Health & Fitness Exchange, Part 1

Posted by Lloyd on December 22, 2011

It can be a challenge to get employees to exercise nowadays. With so many demands on peoples’ time, exercise sometimes takes a back seat to other needs. Corporate fitness centers need to develop innovative ways to draw employees into their facilities. They also need to encourage them to follow a balanced exercise program that includes cardiovascular conditioning, as well as resistance training. At the PaineWebber Health & Fitness Exchange, staff members have developed a unique way to achieve these goals. By offering employees a chance to get clues to a murder mystery, they have increased participation in their fitness classes and even boosted the number of members who attend their facility on Harbor Boulevard.

This six-week incentive program was the latest in a series of events sponsored by the Health & Fitness Exchange. Members were first introduced to the program when the chalk outline of a student intern appeared on the floor of the facility along with the dumbbells that she had been lifting. Surrounded by “Do Not Cross” police tape, this unique addition to the training floor generated a great deal of interest. Members started talking among themselves, and by the time the promotion was announced, they were ready to hit the ground running. Murder on Harbor Boulevard went on to become the most successful program in the facility’s history.

Members first signed up as detectives for the case. They earned clues that revealed the murder scenario by exercising, including “top-secret” information regarding weapons, suspects and motives. To keep things interesting and to prevent cheating, six different scenarios were developed. Weapons included items found in the gym such as a dumbbell, jump rope, water cooler and an aerobics step pad. Six employees at the facility became suspects for a particular scenario with clues given relating to hair color, eye color and other physical characteristics. A list of 20 possible motives was also provided to the detectives for their use.

It included such dastardly deeds as taking a reserved parking space, spilling coffee and always being on the printer. “Some members didn’t realize that there were six scenarios at first,” says LaShawn Michalski, the “dead” intern who helped develop the mystery. “This led to some very humorous conclusions when they compared notes with other participants.”

Detectives received clues every time they finished an established exercise protocol. Three cardiovascular sessions of at least 20 minutes in length entitled them to a clue. They received another clue when they completed two strength-training sessions. These sessions were full-body workouts that involved one or two sets of an exercise for each major body part. Sample beginner and intermediate workouts were provided for newcomers to resistance training. A third clue was provided when detectives attended a special group-exercise class that varied each week. Staff members recorded exercise compliance in a personal Homicide Report. All told, program participants were able to receive 18 clues. To encourage participation, the first clues were relatively easy to solve. Clue difficulty increased as time progressed.

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