C-Fit, Chesterfield County's wellness program, offers employees a wide range of programs to get healthy and active.
By: Nan Turner
Chesterfield County government and school employees and retirees are getting fit, and they’re doing it through an innovative wellness initiative called C-Fit.
In addition to the comprehensive program, the county has a workout facility and walking trails on site at the government offices, and weight rooms at various schools have been turned into areas where faculty can exercise. According to Lynne Wingfield, Chesterfield’s Employee Wellness Coordinator, the goal of the program is to replicate facilities and amenities like these across the county so that they’re easily accessible to all government employees.
“We offer classes from ballroom dancing, to yoga, to boot camp, to martial arts,” Wingfield said. “We offer classes from 6:00a.m. to 7:30p.m., with more than 35 classes. We have between 12,000 and 13,000 employees so we’d like to offer something that fits in with everyone’s schedule.” All classes are free for government and school employees, just one of the many incentives offered by C-Fit.
Wingfield and the Chesterfield County Government program have recently earned Active RVA certification from Sports Backers’ Active RVA Community Awards program. Before Wingfield was in her current position, she worked in the school system for 26 years as the Supervisor for Health and Physical Education programs. In this role she worked directly with Sports Backers on their various youth running programs, and after hearing about Active RVA, knew Chesterfield County would be great fit for the new program.
C-Fit was started in January 2010, and Wingfield and others surveyed staff to create what Chesterfield County employees said they wanted in terms of physical activity offerings. Since then, Wingfield has continued to work off that strategic plan to strengthen the program.
C-Fit now encompasses everything from the workout classes, to physical activity challenges, discounts at local gyms and fitness centers and even even employee support groups.
With the challenges, school faculty, government employees and various other departments compete against each other by keeping a log of their physical activity. Recently cafeteria workers had a competition against each other where they kept track of their steps using pedometers, with the winners earning a party featuring massage chairs.
“People will do a lot for a neck rub,” Wingfield said of the popularity of the competition.
The support groups vary, and cover topics such as elder care, for those helping to care for a loved one. C-Fit partners with Chesterfield’s mental health departments in order to provide employees with qualified group leaders. Combining county resources has been a great way to put together multiple programs without increasing costs.
The program is all about trying to cater to everyone’s individual wellness needs, something the workout classes do as well.
“We’ve got very gentle yoga that can be good for people with joint problems, up to intense boot camps where you’re running around the woods throwing logs,” Wingfield said.
C-Fit classes are offered in six-week sessions with one week off so participants can register again if they wish. Pilates was the first and only class offered at the program’s start, but the demand soon required it to be offered four more times a week. However, Wingfield said it’s the instruction, as much as the actual activities, that keeps people coming back.
“As we’ve added more and more classes, all the instructors have just been fabulous,” Wingfield said. “People come back and participate if they connect with an instructor. They’ve become a part of the program, people really like them.”
Another reason Wingfield believes participants have reacted so well to the instructors is because they are similar in age to those taking the classes.
“We’ve got a middle-aged employee base,” Wingfield said. “These people aren’t 23, and neither are the instructors. People look at them like they’re real people. A lot of these people have never been in a fitness center, and having an instructor like them helps them feel like they fit in.”
As the number of fitness classes increased, so did the demand for instructors. There are now 12 different vendors, and not just one company participating - something Wingfield considers a strength.
C-Fit also offers discounts on some local races such as the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Last year Chesterfield County had 200 employees run in the event, and this year Wingfield hopes to see that number bump up to 300.
Part of what makes C-Fit so successful is the support behind it. There is an advisory group that approves programming and meets on an annual basis. There is a Task Force group, made up of members of the school system and county government, which works directly with Wingfield and helps her develop strategic plans.
“They’re my brain,” Wingfield said. “They are all in different areas, so they’re able to figure out what’s needed.”
Then there are the Wellness Warriors, who serve as contacts in every school or department.
“They’re our cheerleaders,” Wingfield said. “All of the info is sent out over email, but they make sure people are excited over it.”
As for the impact of C-Fit on Chesterfield County employees, Wingfield has heard plenty of success stories. She said nothing makes her day more than getting an email from someone saying their weight is down and they feel better in the classroom or at work.
Wingfield feels fortunate that she’s in a position to help others lead a healthy and active lifestyle and that Chesterfield County leadership and staff have been so receptive to C-Fit. “When you start a program, you’re not following in anyone’s footsteps and it makes it easier,” Wingfield said. “It’s a nice place to be.”