Company Creates New Stretch & Flex Video

Her “day job” is Corporate Safety Manager, but Melissa Czarnecki recently played the role of fitness workout video instructor. Melissa teamed with Nate Klenk of Walbridge’s Corporate Communications Department to create an 11-minute video aimed at helping construction trades and facility workers stretch and flex properly before beginning work.

Melissa, who started with the Walbridge Group in 2002, is a Corporate Safety Manager working with Walbridge partner company DFM Solutions. In May, she and Nate, an experienced videographer, produced a new video about the Stretch & Flex program. In it, Melissa demonstrates how to properly execute 14 different exercises designed to help workers warm up and reduce the risk of injury on the job.

“It’s important for both construction and facility workers to warm up prior to work,” she said. “It increases mobility and range of motion, which can improve performance and prevent injuries. Both fields are physically demanding and a tailored warm up and stretching program can bring body awareness to individuals.”

Melissa earned bachelor’s degrees in both Movement Science and Occupational Safety and Health from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich. She’s also a certified fitness instructor and has been teaching classes for 17 years. It’s all contributed to her knowledge of body movement, especially observation of body positioning in daily work activities, and in managing incidents and workers compensation claims.

The video includes an on-camera appearance by Jane DeHart, a board-certified and registered occupational therapist from Michigan with more than 25 years’ experience in treating and preventing common injuries and illnesses.

Melissa Czarnecki and Nate Klenk

Jane stresses the importance of proper posture and alignment, not pushing yourself to exhaustion, and stretching regularly in order to move more freely and experience full functional mobility.

Melissa then demonstrates these exercises: Marching, shoulder turn, ankle point and flex, gun slinger, slow neck turn, neck stretch, double shoulder shrug, shoulder reach, supported side bend, supported back bend, stir the pot, hand flex, knee bend, and standing lunge.

Stretch & Flex is gaining acceptance at projects across the Walbridge Group. Melissa counters the misconception that it takes a lot of time to conduct an exercise program prior to work by suggesting it can be incorporated into other scheduled activities.

“Warming up and stretching can easily occur during the pre-shift huddle,” she said. “That allows for both communication and movement to occur simultaneously.”

Melissa practices what she preaches by exercising a minimum of four times per week. “Personally, exercise helps me keep up with the demands of working and having two little boys,” she said. “Regular exercise improves memory, helps you sleep better, and can make you happier. It’s all due to the release of chemicals in your brain.”

Assisting in production of the video were Carly Hernandez, Walbridge marketing coordinator, who created the icons used to introduce various exercises and Bonnie Campbell, marketing coordinator for DFM Solutions, who helped out during the shoot.