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Longer Days Fitness Challenge

Travis Dodge

Here at LongerDays, we like to stay busy.

In the past, we’ve documented the volunteer activities & community events our employees take on, but why not add one more thing to the list? A few months back we were presented with the opportunity to participate in a “corporate fitness challenge” sponsored by the MCC Lakeshore Fitness Center in downtown Muskegon.

From their website: “Lakeshore Fitness Center supports the health and fitness needs of the community by providing a high-quality facility, professional staff, and programs in a unique, supportive environment.” The corporate challenge was simple: employees volunteer to sign up, have an individual health assessment, work out with a personal trainer for one session, then work out for a month following the trainer’s plan.

Whoever’s health improves the most gets a free month at the center. The competitive spirit runs deep at LongerDays, so starting June 11th, 9 of us began this 30-day climb toward a healthier lifestyle.

LongerDays employees may be a busy and active bunch, but the actual time at spent in an office is anything but… Sure, our brains are working nonstop to solve problems and accomplish tasks, but our bodies are, for the most part, sedentary during the 9-5 workday. A fitness challenge benefits the individual bodies of those participating, of course, but what does mean for the bigger picture and our company as a whole?

It makes perfect sense: there are many benefits for an office when employees are healthy. Healthy people are absent less, and less vulnerable to common illnesses – thus spending more hours at work, getting more done, and fewer instances of covering for sick people, compensating absent employees, and so on.  

Working out reduces stress too! An office where the team is constantly pivoting from task to task can be a stressful place, and the effects of stress on the body are well documented. Through exercise, we can reduce stress and provide better service. Healthier employees spend less on healthcare, saving the business money healthcare plans.

Studies have shown that regular exercise produces chemicals required by the brain to perform certain functions such as memory, multi-tasking, and problem-solving (things we do all the time).

Finally, the challenge brought us closer together. Some of us who had never spent time with each other outside of work were suddenly taking exercise classes and giving each other workout tips. This after-hours time together helped strengthen our team!

So, what did this challenge actually look like? First, each participant had an individual fitness assessment. This included getting weighed, measuring height, blood pressure, the oxygen in our blood, hip to waist ratio, number of push-ups, length of wall sit, and other metrics to give a complete picture of health. We then had one-on-one meetings with personal trainers, who spoke with us regarding our goals and helped develop a training routine.

Emily Niemiec, Manager, had this to say about her trainer: “Court was super happy to address any questions I had, and to be patient with me in learning the machines and navigating different areas of the gym. He worked with me and took my personal goals and preferences into account to make sure I was enjoying the whole experience, start to finish.”

For rest of the month, LongerDays members worked hard striving for fitness. Some of us took advantage of the spin classes, learning about interval training on a bicycle, while others gave their all to aqua belly dancing. Everyone ended up in the weight room once or twice, using the directions our trainers had given us.

Several of us spent time in the pool, swimming laps and working on our technique. Chelsea Zobl, Team Lead, remarked: “I used to be a competitive swimmer. It was so awesome to be able to get back in the water.”

The whole month was spent learning to make healthy choices and develop a routine for an active lifestyle. When the 30 days were all done, everyone had a follow-up assessment to see how far they had come (and to determine the winner of the challenge). Our winner is Team Lead Lizze Mundt!

Celebrating her victory, she said: “The fitness challenge was awesome because all of our routines were just as unique as our own personal goals. Each trainer listened to what we had to say, and had our abilities and goals in mind – so that was really cool!”  

At the end of the challenge, Longer Days employees had:

  • Lost a total of 15 pounds
  • An average body fat improvement of 8%
  • An average push up improvement of 96%
  • An average wall sit improvement of 26%
  • Checked into the fitness center 96 times

Employees got to know each other better, some of us spending time together outside work for the first time. We worked out, got sweaty and gross, and did lunges together (yuck). The bond of our team was improved in ways that cannot be counted, and our office life has improved overall. We’ve built some better habits that will keep us happier and healthier in and out of the office, and had a great time doing it!  

Thank you to the MCC Lakeshore Fitness Center for bringing us in, proving that a group of desk workers who spend 8 hours sitting can begin the road to fitness!

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