chris Hawkins

3rd Healthiest Program/Company in America

In 2012 Pro Athlete, Inc., the leading E-Commerce Baseball Company, had vision of being at the forefront of a Wellness Program that actually saw results. Chris Hawkins was hired on as the Corporate Wellness Coordinator to do just that. When he started, Pro Athlete only knew about the physical side of wellness. Chris took the program, which has 56 employee's and 27 spouses, and ushered in a true overall Wellness Program that hit on every piece of the wellness "pie:" physical, nutritional, emotional, intellectual, social, and environmental.

Chris has brought the program so far it has earned honors as the Healthiest Company in Kansas City and just a month ago received honors as the 3rd Healthiest Company in America (H100).

Chris has been involved in the Health and Wellness field for over 10 years now and has brought has demonstrated the ability to innovate and lead in the Wellness field and has demonstrated all of the requirements and qualities to earn this award.

Chris Accepting Healthiest Company in KC Award

Chris completed his Master's in Exercise Physiology from the University of Kansas.  He is a professor of Exercise Science at Park University and is also an American Red Cross instructor.  He has earned certifications as a Worksite Wellness Manager from the National Wellness Institute, has multiple certifications from the American College of Sports Medicine in personal training and group classes, he is Sport Nutrition certified through ACE, and has his certifications for CPR/AED/First aid from both The American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.  He constantly keeps his education and certifications updated by continuing to educate himself and keep up with the ever changing trends.  His program has won honors on both local and national outlets as the Healthiest Company in America and in Kansas City.  He has been on local and national news outlets to demonstrate what the program is doing and why it is so innovative.  His passion for both health and people is what led him into this career.  Having his master's in Exercise Physiology has been so beneficial since he got to see what really is going on within the body on a molecular level. He truly demonstrates professional development when it comes to his career.

When Chris first took the reigns to build a Wellness Program from the ground up, he began by setting metrics of what needed to be accomplished.  High risk employee's, tobacco, activity, stress, and nutrition were the key metrics since the beginning.  Since the inception of the program 4 years ago, the program has decreased tobacco by 98.3% has increased participation and activity to 100% throughout the organization.  The program has implemented stress reduction activities so successfully that our self reporting stress report has decreased by 81%.  Some stress activities include: free massages each week, free access to pool, hot tub, sauna, steam showers, basketball gym, volleyball court, racquetball court, a game room, a spa, free laundry service, personal training, yoga classes, meditation classes, haircuts, and much more.  All of these are onsite and free to employees.  

The last element was our nutritional element.  We took this one to heart and have actually hired a full time chef that cooks healthy breakfast and lunches onsite free to employees.  By helping employees and their families with the nutritional side has had a huge impact on overall health metrics as we have seen a constant decline in Body fat %, Visceral fat, and health claims.

Our biggest goal is to decrease the barriers that block success.  Our metrics are proof of the innovations we have brought to the wellness field and the success we continue to have with our employees health.  We strive daily to take that next step.  We have started genetic testing with our employees as our next leap into the future of our health here at Pro Athlete.

WELCOA's 7 benchmarks tie very nicely into how our program has developed.  Without a doubt our program began from our CEO.  After realizing how out of shape he was, he lost 50 pounds and wanted his success to filter down into our program for the employees.  He has 100% buy in for what we do.  We have a great wellness team that meets quarterly to discuss how the program is progressing and making sure we are on track with our goals.  The wellness team has individuals from each department of our company.  We have a live dashboard for our metrics that our CEO can see constantly as they update.  Data includes health risk data, activity, satisfaction, productivity, absenteeism, tobacco use, and much more personalized data geared for our company.  We have a business plan/operating plan for our Wellness Program that has been branded and updated every year.  Our outcomes from our interventions have shown how important the interventions used were.  Our facilities and company live out our health goals and create a supportive environment daily, we don't just talk about it.  Evaluating outcomes such as activity, tobacco use, satisfaction, health risks, and more a constantly in the forefront our the program Chris has created.


