Guilford gets FIT, as town employees compete for prizes

Published: Monday, February 16, 2009
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Some town employees are hoping to walk and diet their way to prizes from local businesses in the town’s ongoing wellness challenge.

The program, which officials are calling Guilford FIT — Feeling Invigorated Together — sets up a point system to encourage participants to exercise and eat better. Fifteen teams of between four and six employees are in the second week of the challenge, which is scheduled to last 10 weeks.

Selectwoman Cynthia Cartier, who is in her first term, said she was interested in starting an initiative to help workers improve physical fitness. A wellness committee began meeting last summer and the current challenge kicked off two weeks ago with a wellness fair that attracted 100 town employees.

The town has about 175 employees, not including the school district.

“Everybody’s really jazzed up about this,” Cartier said. “This is such a positive thing.”

During the challenge, the town is offering $5 healthy lunches twice a month, health seminars and fitness classes, Cartier said. She added that she is hoping to continue the wellness initiative following the challenge period with a “boot camp” in the spring, and yoga on the beach in the summer.

Cartier said the efforts have no cost for the town, and prizes for the challenge will be donated by local businesses.

Human Resources Director Mitch Goldblatt said the program could also have a financial benefit for the town.

“We want our employees to be healthier for their own good and to reduce sick time and things like that, but on the other hand with health care costs and medical costs rising so quickly, the healthier we can keep our employees the better,” Goldblatt said. “Hopefully we’ve got less injuries on the job, less workers’ comp claims in the long run.”

The challenge includes employees from all town departments, Goldblatt said, and many of the participants are now wearing ankle pedometers to track their number of steps each day.

“People talk about how their whole families are into this, too,” he said. “There’s no quick fix here, but … if people are feeling better about themselves and feeling healthier, it’s going to transcend throughout their work productivity, as well as their own personal lives.”

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