Some “Get Fit ” History
Ben Higgins, a local realtor, felt the need to check on his physical health in the Spring of 2011, and decided there were some things he wanted to do to improve it. Then the idea came to him to start a program for the Lake Chelan Valley to have everyone who wanted to participate in a “Get Fit Lake Chelan Contest”. After several conversations with some of the local citizens, he found the interest was very high.
Ben decided that by going public with his idea and involving the community would add accountability to his commitment, and hopefully the community would get involved. Well Guess what, “It Worked”.
Ben Higgins’ fitness journey became eight years ago with a serious medical scare. His cardiologist told the Chelan businessman that he was lucky to be alive and that he could either change his lifestyle or die. “I was a very bad example at the time,” said Higgins. “I ate way too much, and I ate food that was bad for me.”
Higgins took his doctor’s advice to heart. He started walking. The first day he made it around one downtown Chelan block. The next time he tackled two blocks. Before long he was walking three to four miles a day three times a week, which crept to five days, and now Higgins walks every day. “I haven’t missed a day in over seven years,” he said.
When Higgins went back to his cardiologist a year after his medical scare, the doctor didn’t recognize him; he had lost so much weight! Higgins felt better too. “I enjoy life more,” he said, “and I can do things I couldn’t do before. Being more fit made life better for both me and my family.”
After enjoying his improved health and energy for a few years, Higgins decided he needed a little extra motivation. He also wanted to help others get healthier. “I’d seen the show the Biggest Loser,” he said, “and I thought it would be fun to start something like that here, but with no one getting thrown out.”
Higgins bought T-shirts, put up prize money and paid for participants’ first month gym membership at Lake Chelan Fitness. The program was a success. Participants lose weight, and the motivation helped Higgins stay fit. When he went out, people asked him how far he had walked or what he had eaten that day. He got on the radio every Monday morning and reported his weight. “Good, bad or ugly,” he said. “And it made me more accountable.”
Up until then, the “Get Fit Team” was pretty much Ben and myself (Tony Rose) the owner of Lake Chelan Network. I quickly put together a website for the Get Fit Challenge to help promote the idea, and promoted it on our Chelan,com website. The community quickly got behind it. KOZI radio would talk with Ben each week, and Jay Witherbee would provide bikes for the bike rides free of charge. The Lake Chelan community now had a new challenge for a healthier lifestyle.
After the Fall Get Fit Challenge came to an end, Ben approached the Lake Chelan Community Hospital with the idea to make it a part of their community programs. He was met with open arms about the project.
Brad Hankins at Lake Chelan Community hospital stated that “ the Get Fit program has been the most successful community participation program that they have been involved in to date”.
With 187 participants it was a true challenge to put together in a very short period of time. We had weekly meetings to co-ordinate the program and were able to recruit Chelan Printing and Custom Signs to help with the signs, posters, and marketing materials. KOZI then took the lead in recruiting businesses to participate, and the Lake Chelan Network was busy fine tuning the website for the upcoming event. Ben Higgins continued to be the catalyst behind the project, and of course Brad Hankins, Celeste Thomas, Agustin Benegas, and the complete Staff at LCCH put in a mammoth amount of effort to make all of this happen.
As we approach the finish line of the Spring “Get Fit Lake Chelan” challenge, we are looking forward to the final tests and results. The winners will be announced and prize money will be awarded on June 5, 2012.
While participants in “Get Fit Lake Chelan” won’t be expected to report their weight in the media (all information is confidential), Higgins hopes the challenge will encourage them to eat better and move more. He knows from experience that physical health makes a big difference in life. “When I feel good physically, it makes everything else seem better too,” he said.
Where Do We Go From Here?
We are planning a fall “Get Fit “ program as well, although it will be a more compact version of the Spring challenge, it will have some great new incentives as other Lake Chelan Businesses step up to help us make sure that we stay fit through the winter. We will be talking with local restaurants about offering healthy menu items as well. This will also give all of the people in the community that missed the deadline to be able to sign up and participate as well. More details will be forthcoming. Please keep visiting the Get Fit Lake Chelan website throughout the Summer as we will continue to post updates along with new recipes and tips as well.
As we go down the final stretch to the finish line we want to post a big THANK YOU to our sponsors. Chelan Realty, Lake Chelan Network, KOZI Radio, Chelan Printing and Signs, Lake Chelan Community Hospital, Chelan Fresh, Chelan Fruit, Chelan Red Apple Market, Manson Red Apple Market, England Chiropractic, Lake Chelan Clinic, Take Shape For Life, Heartfelt Fitness, Lake Chelan Sports, and Yogachelan.