Gonnella Baking Company has partnered with Gideon Akande, certified personal trainer, to run a healthy workout program for its employees.

Chicago resident Akande recently was named 2015’s Next Top Trainer by Men’s Health magazine. He is a two-time Chicago Golden Gloves champion and runs boot camps, fitness classes and total-body circuit training. He brings his energetic team approach and versatile training techniques to Gonnella as part of the company’s ongoing employee wellness program, which promotes healthy living and eating along with fitness.

“We have received an incredibly positive reaction to the overall wellness program, and specifically to Gideon’s contribution,” said Tom Marcucci, Gonnella’s vice president of sales and marketing. “People are drawn to his motivational style and are excited for his visits. He genuinely cares about everyone and their success, and he brings out their best—regardless of their fitness level.”

Akande engages the Gonnella workforce, teaches them how to stay fit at work, and encourages employees to get involved. On-site several times a year, he sparks enthusiasm in the staff and makes workouts fun. He also provides exercise tips and advice on how to get and stay active year-round.

“With a passion that shines through, Gideon inspires people and celebrates their accomplishments,” said Marcucci. “At Gonnella, we believe in investing in our people and he exemplifies that with his enthusiasm.”

In addition to Akande’s workouts, Gonnella has implemented a Mission SlimPossible competition. The weight-loss challenge teaches participants about nutrition, meal planning, smart shopping, dining out, social activities, and behavior modification. Contestants are awarded points for percentage of weight lost, BMI, inches lost, exercise, and keeping a food log. Giveaways such as home exercise equipment and gym memberships keep employees motivated.

“We are amazed and how people have jumped on board,” said Marcucci. “Some of the women have created their own walking groups at lunch. And there’s friendly competition and bantering about cafeteria food choices.”

Dieticians have been brought in to guide staff on how to improve their eating habits. Even catered company events have become healthier, with nutritional food choices like black bean burgers and recipe cards to take home.

Gonnella’s wellness program promotes more than weight loss and exercise—it promotes all around healthy living, said Marcucci. In fact, the company is embarking on its second annual health fair, with events being held at its three locations: Aurora and Schaumburg, Illinois and Hazleton, Pennsylvania. The all-day fairs will include wellness screening for blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and body composition along with healthcare resources and experts to answer questions and dole out advice.

“The health fairs provide workers and their families with relevant information to help them improve their quality of life,” said Marcucci. “Our goal is to educate our workforce on how to live healthier lifestyles and increase morale. When we achieve that, the company—and the employees—both benefit.”