Genna Albano's circuit training class, including BeWell Champions Katie Guynn and Tommy Marullo, having fun with the BeWell wall sitting challenge.
The 2015-2016 Be Well program concluded in September with 194 employees reaching the top level – Soar – having earned at least 5,000 points. At the end of the program, two Be Well champions were chosen at random to win the grand prize raffle. This year’s winners were Tommy Marullo ‘01 and Katie Guynn.
By coincidence, Tommy and Katie are both regulars in Genna Albano’s circuit training class at Taylor Gym, which is held on Mondays and Wednesdays over the lunch hour.
Spotlight sat down with Tommy and Katie to find out what Be Well means to them and how they achieved the pinnacle of the program.
Spotlight: What do you do at Lehigh?
Tommy: I help the civil engineering faculty and students conduct experiments that impose earthquakes on structures they’ve designed or modified at the ATLSS research facility on Mountaintop campus. A month after earning my MS in computer engineering at Lehigh, I was hired to enhance the technical capabilities of the lab. I like to say I break stuff for a living.
Katie: Director for Student-Athlete Academic Services. I help our student athletes balance their academic needs with the demands of their sport.
Spotlight: Is wellness something you’ve always been concerned about?
Tommy: It’s important to me to have an overall lifestyle that’s healthy and fit. I’ve used Taylor Gym since I started. I even keep a spreadsheet of all of my HealthSCAN data since 2004 and created my own calorie counting program before it became popular. However, I am a sucker for ice cream at night and never count that!
Katie: I was a two-sport athlete in college, so I have had a focus on fitness, but when I started working at Lehigh 2 ½ years ago, I was commuting from Philadelphia and definitely hit a wellness rut.
Tommy: I also did the Philly to Lehigh commute like Katie for 2 years and it does a number on your body. Adding the Be Well program to my daily routine helped immensely.
Spotlight: How has Be Well helped you achieve your wellness goals? How else have you benefited?
Tommy: Through the Be Well benefit, I do group fitness classes at Taylor Gym. They are the best motivation for me to exercise. It can be a struggle at times to fit the lunchtime classes in since people may need me at any moment in the day, especially when we’re doing experiments. But if I have time, I’m going.
One great thing about the Be Well program is that it expanded into my family. Genna also teaches at a local gym and encouraged my wife to try the classes there and she fell in love with group exercise. It’s changed her lifestyle to where she’s waking up every morning at 5:00 a.m. to get in her exercise before her day as a stay at home mom begins.
Katie: Dean of Students does a really good job of onboarding. All I heard about from my colleagues was how great Be Well was and how I’d be crazy not to do it. I thought ‘what is this?’ It was great to have the incentive to get back on the wagon, too. I signed up for Be Well and then started getting into the rhythm of using the locker room and taking classes a couple of times a week.
I also feel a lot more part of the Lehigh community than I did at my previous employer and I think it’s in large part because of the Be Well program. I cross paths with employees I would never meet. They’re my buddies who I see every week.
Spotlight: What would you say about getting started?
Tommy: One of the stigmas that group fitness classes have is that they’re for women only. I felt the intimidation of going into a group when I first started. So, I’ve tried to convince my male colleagues to just try them. And the ones who have couldn’t believe how sore they were after, in a good way! No one is there to judge others. We all motivate each other to achieve our goals.
And when you’re told you’ll get free money for exercising, a Fitbit and Amazon gift cards, why not take advantage of it to its full potential? I know I was one of the first employees to get a Fitbit because I was so eager to participate in the Be Well program when it started.
Katie: The incentive of reimbursing you half of the cost of the fitness classes at Lehigh is unbelievable. You can’t beat it. It’s affordable, it’s convenient. And Genna does such a tremendous job. We’re lucky to have her.
When there are free things involved, it’s not hard to get me motivated. I was really motivated this fall to get the new Fitbit. I love the Amazon gift cards. I’ve used them for running shoes, but I’ve also bought treats as well.
The idea of there being incentives, but knowing that everything you’re doing is good for you is motivation in and of itself. Knowing other people are doing the same challenges is really fun. When you hit the top level, you get that great Dri-fit Be Well shirt and it’s really a badge of honor. When someone in our fitness classes earns it and wears it for the first time, it’s a celebration almost.
Finally, don’t be intimidated. Not all of the challenges are exercise.
Spotlight: What challenges have you been particularly enthusiastic about?
Tommy: The daily challenges are great, things like cutting out sugar and taking breaks and getting away from the computer. It’s all about taking care of yourself. It’s so easy to fall into bad habits and keep junk food in your desk or stare at the computer and not breathe properly. Thanks to one of the challenges, I don’t have processed snacks in my drawer anymore.
The wall sit challenge was my favorite challenge. It seemed incredibly unachievable at first, but then the circuit training group started motivating and challenging each other. We would sending emails saying “I did four minutes today,” or sharing pictures of ourselves doing wall sits in random places (photos at right) to keep it fun.
Katie: I like any of the challenges that involve the Fitbit. And the team challenges are particularly great. I’m on a Dean of Students team for the Walk to the Moon challenge. Last year I did really well with the Halloween candy one.
I also like the webinars. I can’t always do them live so being able to do them later is really helpful. I did the CPR training. That was such a great benefit to be able to take that training and get points for it.
I agree with, Tommy, wall-sitting was fun. I even talked my co-workers into doing wall sits with me while we were having short meetings in the hallway.
Spotlight: Do you have any tips for racking up points to reach the Soar level?
Tommy: I try to log in every day. If you log in every day you get a point. It sounds tiny, but it adds up and helps you progress. Be Well is on my toolbar on my web browser. Also, keep scanning through and see what new challenges appear from time to time and be sure to sign up for them.
Katie: To get started quickly and start earning points right away, make sure you sign up for HealthSCAN every fall. It’s really easy. I register for the first spot of the day so I can do it on my way into work. It sounds weird, but HealthSCAN is kind of social, too. You run into people who are there year after year, it becomes a habit.
I also have BeWell on my bookmarks bar on my browser and check in to log my activity during transition times between work tasks.
Spotlight: What prize did you choose and why?
Tommy: I chose the fruit of the month club. I’ve been thrilled with it for two months now. It helps to keep me focused on healthy eating too.
Katie: I chose the spa day. I thought about the fruit, but I thought, I’ve never indulged in a spa day and it’s something I would never spend money on. It’s so exciting, it’s going to be awesome.