ENTRY FROM: 2016 Top Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Lance Breger

Hospital room > Classroom > Boardroom: Evolution of a Health Promotion Professional

Lance Breger had it all…or he thought! Not only was he a full-time head personal trainer, but also simultaneously running two startup wellness businesses. The ‘it’ Lance thought he had was his health and working 7 days a week, sacrificing sleep for emails, viewing meals as productivity speed bumps and existing in a chronic state of stress proved otherwise as he crashed – hard.

In February 2008, Lance was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at George Washington University Hospital for a peritonsular infection. The extreme pain of speaking and swallowing plus the fear of potential throat surgery was the backhanded slap of mortality needed to change his life and priorities forever.

Now as the Founder and CEO of Infinity Wellness Partners, a comprehensive corporate wellness company (2 employees, 20+ contractors) he uses his life as the teaching tool for clients combining his previous health crisis with 17 years of industry education and experience to spread holistic health across the corporate landscape throughout the world.

1. Professional Development

Stressful school bullying led Lance to use weight training to transform his body/mind and he unexpectedly discovered a life purpose and passion. Lance received his Bachelor’s in Kinesiology from University of Illinois and Master’s in Health Promotion from American University. At age 19, Lance achieved professional certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a personal trainer. Lance’s education includes certifications as an American Council on Exercise (ACE) Health Coach and C.H.E.K Institute Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Lance serves as an ACE Master Instructor and is an IDEA Health & Fitness Association Program Director of the Year.

2. Demonstrated Success

Lance broke the health promoter mold by expanding beyond the gym and into disadvantaged elementary schools in DC. He created a 501(c)3, Infinity Wellness Foundation and afterschool curriculum called WellKIDS for childhood obesity. Between 2008 and 2013, Lance’s nonprofit comprised of community health professionals led 5,000+ inner city youth through 60-minute lessons of breathing, moving, eating, and stretching.

Lance saw the next health promotion opportunity with adults in corporations, motivating the creation of Infinity Wellness Partners, Inc. (IWP) and the onsite program called WorkLIFE targeting adult metabolic syndrome. Since IWP’s 2011 inception, Lance and his team have partnered with over 60 organizations to bring onsite and online fitness, nutrition, mind/body, and ergonomics training to thousands of professionals across the country.  

Lance very first corporate client, a medical nonprofit of 100 employees in DC, has completely transformed during the five-year partnership. As a fully-insured organization, leadership has been conservative to protect all parties with HIPPA laws and IWP’s recommended data collection has been slow, but steadily progressing.

A health behavior survey collected and analyzed on 50 staff members between 2015 and 2016 indicate improvements on health and lifestyle behaviors that contribute to directly to metabolic syndrome:

  • Meeting 10,000 steps per day – 5% increase
  • Eating 3 or more meals per day – 16% increase
  • Consuming 4+ vegetable servings per day – 3% increase
  • Eating 1 or less ‘junk’ food servings per day – 10% decrease
  • Consuming 2+ cups of coffee/tea per day – 5% decrease
  • Perceived level of stress ‘too high’ – 8% decrease

What began as a weekly fitness class evolved into an onsite and online robust, comprehensive wellness program, strategy, and culture:

  • Bi-Annual Online Challenges
  • Bi-Monthly Workshop and Webinars
  • 4 Weekly Lunchtime and Evening Fitness Classes
  • Quarterly 1-on-1 Coaching
  • Bi-Annual Focus Group

Integrating WELCOA Benchmarks have been essential to the program planning, design, implementation and evaluation process. Three examples are below:

  • The CEO is leading by example and can be regularly seen sweating with staff members in weekly fitness classes, performing breathing exercises in monthly workshops, using the stairs to increase steps for quarterly pedometer challenges and never misses quarterly one-on-one wellness coaching sessions.
  • Staff data is primarily collected through surveys connected to quarterly one-on-one wellness coaching.
  • Appropriate wellness interventions are chosen through a combination of focus group feedback, evaluating the health risk priorities of the staff, identifying obstacles for participation, and assessing the seasonal work demands.