Chris really does "walk the talk" when it comes to his health.  He's not one to just sit and talk about how to get healthy.  He is out there everyday with employee's showing them how to get healthy.  He is involved in many health organizations and he teaches most of the fitness and wellness classes at Pro Athlete.  He is a triathlete and has run many races with fellow employees just to get them to try different avenues for their health.  Being involved with different sports and activities in the community have really helped Chris achieve leadership status in his field, both locally and nationally.  People really "buy into” what he teaches and how he leads by example in all aspects of Wellness.  His advice to others getting into the field is to start at the core and source of what would make a great wellness leader, and that is yourself.  We all battle with different health battles, but it's the success of these battles that creates such a great leader.  You have to be able to relate to people to be successful in this industry.  One size fits all will never work.

Chris has been very innovative in the creation of a worksite wellness program.  One of the biggest issues he had for the first couple of years was finding an outside vendor that could keep up with the fast paced changing environment at Pro Athlete.  Because we are changing and innovating so much, there were not many programs that would help reach our goals.  So Chris decided to develop an internal application that would be geared specifically to Pro Athlete employee's.  This internal app has created more of a "buy in" with the program for employees because it connects everyone on a more personalized level.  If we need to change something with the program, he can do it within 5 minutes in the app.  There is no more wait time to change.  Other things he has done is bring on onsite chef to cook healthy food for employee's.  Introduced a health library along with teaching classes on health throughout the year.  He recently brought in an Inbody machine that takes measurements beyond the scale and that has been extremely helpful and innovative to employee health.  He has introduced our population to Genetic testing were soon all employees at Pro Athlete will have the ability to see what their genetics are and how to be the most successful with them.  There are more than 5 things Chris has been a part of when it comes to innovation and these were just a few.

In house App- saved $15,000 per year using our own application.  People use it more now since it is so easy to our population.  And it has created a social environment through it since you get to do things within it, such as weekly challenges and daily workouts, and employees can see this progress.

Chef- the company saves in the time people take to leave work to eat.  Weight/body fat% has increased since then leading to less sickness/insurance claims.  Eating habits have changed for the better due to healthy food exposure.  Everyone eats in the same room creating that social/cultural togetherness.

Health library/classes- knowledge is power.  People can actually learn what they practice and why they do it.  Behaviors have changed because knowledge has changed.  Culture has changed since these classes have again created that social environment where people can do this together.

Inbody- Can track metrics for the whole company such as overall body fat%, weight, bmi, muscle, water, and visceral fat.  Behaviors have changed for the better since people can set goals based on other factors than just their weight- creates more success.  The inbody is a staple in our culture now.  New hires do it as an onboarding process.

Genetic testing- teaching people things they may have never known, such as how much cardio to strength your genetics have success with.  Changes behaviors because of knowledge.  When we are all genetically tested this will just be another addition to how healthy our culture is.

I think the biggest opportunities for health and especially health within companies is that people, especially executives are starting to see how important wellness/wellbeing programs are to success of their employee's.  An employer can have so much impact on the health of an employee, but they have to implement the right type of program to have that lasting impact.  So there is massive opportunity for employers to take advantage of these chances to save money, improve productivity, and stop the epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The biggest threat is employers that only think in black and white.  Sometimes the cost saving feature is not black and white and unless an employer can see outside that box, they may never implement a wellbeing strategy for their company.  I think as a wellness whole, we need to constantly strive to show cost savings whenever possible to help aid with one of the most important things to some companies or provide those metrics that create a buy in beyond cost savings.

We are always moving forward at Pro Athlete and the Wellness Program itself.  Future plans within our program include some type of online clinic or tele-medicine to where our employees can access a Doctor or Nurse online through their phone app.  Genetic testing is also another plan we are striving towards to see how big the effects/benefits potentially could be for our employees.  Ultimately, we move with our employees.  We make sure they are the center of the program and their health needs, not the needs of society, are the ones being met.  Our goal is to continue trending downward with health risks and continue to trend upward in satisfaction and always being a leader in the wellness space.

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Chris Accepting Healthiest Company in KC Award 3rd Healthiest Company in America
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Chris H.
Chris took over the fitness program at Pro Athlete, Inc. 4 years ago and has since shifted the entire program to an overall Wellness approach. He has taken the focus from strictly fitness and has encompassed the overall spectrum of wellness including physical, nutritional, tobacco, intellectual, environmental, social, and emotional well being for all of the employees at Pro Athlete, Inc. Since its inception, the program has decreased tobacco use by 97%, increased participation to 100% company wide, decreased high risk employee by 96%, and has transformed every employee in some aspect of their lives. Pro Athlete was just named 3rd Healthiest Company in America (H100). View Chris H.'s Profile.
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