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Superbowl Party; Employee Rest and Relaxation Day; Orlando Fire FitKids

Innovative programming ideas aimed at motivating members to exercise with all featured programs submitted by readers.

Vaughn Hebron Annual Superbowl Party

Newtown Athletic Club, Newtown, Pa.

Each year, the Newtown Athletic Club is the site of the annual Superbowl Party hosted by former pro football player and Transcend Sports Training Director Vaughn Hebron. A television sports analyst for ESPN Sportsnet in Philadelphia, Vaughn's presence at the event attracts as many as 1,500 people. The goals of the event are to showcase and promote the fitness center, provide a special event for members to enjoy, raise funds for the United Way and gain new members. "Our goal is to provide a family event during what is traditionally an adult activity so that everyone in the family can be together and enjoy activities for all ages," says Linda Mitchell, director of marketing and public relations.

The event begins at 2 p.m. with a Superbowl Experience set up in one of the two gymnasiums. It features inflatable rides, competitive tossing games, autographs with Hebron, contests and prizes. Kids can also swim in the indoor pools, play in the maze or watch videos in the nursery. Adults can enjoy the pre-game festivities and watch the game on a 20-by-20-foot screen with food vendors, DJ entertainment and easy chairs for rent. A donation of $25 per family or $10 per adult is requested at the door. All monies raised are donated to the United Way.

In 2004, the event raised $10,000 for the United Way. In addition, it garnered thousands of dollars of free publicity in local newspapers, radio and television stations for Newtown Athletic Club. What's more, according to Mitchell, about 20 to 30 new memberships were gained during peak membership season. The event was super for the community and the facility!

Employee Rest and Relaxation Day

Verizon Wireless Employee Health & Wellness Center, Salt Lake City, Utah

"Come sail away ... Just for the day" massage and food-drive kick-off was part of the Verizon Wireless Health & Wellness Center's Employee Rest and Relaxation Day. Goals for the event were to increase awareness about the number of hungry and needy families in the community, to promote community giving among employees, to collect 500 food items for the local food bank, to decrease employee stress as they head into the holiday season, to increase employees' understanding of back and spinal health, and to increase employee morale.

"The day began with the employees being able to leave their business casual clothes at home, and come to work dressed in everyday casual or Hawaiian-themed clothes," says Head Coach Mark Monteyne. The event took place in the employee cafeteria conference room, dubbed the South Pacific Spa, which was decorated in a tropical theme, complete with island music, dimmed lights, island fragrances and a seaside mural. During their breaks and lunches, employees were invited to come to the "spa" to receive information on back and spinal health, enjoy a tropical umbrella drink and receive a relaxing massage from one of the four massage therapists (who donated their time for the event) -- all for a donation of two canned food items. Upon leaving the spa, employees were given a lei as a way to say thank you for the donation.

Seventy percent of employees who worked that day dressed in casual or Hawaiian dress, and donations exceeded 500 food articles (nearly 400 pounds). In addition, more than 150 back-health packets were picked up by employees, and 125 employees received massages. According to Monteyne, the employees loved the event. But, best of all, the goal to increase morale paid off. "Since our Employee Rest and Relaxation Day, we have seen a significant decrease in the number of employees missing work for things we call morale issues," explains Monteyne. "For the two months before the event, we averaged 88.73 hours per day of missed work time. Since the event, IMT (the Intra-day Management Team) reports we have averaged 48.92 hours per day of missed work time, a decrease of nearly 45 percent."

Orlando Fire FitKids

City of Orlando, Fla.

When the city of Orlando, Fla., realized that 61 percent of all emergency calls were medical calls, it created Orlando Fire FitKids, a 12-hour, hands-on fitness and nutrition program, plus a four-week wellness challenge and award ceremony taught by firefighters that are ACE/IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) Certified Peer Fitness Trainers. The goal was to reduce obesity in elementary and middle school children by teaching them about nutrition, exercise and making healthy life choices.

The firefighters introduced children to yoga, Pilates, body-weight exercises, and group fitness classes and videos. The children also learned about healthy eating choices, including from local fast food chains and convenience stores. "The nutrition segment used a wide variety of food models and menus to allow a hands-on, realistic approach," explains Wellness Coordinator Debbie Castagnola-Wheeler. After the event, the children were then challenged to continue practicing what they learned, and to journal their progress over the next four weeks, at which time an awards ceremony was held to reward the kids' healthy behavior with medals and certificates.

"The program reached its goal," says Castagnola-Wheeler, "with 96 percent of the kids learning new things about fitness and nutrition." Five months after the program, parents contacted the City of Orlando to let them know how the event changed their children. The results: 96 percent learned new things about eating; 77 percent made healthier eating decisions; 70 percent drank more water; 48 percent encouraged friends or family to eat healthily; 88 percent learned more about being fit; and 76 percent exercised more. And the children weren't the only ones who benefitted. "This program benefitted the city of Orlando by helping to create a healthier community and educating children about the physical demands of firefighting," says Castagnola-Wheeler.
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