Office Fitness: The Ultimate Guide (2019)

office fitness: stats

Office fitness is something that every personal trainer should be promoting to their clients. After all, studies show that hitting the gym after working hours can be ineffective in reversing the effects of sedentary behaviour… and no one wants to hear that.

Not to worry! We’re going to walk you through how to ensure your clients get the most out of your sessions. This includes achieving their goals from their desk jobs, and preventing all the nasty health issues that they entail. 

Office fitness is a growing trend, and one that is in increasing demand. No wonder there’s been a surge in sit stand desks and desk treadmills…

With OriGym’s ultimate guide to office fitness, all that your clients will need is you. Read on to find out more!


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The word that the government and health professionals use to scare people.

In this case, it seems pretty warranted for them to use.

After all, sitting for 8 hours during the working day, and then for even longer at home during the evening does seem alarming when you think about it.

Pair that with the fast food that office workers grab on their lunch breaks every day, and the terror multiplies…

Look at the stats yourself and see if you agree with us!

We know that most statistics can seem dramatic, especially those to do with health. But office fitness is something that shouldn’t be swept under the carpet. If you think about it, the 9-5 sedentary lifestyle is something that humans just aren’t built for.

Prehistoric humans walked miles further than us each day to gather the resources that they needed, and their skeletons show evidence that they carried large weights across long distances too.

If this is all true, then surely that’s how humans were designed to live, rather than being sat down or asleep for more than half of their lifetime…

With that said, humanity isn’t doomed just yet. There are ways to turn this around, and personal trainers and fitness instructors are the perfect people to promote this.

After a rise in popular personal trainers and health addicts on social media, it’s safe to say that everyday people are becoming more interested in health and fitness.

It’s becoming accessible to people in their day jobs, and seeing other people’s success across the web is making them willing to change their lifestyle.

Here’s some statistics with a more positive undertone to cheer you up.

So, if you have clients asking you about how they can incorporate office fitness into their workplace and avoid the impending death of sitting all day, this is what you should know so far:

  • Sit stand desks (adjustable) are a great start
  • Exercising on their lunch break could change their life (literally, they could live longer…)
  • Going to the gym 6 times a week won’t necessarily save them from their sedentary behaviour; they need to break up the time they’re sitting for!

The effects of sedentary behaviour

We know, we can’t seem to stress the effects that sedentary behaviour has on the body enough…  

However, it’s definitely a good idea to make your clients aware of them, or to get clued up yourself.

If a client comes to you with one of the following complaints and they have an office job, then you’ll know exactly how to help them out.

They’ll start to see results, and keep coming back to you when they realise how personal training is relieving their symptoms!

This may sound like a dramatic list of ailments to come from sedentary behaviour, but it is proven that office workers have suffered from conditions such as these.

Not only that, but there is an increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. This can be for several reasons, and studies suggest that the risks can’t be undone by working out at the gym after work. No matter how healthy the worker is, sedentary behaviour can still harm them, and take years off their life.

Sedentary behaviour also poses a higher risk of cancers such as endometrial, ovarian, bowel, and prostate. Sure, they are only risks, but it’s still worth letting your clients know that they can avoid them by taking your advice.

Office fitness: Desk Posture

Before your clients jump into office HIIT, you’ll want to make sure that they’ve got their desk posture right. If they’re going all out with exercising at work, then they may as well nail the fundamentals.

With so many health risks to dodge, it’s a no brainer. Desk posture can make a huge difference to office workers, along with office HIIT, which we’ll talk about later in the article.

So, what is the correct posture for sitting at a desk?

Once you get into this position, it’s easy to get used to.

Having the lower back supported is one of the key elements of desk posture, as it will reduce back pain and the risk of other back related problems down the line. It’ll make your clients feel more energized whilst they’re working, too!

If repetitive strain injuries are something your clients have suffered with, tell them to have their chair at a height that allows them to type with their wrists and arms straight and parallel to the floor.

