Fitbit fuels competition

Faculty participate in four school-wide wellness challenge, utilize fitness tracking devices.

Grace Ainslie, Senior Reporter

Faculty members from each of the four schools and Central Services are competing with each other throughout the month of May as part of a Fitbit Challenge through the Wellness Program, designed to encourage faculty members’ healthy habits.

Participants received Fitbits, a device which counts how many steps the user takes and records them online or on their mobile device, on April 28, two days before the fifth Wellness Challenge commenced, according to Human Resources Director Juli Devincenzi. In the past they have done walking challenges with pedometers.

“The idea behind it is to really get our employees to be thinking about how they’re taking care of themselves,” Devincenzi said.

The school provided participants with basic-level Fitbits, the Fitbit Zip, though faculty members could upgrade to a more advanced Fitbit and pay the cost difference themselves.

“This is my first Fitbit,” Visual Arts department chair Rachel McIntire, who is participating in the competition for Convent High School, said. “The only other tracker that I’ve used is on my phone. I really dislike having my phone on me at all times, so I’m really looking forward to that option of having a tracker on an individual device.”

The Broadway campus has over 10 flights of stairs, making it easy for participants to have high daily averages.

“We all exercise on some level, and our campus presents so many lovely steps for us to walk,” McIntire said.“We haven’t done a walking challenge in a while, but it’s a popular one because it’s easy for everyone to be engaged.”

The Fitbit app ranks each participant by the number of steps they take against other competitors. Each member’s steps goes towards his or her division school’s total steps to determine a winner between the five divisions.

“I’m really competitive,” Associate Athletic Director Cody Lee Fusco, who is competing for Convent Elementary School, said. “It’s good for me to see where everybody else is. The app has us ranked, so being able to say ‘Okay, I’m going to beat this person today,’ really encourages me to exercise more.”

The staff’s goal is to virtually walk to the Himalayas, with the participants climbing different mountain ranges including Mt. Everest.

“The goal is achievable especially since there is this whole competition factor,” Fusco said. “A lot of people will use that as motivation to walk as far as they can and get lots of steps in.”

The competition ends on May 27.

“We’ve got a huge amount of interest here and we’ve got a really healthy and active community to begin with,” Devincenzi said. “It’s great to see them so enthusiastic about this type of activity.”