Target has kicked off their Wellness Initiative by providing Fitbits for their 335,000 employees. With massive investment, Corporate Fitness is again in the news. One might wonder if this is all hype and PR, or whether these corporate programs, which seem to come and go, have any lasting value.
I have a single anecdotal data point to contribute to the discussion.
In 1978, I was working at Xerox and corporate wellness and fitness was all the rage for large, progressive corporations. Their program was not as grand as Target current initiative, but given the 1970s technology, it was state of the art.
The handed out copies (it was Xerox) of monthly calendars for employees to log the miles they ran. After you ran 50 or 100 miles, you got a T-shirt. Not much compared to the $1 million prize Target is offering..
Did this work?
Well … in 1978 I was a cigarette smoking computer scientist – not so uncommon in those days. However, I took my running log, stopped smoking, and maintained the log long enough to turn in a record for my 100 miles and get my t-shirt.
It turns out that that was enough. By 1979, I ran my first marathon and continued that for 25 years, and still exercise daily. I am scheduled to participate in a team triathlon next month.
That corporate fitness program certainly worked for me.