In the City of Woodland, attention to wellness and fitness is on the rise. Since 2014, the city’s Commit2Fit program has brought together local government agencies and businesses to focus on promoting healthy living and to collaboratively provide free fitness classes, seminars and other programs to community members of all ages. Commit2Fit is a month-long fitness challenge offered twice during each calendar year. To earn recognition and fitness-themed prizes, participants track the amount of time they exercise either alone or at one of the free fitness classes offered by program partners.
Dismal Statistics Highlight Community Health Issues
Results of Woodland Joint Unified School District’s 2013 Physical Fitness Test showed that only 24.2 percent of fifth graders, 31.1 percent of seventh graders and 26.4 percent of ninth graders met all six physical fitness standards (aerobic capacity, body composition, abdominal strength, trunk extension and strength, upper body strength and flexibility). Furthermore, Yolo County’s 2014 Healthy Yolo Community Health Assessment indicated that 36 percent of men and 34 percent of women in Yolo County were overweight, and 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women were obese.
In 2014, Mayor Tom Stallard worked with the city’s Community Services Department on ways to address increasing concern about the health of community residents. As a result, the city formed a committee that comprised local health clubs Cross Court Athletic Club, Oasis Club and Spa, Kaia FIT Woodland and In-Shape; the YMCA; the Woodland Joint Unified School District; Yolo County Health and Human Services Agency; Dignity Health; and recreation-oriented local businesses such as Velocity Island Water Park, NorCal Indoor Sports, and Kuk Sool Won Martial Art Center. The committee discussed how to promote healthy, active living in the community, and the concept for the Commit2Fit program grew out of this effort. Subsequently, several of these organizations and businesses have partnered with the city by hosting Commit2Fit program activities and/or providing other support to develop the calendar of free events throughout Woodland.
“Commit2Fit created partnerships that might not have happened otherwise,” says Rebecca Tryon, health program coordinator for Yolo County. “It strengthened the relationship between partner agencies by sharing local resources and opportunities to engage in wellness activities.”
Kickoff Event Promotes Fitness Challenge
The program conducted the first 30-day fitness challenge in November 2014, and twice yearly after that. Before every Commit2Fit challenge in May and November, a kickoff event is held where participants can sign up for the program and learn about the partner agencies and businesses that are offering free exercise classes during the month-long challenge. Each partner agency and business is invited to host a booth at the event and share information about its services. The partners also provide free services at the event, such as blood pressure testing and body fat assessments. Some groups host mini challenges like jump rope and push-up competitions. Yolo County brings a “smoothie bike,” a pedal-powered blender used to mix fresh fruit smoothies for attendees.
The month-long fitness challenges focus on free activities that have included indoor cycling, Zumba, paddleboarding, swimming, indoor skating, boot camp workouts and walking with the mayor. Activities are geared to various age groups ranging from children to seniors. Participants are given opportunities to try unique workouts for free. The first fitness challenge included 55 activities. Some Commit2Fit partners have enhanced the offerings by providing free unlimited gym memberships during the program sessions. Participants earn two raffle tickets for each free class they attend, or can work out on their own for a minimum of 30 minutes and earn one raffle ticket per exercise session.
At the end of each month-long challenge, the city hosts a raffle event for fitness challenge participants. Many of the partnering agencies and businesses donate gift baskets or gym membership packages as prizes. The city also gives away prizes such as Fitbit fitness trackers or outdoor gear. Yolo County’s Nutrition Education Team prepares a healthy recipe for participants to sample and learn to prepare.
City Library and Municipal Staff Join the Effort
In 2016, the Woodland Public Library launched a complementary 12-week Commit2Fit Wellness Program from January through March that focused on providing information on nutrition, the importance of physical activity and health-related topics such as weight loss, diabetes prevention and heart health. The program included a Wednesday speaker series with subjects ranging from edible gardens to avoiding chronic disease and disability. Residents also gathered at a local park on Saturdays for community walks. Grants from the California State Library and the Woodland Friends of the Library supported the Commit2Fit Wellness Program.
Commit2Fit also promotes wellness to Woodland’s municipal staff through a “gauntlet” challenge held before the month-long community challenge begins. The city created the Employee Gauntlet program to bring city staff together to compete in a fun but challenging timed obstacle course. Participants in the employee competition also register for the month-long Commit2Fit challenge. The winning teams earn a trophy and bragging rights, creating camaraderie among city staff.
Residents’ feedback about Commit2Fit has been positive. Key factors in the success of the program include the variety of activities offered, the participation of many partner agencies throughout the community and the sense of community generated by engaging with others interested in developing and sustaining healthy lifestyles.
“I have met many community members who have expressed their own success with Commit2Fit,” says Melika Salvemini, owner of Oasis Club & Spa and Kaia FIT Woodland. “It got them to try new things and helped incorporate fitness into their life. They likely wouldn’t have tried any of these programs otherwise.”
Entire families take part in Commit2Fit, giving parents the opportunity to set positive examples for their children by engaging in physical fitness and other healthy lifestyle activities. Of the total participants in Commit2Fit, 13 percent of the participants were under the age of 18. Over 1,400 individuals have participated in the program so far, with the next session set to start Nov. 1, 2017.
Public-Private Partnership’s Approach Proves Effective
As Woodland and other California communities continue to struggle with rising levels of obesity and diabetes, the need to focus on developing and sustaining healthy lifestyles remains constant. Public-private partnerships can be especially effective in successfully addressing these challenges. The partners involved with Commit2Fit have seen direct results from the program, including increased membership and residents’ continued participation in the fitness and wellness challenges.
Commit2Fit offers an innovative and successful example of creating a public-private partnership to bring a community together with the goal of achieving good health.