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A little healthy competition spurred almost 1,000 people to join in the first MIT getfit@mit challenge, which wrapped up this month. Participants together logged more than 4 million workout minutes.
The 12-week program, which started Jan. 9, was a collaboration between MIT Medical, Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center, MIT Health Plans, Center for Health Promotion and Wellness, Lincoln Lab Fitness Center and Web Communication Services. A total of 134 five- to eight-person teams participated, including staff, students and faculty.
"It seemed like people responded favorably," said Katherine Wahl, communications coordinator for MIT Medical.
The object was to log the most average minutes per team member. Members of Las Listas, the team that won the all-around grand prize, will each receive gym bags featuring their team's name.
Teams who qualified by logging 150 minutes each in a week were entered to win small prizes, including movie tickets and gift certificates. Contests were held for most creative team name, which went to Darned Nice Abs (DNA), and most team spirit, which went to Titanes de las Pesas.
"We wanted to give little opportunities to celebrate along the way," said Wahl at the April 14 closing celebration. The afternoon party offered food and a variety of other goodies to all participants to reward their efforts.
The Meltdowns received "most improved" over the course of the three months.
"I had a lot of fun," said Jan Outcalt, administrative assistant in Nuclear Engineering who chose the team name because the members all work in the Nuclear Engineering Department. "For us, it was about melting down fat," she said with a laugh.
Though Outcalt biked regularly before she started the challenge, the competition did help motivate her on cold winter days. "It reminded me on the days I did not feel like it," she said.
For the purposes of the challenge, exercise was broadly defined. "The weekend where we had a lot of snow in January, there was a lot of snow shoveling listed as exercise," Wahl said. A variety of activities including yoga and guided walks through the MIT tunnels were offered to keep people moving.
Participants logged their minutes online and were able to chat and chart their progress on the same web site.
"We are very pleased with the results of this," said Wahl. "We hope to do it again soon."