Blog: Winning with Fitness Bingo

Like a lot of people who get a charge out of a good deal, I shop on Freecycle, which is an online community through which people can give away what they don't need, and find what they do want, free.

But now it's February, and I've been noticing a distressing trend of listings like:

OFFER: Yoga mat, blocks and strap.OFFER: Free weights.OFFER: Exercise DVDs.

No doubt these are New Year's resolutions that didn't stick because they didn't turn out to be much fun, or because people got bored. That's what's usually missing: Fitness has to be interesting, it has to be challenging, and it has to be rewarding. It has to be fun.

My gym combats the resolution dropout phenomenon with a program called Fitness Bingo. Each member who signs up gets a bingo card. In each square is printed something like "Try racquetball or squash" or "Use the rower for 20 minutes" or "Try a water workout class." Every time people try a new activity, they get that block of their card stamped. Get a certain number of blocks stamped and you win a T-shirt. Get all the blocks stamped and you're entered to win prizes. People love it. I love it. In fact, it was this program that turned me on to the rower and the stair climber.

I'm wondering why colleges don't do this to try to increase the number of users of their wellness centers and help students keep off the weight. It would get new users in the door, and introduce them to the activities and facilities available and the fun they can have. The "Freshman Ten" might not stand a chance.

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