Neighbor v. neighbor

Siskey YMCA challenges neighbors to fitness contest

by Abbie Bennett

The Siskey YMCA is pitting neighbor against neighbor in this year’s Backyard Fitness Challenge. The team that has trained the most and received the most points at the end of July, wins.

“The challenge winners are determined by the total number of trainings among each team at the end,” said David Buzo, community marketing director for the Siskey YMCA. “It’s not a weight loss contest, but a total of how many times each member of a team trains which makes up a team points total.” The winning team will receive T-shirts.

The challenge is in its fourth week and Buzo said he’s pleased with the effort so far.
“The participation level per team is higher than expected,” he said. “The participants generally like the accountability factor of having to come to the Siskey branch to workout and get their point.”

Teams receive one point per workout at the Siskey YMCA. Buzo said any physical workout that takes place at the Siskey branch counts for the challenge.

“Most workouts take place at our main fitness center, but group exercise classes, water aerobics and even our outdoor track gets utilized by participants,” he said.

Buzo said there are seven teams this year with six people per team, totaling 42 participants. The zip codes represented this year are 28105, 28227, 28110, 28270, 28079, 28104 and 28211.

Buzo said the goal of the Backyard Fitness Challenge was community building among members of the YMCA and other local residents.

“Our main inspiration was to build teamwork among the members and a sense of community,” he said. “We also wanted to keep members focused and exercising in the middle of the summer.”
Buzo said the fitness challenge also is helping members of the community identify with their neighborhoods better.

“The Backyard Challenge allows members to be grouped by zip code or neighborhoods, which helps with that sense of community or closeness,” he said. “We offered our members (the chance) to wear colored bandanas to identify their teammates in the YMCA. Each team was assigned a color and it made for a fun way for members to get fit by working out to get points for their team and meet others who may live near them.”

According to Buzo, the challenge is important because it emphasizes teamwork.

“It builds a strong rapport within our community and provides accountability for participants themselves and their teammates,” he said.

Rebecca Hetherington, a Siskey YMCA employee, is participating in the challenge on a team representing the 28277 area code. Hetherington said she wanted to take part to promote the contest.

“I feel that it is a great way for members and staff of the YMCA to get together and exercise,” she said. “It helps promote a healthy lifestyle as well as it allows the participants to reach out and meet members that they may have not known within their area (zip) code.”

Hetherington said she enjoyed meeting new people as a result of participating in the challenge.

“Through the program I hoped to meet the new members on my team and help motivate them to workout at least three to five times a week,” she said. “I really enjoy helping others achieve their goals so I figured this program would be great. I hoped that the members of my team would be able to meet more people within the YMCA and be able to make friends that could be potential exercise buddies in the future.”

As a fitness instructor, Hetherington said she works out mainly at the Siskey branch.
“I work out at the Siskey YMCA 99.9 percent of the time,” she said. “Since I already work there, I tend to stay after my shift and workout. The atmosphere and people are what really make working out enjoyable there.”

For Hetherington, the challenge has helped her with her overall fitness goals.

“My personal goals are to stay in shape and keep motivated throughout the challenge,” she said. “Since I have been working out more, I have been focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle to help achieve an overall state of well-being.”

Hetherington said her experience with the Backyard Fitness Challenge has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I feel that my experience so far with the challenge has been very beneficial to me because it has helped me stay accountable for how often I work out and has kept me on a steady schedule,” she said. “I hope by the end of the challenge that my other teammates have learned the value of working out and how it will help you out, health wise, in the long run.”

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