Their arms should be in an L-shape, from the shoulder downwards. This is a good way to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

Having their screen at eye level will mean that their neck is in the best position for improving desk posture. It will reduce neck pain, eye strain, and tiredness too, so your clients will notice an increase in their focus at work.

Sit Stand Desks

Tying into desk posture comes sit stand desks. Who says that you have to be sat at your desk?

As we mentioned earlier, sit stand desks are mandatory in Denmark. This is because they are proven to counter the health risks of sedentary behaviour, which is what office workers could be claimed by in the future (if they don’t act now).

Sit stand desks are exactly what they say on the tin. They are a height-adjustable desk that can be used to alleviate pressure on the back and spine, and to prevent circulation issues.

They’re reasonably priced, making it a good investment for employers, or for those who are self employed and work from home.

We’ve compiled some sit stand desks prices below, making it easier to convince your clients to get standing as part of their office fitness! (There are a range available from some providers, but we’ve gone with the cheapest suitable options – some are table top workstations)

As you can see, prices range quite a bit depending on the size, model, and frame.

Why not encourage your clients to have a browse on Amazon themselves? That way, they can see what the best option for them or their employer is. Some may want the whole caboodle complete with motorised desk tops, while others may favour a more basic option.

There are always alternatives to suggest; if they or their employer is reluctant to pay out for a sit stand desk, then they can always compromise and make their own!

Tell them to use a spare bookshelf or grab a paper box from the photocopy room! This could be a great alternative to stand their laptop on as they work standing up at their usual desk.

Office fitness: Chair Based Exercises

WARNING: Do NOT complete on wheeled chairs…

These are chair based exercises you can show to your clients in the gym; pull over a chair and get cracking! They can easily do them at work when no-one is looking, or even get their co-workers involved. They’re simple, effective, and can literally be done at their desk.

Shoulder Raises

Let’s start with one of the easiest chair based exercises, as its one you have no excuse not to complete (and it can work wonders for neck tension).


  • Relax your shoulders, with your arms by your sides
  • Raise both arms up so that they’re in line with your ears, and hold them there for 10 seconds before relaxing them
  • Repeat this for 10 reps, and you’ll loosen up in no time!

Leg raises (seated)

  • Assume a position in the middle of your chair, away from the backrest. Be sure to grip the sides of the chair as you do this.
  • Place one leg in front of you, making sure it’s straight (it should form a 90-degree angle with your torso)
  • Keeping your toe pointed and your abs tight, move the leg up and down about an inch or two, at a slow pace. 15-20 reps on each leg are ideal
  • Make sure the PACE is SLOW. Otherwise, your abdominals won’t be targeted

Arm lifts

  • Whilst sitting on the edge of your chair, lean forwards and slightly arch your lower back
  • Extend your arms downwards until your hands are almost touching, and ball your fists
  • Lift your arms outwards until your fists rest slightly above your head (rather than being on level with it)
  • Keep them in this position for a few seconds, then move them slowly downwards again
  • Repeat

Plank (with chair)

One of our favourite isometric ab exercises, this will keep your abdominals in a static position while you wait for your next lot of printing to be done. Use that spare time to tone up!

  • Grip either the handles or the edges of the seat whilst making sure your body is nice and straight, at about a 45-degree angle from the floor
  • Raise your heels (so your feet aren’t flat), tuck your hips in, push with your palms, and be sure to push up the middle of your back
  • Hold this position for as long as you can, or in 15-30 second intervals (with a 10 second rest).

