Fit To Compete

Posted on Feb 1, 2010 :: Down Time
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Paul Jadin, Green Bay Area Chamber, and trainer Julie Stauffer.

Debbie DeLeers, an attorney at Stellpflug Law in De Pere, says she signed up for the Executive Edge fitness competition “just to get healthy,” but it doesn’t take much prodding for her to admit that she wouldn’t mind beating out a few colleagues in a fitness contest. “I thrive off of competition,” she says. “I have two other people from my office signed up and I’ll admit that I’m planning to do everything I can to top them.”

She’s not alone in this. More than 50 executives and managers from 38 organizations have signed onto Executive Edge, which began in January and wraps up in March. Executive Edge is the brainchild of Jennifer Younk, the corporate wellness director at Western Racquet & Fitness Club in Green Bay, and Katie Kane, director of finance for Fitnessology, which has staff at Western Racquet, as well as at Fitnessology’s clinic on Voyager Drive in Green Bay. Insight magazine is also an Executive Edge sponsor.

The program required participants to undergo a fitness assessment by early January to test their health and fitness levels, including body composition, cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, balance and flexibility. After the assessment, each participant received a Fitnessology Wellness Quotient report, along with a personal trainer’s recommendations for improvement. After 10 weeks, participants will be assessed again, with prizes awarded for the best overall score and the most improved.

Younk says she and Kane had been working together for some time to develop joint programs to encourage corporate wellness. They hit upon the idea that if company leaders could be enticed into a program, others in their organizations might follow, and they couldn’t think of a better way to attract executives than to appeal to their competitive instincts.

“If you want to get people in a company to be more fit and healthy, you have to have the leaders in that company set a good example,” says Younk. “We thought this would be something very fun and motivating for business people who are by nature very competitive.”

Cheri Feser, director of human resources at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, says her primary motivation was to check out the Western Racquet and Fitnessology programs for possible use by other NWTC employees, but the motivational benefits for her are a factor too. “It’s just a great incentive for me to see how much I can improve over the next few weeks and how I measure up against others,” she says.

Paul Jadin, president of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, says he’s mostly in competition with himself.

“This is just an opportunity for me to create a little bit of a test for myself and set some goals,” says Jadin. “I already work out five times a week, but I know I need to eat a little better, so I’m going to work with a nutritionist here to see if I can’t make some changes in that way.”

Jadin’s plan to access Fitnessology’s and Western Racquet’s nutrition counseling services is part of the Executive Edge program. While participants are free to work out on their own, participation in the program does provide a free membership at Western Racquet & Fitness, as well as discounts on personal training, nutrition and other services provided Fitnessology and Western Racquet.

Younk and Kane say they expect the impact to reach well beyond the 50-plus participants in the program, and they also plan future programs focused on corporate wellness.

“We think this will get a lot of people’s attention and that will have a great effect on other people in the organizations participating,” says Younk.

DeLeers says she considers herself a fairly fit and healthy person, but the incentive provided by competition will help push her further.

“I sit at a desk every day,” she says. “I try to be active outside of that, but it’s really easy to get into a lifestyle that’s not healthy. I’d like to be an example at the office of what it means to be fit.”