By Ms. Elyssa Vondra (Jackson)January 16, 2019
The Watch Your Steps competition is kicking off Jan. 16, just in time for the lull in New Year's resolutions.
Teams of at least 37 Fort Jackson employees, their spouses and active-duty service members will compete to see who can take the most steps toward good health during the 10-week walk and wellness program.
Competitors have several goals: walk more, read more motivational and educational material, drink more water and do more yoga and exercise.
They earn points for each. The team with the highest tally at the end is crowned the winner.
The intention is to help participants find a way to fit exercise and health education into their daily lives, said Pam Long, a Fort Jackson fitness and wellness specialist.
It also builds a bond between coworkers, she added.
"You become a part of a team," Long said. It helps "make a healthier you."
Debbie Roomsburg, outdoor recreation administrative specialist and Joe E. Mann building coordinator, a captain last year, thinks the team element is key.
"You have more motivation … more support" in a group setting, she said.
"It's always easier to have somebody by your side ... (to) hold your hand," Roomsburg added. "It was always great to have someone to laugh with."
During lunch breaks, her team would walk together, attend yoga classes or do alternate exercises such toe taps, squats or step-ups.
Roomsburg sees the contest as beneficial to morale and health.
Roomsburg said her building's employees, herself included, are largely sedentary.
Many sit for up to 10 hours every day, only getting up to go to the restroom or the break room, she added.
Roomsburg said that for her, the goal in competing was to help incorporate more activity into their lives.
While she might not be a captain in 2019 because of arthritis complications, Roomsburg says she will still keep moving, as she plans to live to be 102 years old.
"I try to keep up year-round" with fitness, she said. With the start of every new year, she said she tries to make her resolution to be healthier last longer.
Keeping up the good work is key to winning the Watch Your Steps challenge.
Until the final day, team members increase their scores by taking steps and drinking water.
A variety of exercises win points for the team.
"There were plenty of activities for people with special needs," Roomsburg said. "Say you had a knee problem and you couldn't do step ups, but you could do butt kicks … there was always an alternative."
In the calisthenics section, every 100 repetitions of an exercise completed per week by an individual raises the team's rating.
The "try something new category" gives competitors points for attending yoga classes.
Scores increase in the "fit to read" category when they pass quizzes, created by Long, on select health-related articles.
The reading section is important because "it increases your awareness in fitness and health," Long said.
The selections give insight on carbs, the "dangers of sugar," why proper hydration is important, why sodium intake should be limited, and many more topics, Long said.
A wellness passport tracker details participants' progress.
As a captain, Roomsburg kept track of her teammates' points and reported their weekly results to Long.
She was the self-described "motivator," though she admitted she was always the one "moaning" about doing squats.
She quipped that her team probably requested to do them often since they knew she hated squats and lunges. It's how they got back at her for "irritating" them about being healthy during the challenge, she joked.
Since everyone on her team worked in the Joe E. Mann building, Roomsburg said she was able to "motivate (them) during business hours."
She always made sure they were moving and staying hydrated, though one of her teammates, a former Marine, hated drinking water.
Trying to get her to drink even one glass per day was "ridiculous," Roomsburg said, but she kept on her.
During their twice-daily 15 minute breaks, Roomsburg's teammates would grab a partner and do laps in the ballroom.
Results varied from one individual to the next. Some lost inches.
While weight isn't considered in the tally, Long does weigh-ins at buildings that get at least 12 employees to sign up.
She does a second round of weight checks at the end of the competition so individuals can track their own health and growth.
Roomsburg commented that initiatives like Watch Your Step are important because many people want to improve their fitness, but they don't know where to start.
These programs give them the guidance and encouragement they need to change their lives for the better, she added.