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Olympics at Home; Disabled Kids SPLASH; Calorathon Contest

These innovative programming ideas motivate members to exercise using all offered programs and products.

Olympics at Home

Fairhaven Retirement Community Fitness Center, Sykesville, Md. Capitalizing on the excitement of the 2006 Winter Olympics held in Torino, Italy, the Fairhaven Retirement Community Fitness Center sponsored its first Olympics, February 27 through March 3. The event came about during a monthly newsletter meeting in January, according to Fitness Specialist Sonja Hoover. "A few residents were discussing the upcoming Olympics and wanted to have an Olympics of their own," she says. So they formed an Olympic committee, and opened the event to all residents and employees of Fairhaven. A total of 60 people (45 residents and 15 employees) competed in the Olympics. After registration closed, participants were placed on one of three teams by the Olympic judges. Each team had a captain who coordinated participation of their respective team members. The Olympics had opening and closing ceremonies, and the six main events included Bocce Ball, horseshoes, a combined relay, puzzles (crossword and word search), board games and a Fairhaven Feud (Family Feud). Other events included the Olympic Ring Find, Fitness Trivia, and Resident and Employee Fitness Challenges - all of which "were designed to expose the residents and employees to the benefits of physical activity, as well as promote the fitness center facilities and programs," says Hoover. The six main event winners of the gold (white), silver (red) and bronze (blue) were awarded medals. All of the participants received gift certificates for participation. "The Olympic events benefited Fairhaven in many ways," Hoover says. "The team-oriented events promoted camaraderie on campus. … The opening day parade around campus brought the entire community together to cheer on Fairhaven's Olympiads." And, since employees and residents participated on the same teams, it promoted relationship building among the two groups. The event also increased memberships within the fitness center. And, as a result of such resounding success, the Olympics are now planned as an annual event.

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Disabled Kids SPLASH

LifeCenter Plus Health and Fitness Center, Hudson, Ohio All too often, children with disabilities are left with few options for socialization and exercise. Beth Lattime, a water safety instructor for LifeCenter Plus Health and Fitness Center, Hudson, Ohio, wanted to change that. Lattime's 16 years of swim instructor experience combined with her master's degree in education as an intervention specialist led her to be known as a "swim instructor with a special needs program." So, Lattime decided to capitalize on this for the benefit of both children with disabilities and LifeCenter Plus by developing SPLASH - Swim, Persevere, Learn, Achieve and Have Fun! The program began in October 2005 with 27 children. The six-week session included an initial information meeting with the parents, an initial assessment meeting with each individual child and their parent, and six half-hour swim lessons. "The program took off like gangbusters," says Lattime, "and local school districts began to get the word out to parents of children with disabilities." Since the pilot program, the waiting list for SPLASH has grown. A second session was held in February, and there are plans for more sessions throughout the summer with classes both on Saturday and during the week. For each session, the ratio of instructors to kids varies, depending on the needs of the children, explains Lattime. In some cases, the class actually requires parental assistance. Lattime has three other instructors who have medical and/or special education backgrounds. "They need to be trained in water safety and in special needs participants," she says. The program has benefitted a lot of children, as well as LifeCenter Plus. "Participants loved the opportunity to swim and interact with others," says Lattime. "Parents loved watching their children accomplish what they considered the impossible in the sport of swimming." And for LifeCenter Plus, the program has made it known as a facility that specializes in the area of recreational programs for this special population. SPLASH has attracted people from the facility's immediate area, as well as from surrounding areas. "It's really exposed people to what that particular health club has to offer, above and beyond the special needs program," says Lattime.

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Calorathon Contest

Verizon Wireless Health and Wellness Center, Cranberry Township, Pa. The Verizon Wireless Health and Wellness Center in Cranberry Township, Pa., decided that there was no better way to celebrate National Nutrition Month in March than with programs centered around nutritional concepts. What Senior Coordinator of Health and Wellness Lee Anne Davison came up with was the Calorathon Fitness Incentive contest and a Healthy Alternatives Food Day. Both events were meant to help employees understand the connection between nutrition, exercise and weight management. The programs were advertised through email, target vision TVs throughout the building, word of mouth and signage, says Davison. Forty-five individuals participated in the Calorathon. Participants weighed in at the beginning of the month, and then recorded in a log how many calories they used each exercise session with a coach. At the end of the month, the number of calories used for each individual was tallied, and prizes were awarded to the "top male calorie burner" and "top female calorie burner," as well as the participant who lost the most weight during the month. All participants who worked out a minimum of 10 times throughout the month and recorded their calories in the log were entered into a random drawing for a final prize. Prizes were nutrition books: Eating For Life, The Complete Book of Food Counts, Healthy Eating and Nutrition for Healthy Living. Seventeen individuals participated in the Healthy Alternatives Food Day, at which participants brought healthy dishes to a breakfast and lunch potluck. All who participated were entered into a random drawing to win a healthy recipes binder. Both programs were supplemented with two educational nutrition bulletin boards, tip cards that were handed out to employees, a muscle/fat display, free fruit for all employees who worked out each Friday, free PowerAde Option every day for those who logged a workout and promotion of healthy choices in the cafeteria. In the Calorathon, 175,000 calories were used, which is the equivalent of 50 pounds. And, for the Healthy Alternatives Food Day, 17 employees brought in a healthy dish to share with 67 employees. The Health and Wellness Center also benefited: Davison says that average daily attendance increased by six (from 69 a day in February to 75 a day in March).

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