Exactly half of Miller Capilano Maintenance Co.’s 50 Sea to Sky employees took part in a recent voluntary fitness challenge staged jointly by employees and management with the aim of improving camaraderie, self-esteem and worker performance.
The results: An average 26 per cent improvement in overall fitness among the 25 participants based on before-and-after testing on a series of exercises designed by Challenge by Choice Performance Coaching, which operates out of a private gym not far from the Miller Capilano yard in the Squamish Industrial Park.
Beyond the numbers, the workers realized benefits that can’t be measured on a stopwatch or push-up counter, representatives of both companies said during a lunchtime celebration to mark the end of the challenge on Friday (June 29).
“The spin-offs I’ve noticed is there’s more team spirit, more working together,” said Larry Paradis, Miller Capilano Sea to Sky manager of operations.
Jean Francois (JF) Plouffe, head coach for Challenge by Choice, said the idea was to convince those who were already pretty fit to push themselves and those who were less so to make a long-term lifestyle change.
Plouffe said research has shown that workers who are more fit tend to be more agile and alert on the job — important for those working long hours dispatching or driving snowplows on Highway 99, for example.
As the challenge progressed, “Some of [the participants] emailed or texted me and said, ‘Gee, I’m not even sure I’m going for the prize anymore. I just like how I feel,’” Plouffe told the group that gathered at the back of the company compound on Midway Street.
“To me, that’s where I cash my cheque. That’s why I love what I do.”
Jen Segger, world-class endurance athlete and Challenge by Choice owner, said that since the Miller Capilano challenge began last fall, she has had inquiries from other local employers hoping to do something similar.
“It’s really inspired other businesses to take it on, too,” she said.
When the challenge began, participants had their fitness tested in a variety of activities — a 2.5-kilometre run, the number of push-ups and sit-ups in one minute, a box jump, an agility drill and a kettle ball swing. They were then offered training at Challenge by Choice or encouraged to work out on their own, tested again periodically and then tested one final time to give organizers the challenge’s results.
Separate prizes were offered to those who performed best on the combined fitness tests — presumably those who were fittest to begin with — and those who saw the greatest improvement during the six months. The prizes included a night for two at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and dinner at Gotham Steakhouse in Vancouver, a six-month membership at Challenge by Choice, catered dinners at the West Coast Railway Heritage Park and a free, one-hour massage.
Morgan Newton was named the winner in the most-improved category, with his overall fitness having improved by a whopping 111 per cent. He said he also lost 40 pounds during the challenge. Other big winners were Bob Biln, Steve Drummond and Merv Stalkie.
For more information about Challenge by Choice, visit www.challengebychoice.ca