Toe touches

  • When seated, place your feet on the floor around as far apart as the legs of the chair
  • Extend your arms at your sides, and bring your right arm down to touch your left toes (or your ankle if you can’t quite make it)
  • Stretch your right leg out whilst doing so, as this will add to the benefits
  • Make sure your left arm is still extended whilst you complete the move, as this will make sure you’re working the right muscles
  • Repeat on the opposite side

Tricep dips

  • Get yourself in front of a chair, facing the same way as you would if you were seated on it, and place your hands at the front of its sides
  • Make sure your feet are flat, and your legs are at a 90-degree angle before you dip
  • Perform dips by bending your elbows, keeping your back straight, and moving your bottom towards the floor
  • Raise yourself back upwards, straightening your arms (but not locking your elbows)
  • Repeat this for 15-20 reps
  • Go at a slow pace, as this will truly help you to feel the benefits (and work your muscles harder!)

Abdominal Twists (Seated)

  • Sit in the middle of your chair, with your feet flat to the floor and your back straight (keeping it away from the backrest)
  • Place your hands behind your head for support, and lift your left knee towards your right elbow, literally ‘twisting’ your body
  • Once done, repeat movement on the opposite side of your body, and continue for as long as you wish. 10-15 reps on each side is ideal

Full body lift

The full body lift can look easy when others execute it, but unless you’re already an athlete, it can be quite challenging.

This is one of the most popular isometric ab exercises to try in the office, and certainly one to try after you’ve gained a bit of strength from other workouts.

  • Whilst seated, grip the edges of your chair firmly
  • Push your body upwards enough so that it is completely off the chair, and a few centimetres above it
  • Lift your knees up to your chest using your abdominal muscles
  • Hold your position for at least 15 seconds, and 20-25 if you can

Oblique crunches

This is a difficult one to get right, in a way that will be the most effective. But not to worry! As long as you teach your clients to feel the side of their obliques tightening, they’ll start seeing results.

It’s easier on a chair with handles but can still be mastered without.

  • Sit on the chair towards the front edge and lean back slightly, gripping either the handles or the edges of the seat
  • Sit on one side of your hip, so that it’s at a slight angle in the chair/you’re balancing on it
  • Extend your legs out in front of you so they’re angled slightly downwards, then bring them in towards your hips, bending them in the process
  • When you feel the obliques tighten, this is when you know you’re working them right

Office HIIT

HIIT is arguably the most effective exercise for burning fat, which is why a lot of people turn to it for weight loss. Many also use it to boost their cardiovascular health.

It involves working as hard as you possibly can for a set amount of time and resting in between. Just in case your clients were wondering!

On average, it’s around 30 or 40 seconds of hard work, and then rest for the remainder of the minute.

So, how can you help your clients to incorporate office HIIT into their day? And why will it help?

It really can be as simple as it sounds, if you give your clients clear instructions and stress the importance of office fitness to them.

So, which office HIIT workouts should they try out?

It’s good to have a mix of office HIIT workouts, especially if you do them every day and want to avoid getting bored. Here’s OriGym’s collection of office HIIT workouts; take your pick!

NOTE: Do a short warmup before completing office HIIT to prevent injury. Be sure to stretch out your legs, back, and arms.


This one may sound quite simple, but it is worth adding to the office HIIT routine. Your clients will see great results with this one, especially if they are looking to shed extra weight as well as improve their cardio health in the office.

  • Start to jog on the spot whilst swinging your arms forwards slightly (a chopping motion works well to keep balance), and landing on your toes
  • Keep your knees high, and your movements fast and light (so that you don’t injure your ankles)
  • Once you get the hang of the proper position, go as hard and fast as you can during the workout time, and then jog much slower for the rest of the minute

Doing this alone for 20-25 minutes is enough, but it’s fun to add more moves into your routine. This keeps you engaged, and also helps you to tone up by working more muscles.



  • Start off by standing with your feet a little wider than your shoulders
  • Cross your hands together and hold them in front of your face while your elbows point to the floor
  • Move down into a squat, sticking your backside out and keeping your back straight (your elbows should be almost in line with your knees)
  • Do as many squats as you can before the time runs out! Then rest



Mountain Climbers

Do your clients love the Vertical Climber, and wish that they could haul it to work with them?

