At Foxconn Ohio, Fitness and Health Are Priorities
LORDSTOWN, Ohio – It’s 6 a.m. Some 25 associates who work on the battery production floor at Foxconn’s Ohio plant in Lordstown gather for a morning ritual.
These Foxconn employees aren’t in store for an intense pep talk or major production meeting. Instead, they take a moment to relax. They stretch and perform a series of ergonomic exercises that loosen the muscles in their bodies, their joints and tendons as the workday begins.
“We do them every morning, before every shift,” says Chad Powell, engineering manager for assembly at Foxconn. “We want to get people warmed up and ready to work.”
Powell says repetitive tasks, especially in a manufacturing setting, can produce undue stress on the body. Therefore, it’s important to engage in exercises that target specific areas
that are most affected by the nature of the work.
“In the morning, you’re coming in and you’re just getting out of bed,” he says. “As we go through these exercises, you’re raising your body temperature, raising your core so you can work throughout the day.”
These sessions vary from department to department, Powell says. In his section, much of the attention is devoted to performing five to seven minutes of ergonomic stretches that target joints and tendons.
“Much of the wear and tear is on your fingers, elbows, shoulders and your wrists,” he says. “This is a repetitive assembly process.”
Physical and mental fitness is an important component to the corporate culture of Foxconn Ohio, company officials say. From these early morning exercise routines to lunchtime and after-work fitness programs, Foxconn strives to improve the health and well-being of its employees, they explain.
“My role here is to engage and empower people with wellness and fitness from all different avenues,” says Kevin Watson, fitness and wellness specialist at Foxconn. Watson is charged with developing health-related events and group and individual fitness plans for employees at the plant. Each Thursday, the fitness specialist hosts a group workout at the plant gymnasium, a room outfitted with floor mats, free weights, treadmills and spinning equipment. “Hopefully, we’ll get the afternoon workout going up to five times a week, [tentatively beginning in November],” he says.
The company also provides after-work programs such as Zumba classes and other workout sessions, which Watson says, are gaining more appeal. Recently, as many as 300 employees turned out for a health fair that Watson organized.
“Trying to keep a healthy mental capacity for people in a manufacturing setting is difficult at times,” he says. “People need outlets in order to achieve higher increases in productivity and also be able to keep their mental state outside the workplace.”
Watson, who has been in the health and fitness industry for 15 years, says the financial losses companies suffer because of employee illness is staggering. In 2022 alone, approximately $1 trillion in productivity was lost in the United States because of depression, anxiety and a host of other health factors, he says. Wellness programs ranging from daily exercise to eating healthful foods help to combat these challenges, he says.
“The support we get here at Foxconn is tremendous,” Watson says. “When you have that type of backing, it’s huge.”
Tiffany Knepper, a nurse practitioner at Foxconn and a regular attendee of afternoon exercise sessions and fitness classes after work, says she’s never been with an organization that provides these options.
“I’ve never had a job where we’ve had a gym,” she says. “I’ve never had an opportunity to work out for 15 minutes, take the stress off, join a class, walk on a treadmill. It’s important for physical health and mental health.”
As a nurse practitioner, Knepper understands the importance of wellness. She says these classes and events also help to build camaraderie among the staff.
“There’s a social aspect in getting away and stepping off the job,” Knepper says, such as a recent kayak trip where 30 Foxconn employees took part.
“I participate in all of it,” she says.
Pictured at top: At the start of each shift, employees perform a series of ergonomic exercises.
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