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Fitness

It Only Takes One Internal Champion

Rallying the Troops for Change

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We are lucky to have a variety of fun and inspiring opportunities here in the Coachella Valley to get healthy, or to remain so. Sometimes it is more fun, and often more successful, to participate in an activity as part of a group working together to achieve a shared goal.

Studies support the many benefits of group exercise. “Working out in a group provides support, accountability, and structure,” says Lynne Vaughan, Chief Innovation Officer of the national YMCA. “People don’t want to let their buddy or group down, which is terrific in terms of adherence to an exercise routine.”1

Sometimes it merely takes one internal champion to get a group moving. But where do you start? Programs like the Coachella Valley Health Collaborative Healthy Lifestyle Challenge (HLSC) make it easy. They provide a proven activity along with the tools necessary to get your group in gear.

From left to right: Eugenia Torres, Tami Scott, Sly Zelnys, Ann Marie Quintanilla, Samantha Hawley, Cindy Hansen. Represented by the “GCC Spirit Award” held by Eugenia is Josie Meza

From left to right: Eugenia Torres, Tami Scott, Sly Zelnys, Ann Marie Quintanilla, Samantha Hawley, Cindy Hansen. Represented by the “GCC Spirit Award” held by Eugenia is Josie Meza

“Communication is key and it is best to have someone who volunteers for the position versus someone assigned,” says Sly Zelnys, Human Resource Manager for the City of Cathedral City. “HR is usually a good place to start.” Sly volunteered to rally the troops a few years ago and has been promoting regular health challenges for their 165 employees.

The City of La Quinta has participated in six of the HLSC competitions. Their internal champion is Terry Deeringer, Human Resource Manager, who notes that it is important to keep the programs exciting and different. La Quinta has offered different prizes and award categories to incentivize in the past, and has held recognition ceremonies honoring all participants.

Zelnys agrees and has kept the Cathedral City programs fresh each year. Their first competitions included two internal weight loss challenges in which more than 20 employees (some 2-timers) participated. Sly created the flyers and sent out emails to encourage participation. A group of health professionals was hired to do weekly weigh-ins and provide coaching. There was a $56 buy-in for the 12-week program. The individual with the greatest percentage of body fat loss won 50% of revenue; second place got 25%; and the other 25% went to weekly winners. If anyone gained weight, it was a dollar a pound, so the kitty continued to grow. “Money was definitely a motivator!” adds Zelnys.

Cathedral City participated in the HLSC last year, and this year joined the worldwide Global Corporate Challenge. “Les Sept Femme” is their team named for the 7 women participating from finance, administration and human resources. “We are competing against 37,000 other teams around the globe!” Sly will also rally City employees to gear up for the American Heart Association November Heart Walk. “Towards end of summer, we will start rolling out info on that event, to hopefully generate a number of teams representing the City.”

City of La Quinta Healthy Lifestyle Challenge members work out together for the group’s benefit and their own

City of La Quinta Healthy Lifestyle Challenge members work out together for the group’s benefit and their own

These two champions are making a difference for their groups and having fun doing it. Deeringer adds that the effort can be discouraging if you don’t see the participation you’d hoped for, “but even if our collective efforts change one person’s life through weight loss or healthier choices, then it makes it all worthwhile.”

If you are looking to rally your office or group, the HLSC is an easy place to start. Now in its third year, the Challenge has seen hundreds compete against each other for bragging rights, “The Best of the Best” award, and most importantly, improved health amongst its participating members. Groups have been small and large, but regardless of the size, within each is an ‘internal champion’ responsible for distributing information and supporting the team with encouragement throughout the competition.

For more information visit www.mywellsite.com/cvhc or contact Gary Jeandron, Project Director, at (760) 341-2883, ext. 78163, e-mail gjeandro@csusb.edu.

Reference: 1) http://www.everydayhealth.com/fitness-motivation/group-exercise.aspx

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