The culture has completely evolved through the following:

  • Removal of high-calorie snacks for catered meetings
  • Inclusion of a dessert option of fruit at dinner meetings
  • Offering monthly meals from a rooftop garden
  • Staff-led belly dance classes
  • Annual $750 healthy lifestyle benefit
  • Reporting to senior staff members for buy-in
  • Healthy restaurant tours within .25 miles
  • Shopping and prepping for smoothie-making in the Café
  • Staff Appreciation Wellness Field Day
  • ‘Work WELL’ pledge program during their 25,000 member Annual Meeting
  • Wellness On-Demand folder for all resources, handouts, slides, and webinars
  • Annual Wellness Champion

3. Leadership

Leadership begins by living the part and Lance uses a 80/20 Rule (80% healthy / 20% living life) with 6 foundational principles to manage a healthy and holistic lifestyle:

  • Eat 4 meals of organic whole FOODs mindfully
  • Drink ½ body weight in ounces of WATER daily
  • Falling aSLEEP before 10:30pm for 7.5+ hours of sleep nightly
  • Perform 5 strength EXERCISE sessions and 2 yoga classes weekly
  • 30+ minutes of daily meditation and THINKING management
  • Practice mindful BREATHING around pace, length, and mechanics

The experiences and resources that helped Lance achieve leadership status was:

  • Public speaking for over 100 organizations
  • Blogging and writing articles for magazines and professional journals
  • Accepting media interviews for publications
  • Hiring coaches for public speaking, business, life, and health
  • Partnering with health promotion industry mentors
  • Pursuing and achieving leadership roles in organizations
  • Membership in professional organizations
  • Attending and speaking at professional conferences
  • Creating a 501(c)3 for childhood obesity
  • Creating a S-corp for metabolic syndrome in corporate america
  • Master Instructor for American Council on Exercise teaching personal trainers
  • Program Director of the Year for the world’s largest association for fitness and wellness professionals, IDEA Health & Fitness Association

His advice for other wellness practitioners is:

  • Dream bigger
  • Be the change you want to see in the world
  • Get a coach, mentor, or mastermind group
  • Reach outside of the walls of a facility

4. Innovation

To address the universal challenges and obstacles in corporate wellness programs Lance used the following innovations:

  • Tied quarterly one-on-one coaching with reimbursement of health care premiums to increase participation and prevent higher staff costs, which led to 93% participation in coaching.
  • Creation of a multimedia ‘One Minute Wellness’ training program of 60 one-minute wellness videos and corresponding educational manual for the time-crunched professional.
  • The creation of a ‘Online Desk Wellness Series’ of 15-minute, action-based, live and recorded wellness classes increased accessibility and participation 30% compared to onsite 60-minute classes.
  • A targeted population health promotion to legal administrators across the US and state chapters of the Association of Legal Administrators as a response to the 1967-77 Whitehall study proving greatest stress on British Civil Servants in lower ranking and lower in the hierarchy has reached 500+ law firms across 11 states.

5. Compelling Vision

A tremendous opportunity for the health industry lies in expanding beyond physical and mental wellness to include emotional and spiritual wellness. It is the emotions that power or prevent human action and contribute to long-lasting change. One’s spirituality is the most deeply-held beliefs on how to live that impact behavior at the core. By not including emotional and spiritual wellness education and training we are not yet providing whole-person health promotion programming.

Lance is dedicating the next five years to spreading holistic health, including emotional and spiritual wellness across the corporate landscape. The vision that gets him out of bed every day inspired is to give professionals the opportunity to safely explore the role of emotions and spirituality in their health and lifestyle through holistic corporate wellness programming.

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profile photo Posted by
Brendan H.
A 1-block walk separated my childhood home and elementary school. On that block there was a store that sold CANDY! Before I knew it, I was an overweight pre-diabetic 10-year old. I was so active that the doctors put me on ADHD medication in middle school that I ended up taking for quite some time. I received my Master's in Health Promotion Management, as well as several fitness and lifestyle coaching certifications. At age 25, I dedicated myself to helping others by co-founding Infinity Wellness Partners. My passion for health and wellness grows everyday through my overarching belief that businesses share responsibility for workers’ health, View Brendan H.'s Profile.
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