Shape Up Cape gets workforce moving

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

So you think Sweat Equity is the value of the effort you put into improving your property. Or you think Sugar and Spice is what little girls are made of. Maybe you think Blew By You is a song Roy Orbison co-wrote and recorded (OK, it's Blue Bayou, but you get the picture).

These are all names of teams that participated in last year's Shape Up Cape, the state-award-winning fitness program coordinated by the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce that promotes fitness in the work place.

This year is the fifth year for Shape Up Cape, which begins May 20 and continues until Aug. 19. Area businesses and organizations form teams and their members earn points for the types and duration of exercise they do. The points are averaged and submitted each week. Winners are determined based on the average points per team member.

Winning team members get a trophy at the end of the session, but the real prize is an increased level of fitness and health.

"Just the fun of participating was enough for me," said the Rev. Mark Martin of St. Andrew's Lutheran church's team, St. Andrew's Body and Soul.

The church's team was made up of two ministers and several church members, from a stay-at-home mom to a couple of businessmen, ranging in age from "about 30 to 60-plus." Most all of them exercise routinely, Martin said. Some of them walk, he said, others run, some work out at a local fitness center. Martin runs and lifts weights.

"We all work out individually, but it is as close to a team atmosphere as you can get," Martin said. "We're encouragement for each other."

The team spirit prevailed also at Montgomery Bank which had two teams, Tonal Recall and Buff and Tuff, said Monica Walden. She would post the score results each week at the bank giving the two teams a little competition. But among the teams, the members supported and encouraged each other.

"You don't want to let down the team when you don't participate," Walden said. "If somebody doesn't work hard it pulls the whole team down."

In addition to the team spirit among the members, ranging in age from 26 to 51, "it made them exercise more," Walden said. "That's a good thing."

The Visiting Nurses Association's Go Getters didn't seem to have that competitive spirit among its team members.

"It was more like we were doing it together," said Helen Sander.

The VNA recently underwent some restructuring, Sander said, and the employees don't see much of each other as they once had. Most of them work out of the office, so the team members, ages 30 to about 62, may have felt more of a pull toward cohesiveness than competition for that reason.

The end result was the same -- better health and fitness.

"They're losing weight, getting fit, having less allergen problems," Sander said.

The Go Getters worked at an assortment of activities: Swimming, working out at a fitness center, cardiovascular exercise.

"We had lots of walking during the lunch hour up and down streets, around lagoons," Sander said. "We had people walking all over the place."

The teams all said they participated in Shape Up Cape because it was a good incentive to remain healthy and the nudge they needed to get themselves moving. Sander says she routinely exercises, but is not as diligent about it as when she participates in Shape Up Cape.

"This gives me the incentive to do something every day," she said.

"It helps get you outdoors on hot days in July and August when you would rather stay inside," said Martin.

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