Guest post by Katie Krieger
Just a few months ago, Sue Hewitt was searching. The evaluation coordinator at the Health District of Northern Larimer County in Colorado was looking for an exercise program that could bring her workplace together and meet the needs of all employees, regardless of their fitness level.
Now more than half of the employees at her organization have made significant changes in their health and their quality of life – thanks to the National Bike Challenge.
Hewitt came across the Challenge on Twitter and started researching. She loved the points system and the diversity of participants – families, employees, individuals of all ages. It was the perfect wellness project for her workplace.
But she did more than simply put the word out. She developed incentives for those who joined, like gift certificates, magnets and water bottles. By the start of the Challenge in May, already more than half — 44 out of the 80 employees — of the organization had signed up to embark on what would be a life-changing summer.
Located in Fort Collins, the Health District is in the perfect neighborhood for biking to work. In addition to weight loss and saving gas money, employees quickly told Hewitt that biking to work is now the best part of their day. Some participants who struggled with physical or health issues have shared their inspirational stories about how biking has helped them lead healthier lives.
One employee, who has a pain and fatigue syndrome, decided to try the Challenge and was exhilarated by her quick progress, racking up 275 points to contribute to the team. Another employee, who had put her bike aside when she started a family, was reunited with the joy of riding — and realized biking to work does fit her busy schedule.
How did Hewitt keep employees motivated? Each month, she organizes a raffle for all participants who have logged even a single mile. She also created laminated colored jerseys — each color representing a different accomplishment. A blue jersey is the award for “most improved,” and the red jersey for “most mountain biking” points. Her organization also had a “Bike to Work” picnic for employees to celebrate their fitness accomplishments. In addition, being part of a team at work has established camaraderie among employees and given them a feeling of satisfaction and achievement through working together to build up points for their office.
Hewitt hopes participating employees will inspire others who think biking is out of reach because of health issues, family obligations, or just a busy lifestyle. Through the National Bike Challenge, Hewitt and her coworkers have demonstrated that anyone can make improvements their quality of, even it means just biking a mile a day.
There’s still time to get in on the fun — and fitness — before the competition ends August 31. Sign up for the Challenge today!