by Alex Palmer | February 02, 2015
In the midst of a busy meeting, it can be hard to find time for a healthy lunch, let alone a fun activity that encourages attendees to get to know each other.

The innovation behind the Mason Jar Team Building activity, created by wellness group Well & Being, is that it manages to do both of these things at once. The program pits teams of attendees against one another to devise a meal that is at once nutritious, attractive, and delicious, all within the confines of a wide-mouthed mason jar.  The program aims to make lunch both fun and educational, and to give participants health lessons they can take home with them.

The activity brings together a group of attendees who are then split into teams. A nutritionist gives everyone a primer on the health value of various ingredients. She points out common misconceptions or considerations that participants should take into account. For example, while most know blue cheese dressing is high in fat, Italian dressing -- often high in sugar -- may be something more important to avoid for some diets.

Teams are then sent off to various stations, with categories such as protein, nuts, and fruits. Each team crafts a layered "Mason jar salad" designed for both taste and health.

"It's funny to see how competitive people can get with ingredients flying all over the place," says Erin Stremcha, director of marketing for Trilogy Spa Holdings, which owns Well & Being. She emphasizes that the competition and wellness discussion often leads participants to open up and connect with one another in ways they would not be expected to in a more conventional meeting or group meal. "Someone will say, 'this would be great with my kids,' or 'I travel a lot and don't eat well, so this is a good idea,' -- it leads them to talk about each others' lives."

Once each team builds its perfect salad, it presents it to the group where it is judged. It is not always just about health -- the salads can be awarded for as many categories as the planner chooses, such as for "most vibrant color," "best tasting," "best nutritional value," or any other distinction.

The winning salad recipe is then printed on a card that each attendee receives along with a Mason jar of his or her own.

"The whole purpose of the Well & Being philosophy is to encourage wellness every day," says Stremcha. "It's something they walk away with that they can then use for their own lunches or their family's."

The Mason jar activity is just one of the many activities offered by Well & Being, which partners with high-end hotels to design comprehensive spa and wellness programs and facilities. The organization has been working with The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for years and this spring is partnering with the Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas as part of the property's $3.5 million renovation of its sports facility and spa.

"We know it's important to travelers to continue their fitness and nutrition routines while on the road, and by introducing Well & Being to our group guests we can offer them an array of personalized wellness experiences integrated into their meetings," says Jana Thompson, director of sales for the Four Seasons property. "It's a great way to keep those meeting attendees motivated, energized, and focused."

The new facility, Well & Being at Four Seasons Resort & Club Dallas at Las Colinas, boasts almost 185,000 square feet of space for fitness, health, and beauty. Not only will it provide a full array of high-tech equipment, and activities like aerial hammock yoga, but its spa will focus on providing customizable wellness experiences that incorporate nutrition, fitness, integrative medicine, and mind-body therapies.

Stremcha believes this kind of customizable offering is becoming increasingly popular for groups, where attendees' fitness needs can vary widely. For this reason, she stresses that a simple and fun activity like the Mason jar salads is an ideal way to bring everyone together.

"Companies are trying to encourage a work/life balance for their employees and we see this activity as one option for educating them," she says. "Attendees can then take it home with them and make it valuable in their lives."



Questions or comments? Email alexpalmer3000@gmail.com



This article appears in the February 2015 issue of Successful Meetings.