Wednesday, April 4, 2012

YMCA pits businesses in fitness challenge

St. Luke’s-sponsored Corporate Wellness Cup gathers 250 participants

Express Staff Writer

Businesses know all about competing in the marketplace. Employees from 11 local organizations are also teaming up to compete at getting shape.

The second annual Corporate Wellness Cup under way at the Wood River YMCA has gathered 250 participants in the competition to improve health of employees.

The Community Library and the Gold Mine, the city of Sun Valley, Cox Communications, Idaho Bioscience, Ketchum Grill, Pioneer Montessori, Silver Creek Outfitters, St. Luke's Wood River, Smith Optics, Sun Valley Co. and the YMCA have all fielded teams for the competition.

Three corporate winners will receive 50 percent discounts for three months on YMCA memberships. Three individual winners will be awarded free passes for three months.

"This is all to promote a healthy community and put a focus on companies. Making teams puts the focus on the health of individual employees," said Emilee Baine, Wood River YMCA membership and marketing director, who has a spot on the YMCA team.

Many participants show up during lunch hours or after work, working out together in circuit classes to loud music. Others come in at various times to work out individually.

The 45-minute circuit class on Monday, led by Suzanne Pere Mulenos, was attended by a contingent of Smith Optics employees and others. About 20 men and women warmed up to hip-hop music and then took to numerous exercise "stations" around the room, rowing, jumping rope, riding and doing push-ups and other exercises, before rotating to the next station.

The atmosphere was amicable, but under the surface could be seen the grimace of exertion and friendly competition. On May 1 Wellness Cup participants will be judged according to how much weight they have lost and how many times they have visited the YMCA over 12 weeks, as well as for beneficial changes in body mass index, a calculation of a person's weight-to-height ratio.

"Most people perceive that people in this community are very fit," Baine said.

But preliminary examinations of participants indicated that more than 70 percent were at risk for diabetes or other chronic diseases, based on body-mass indexes.

St. Luke's Wood River co-sponsored the event with $5,000 to pay for 12-week memberships for participants, staff time and prizes.

Baine said St. Luke's and YMCA business leaders are working toward establishing the YMCA as a wellness center.

"St. Luke's wants to use the YMCA facility because they don't have a place for people to get well and socialize, a place to expand what they would recommend and prescribe," Baine said.

Next month, the YMCA will begin a Lose It weight-loss program, based on a similar program under way at the YMCA in Twin Falls.

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