If so, this exercise will be perfect for them. They’ll be able to tone their legs up at work, all whilst avoiding those later in life health problems!

  • Start in the push up position with your hands flat on the ground, but extend your arms and back upwards, so that your legs are at a 45 degree angle to the floor
  • Move your legs inwards one at a time, as if you’re running on the spot (it will look like you’re in the starting position for a sprint)
  • Be sure to keep your back straight throughout
  • Once you’ve got the hang of the workout, go as fast and as hard as you can until it’s time to rest

NOTE: Add in 2 push ups between 4 strides to get your heart moving even faster!


Bicycle crunch

  • Lie on your back and place your hands on your head, with your elbows pointing to the sides
  • Bring your left knee up and twist your body so that your right elbow meets it
  • Repeat with the opposite knee and elbow
  • Alternate between both sides of the body until the time runs out


Push ups

They sound easy, but in office HIIT it’s all about aiming for how many you do in 30 seconds… so the pressure is on.

  • Start off with the plank position with your arms extended
  • Bring your body towards the floor keeping your back straight, then raise yourself back up again
  • Repeat as many push ups as you can during the workout time, and really push yourself further each time


Down and up plank (moving plank)

One of our favourite isometric ab exercises, but with a twist.

It’s one for those who want to show off to generic plankers… Give your clients something that will wow their co-workers!

  • Assume the plank position (with arms extended, and your back straight)
  • Put your left forearm flat to the floor, at a 90 degree angle
  • Follow with your right arm in the same position
  • Move your left arm back up, then your right arm back up
  • Repeat this for the time limit, alternating which arm goes first and keeping your abs tight


Squat Jumps and High Knees

  • Start off by getting into a squat with your hands locked together
  • Jump out of the squat keeping your knees in a similar position, but thrust your arms backwards for balance
  • Repeat this 3 times
  • Start to jog on the spot, keeping your knees as high as you can. Really build up the speed!
  • Do 10 strides, then go back to squat jumps
  • Alternate between the two for 30/35 seconds… do as many as you can!



You may be sick of hearing about them, but they are an ideal go-to exercise for office workers. They’re also very effective as an office HIIT workout and make the most of bodyweight training.

  • Start off in a standing position, and relax the body
  • Drop into a squat, making sure your knees are bent all the way through the movement
  • Land with your hands flat to the floor, in between your knees (NOT spread out wide)
  • Launch your legs out behind you, forming a plank position
  • Perform one push up, keeping the back straight
  • Pull your legs back into the squat position
  • Spring up into a jump, keeping your arms stretched upwards and your toes pointing to the floor (put all your effort into stretching your body!)
  • Land carefully in the squat position and repeat the exercise until your time is up

NOTE: Get clients to practise slowly at first, and master the correct positions (we don’t want any back, shoulder, or knee injuries from having your client’s legs or arms in the wrong place)


Before you go!

Now that you have a good idea of the undying need for office fitness in the UK, we hope you’ll spread it far and wide amongst all of your clients.

After all, who else is going to save the office workers from their sedentary lifestyles other than qualified personal trainers?

Gear up with one of our CPD courses to join the fight against the UK's decline in fitness, and push your career to the next level.

OR, you can download our latest prospectus here for more info on the industry-leading courses we offer! 


Become a Personal Trainer

Follow Your Passion for Fitness & Become a Personal Trainer

Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Content Manager, OriGym

Join Chloe on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Chloe graduated with a BA (Hons) English and Creative Writing from Liverpool John Moores University and prior to OriGym worked at J&R Digital Marketing Agency on the Liverpool 'Female Founders' series. Since joining the company, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and advanced Sports Nutrition Specialist. Chloe’s professional interests intersect content-development and the world of online fitness, especially across social media and YouTube, and Chloe has herself contributed pieces on fitness and weight loss to sites including the Daily Star and The Express. Outside her day-to-day role, Chloe enjoys playing the guitar, gaming and kettlebell training. 

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