Daly City fitness events seek to motivate workers 

click to enlarge The city plans to hold events on a quarterly basis, but during September's Wellness Month, the events will be weekly. - BRENDAN P. BARTHOLOMEW
  • Brendan P. Bartholomew
  • The city plans to hold events on a quarterly basis, but during September's Wellness Month, the events will be weekly.

Daly City officials traded in their business attire for workout clothes recently during one of the new fitness events the city is holding to encourage its workforce to exercise more.

During the event, dubbed the Fit Fest, employees from various city departments gathered at Pacelli Gymnasium in Westlake Park for a day of line-dancing, Zumba and tai chi. Among the group was Councilman Mike Guingona, who donned athletic shoes with neon-green soles, and City Manager Pat Martel, who said the disco and hip-hop line-dancing was a bit slow for her taste, but the Zumba dancing was just her speed.

Guingona said the new events are meant to inspire the city's 500 workers to try new forms of movement.

The city plans to hold events on a quarterly basis, but during September, which it has proclaimed Wellness Month, it will also host events on a weekly basis. Martel said those events may include cook-offs of healthy food and nutrition presentations from health plan providers.

Human Resources Director Shawnna Maltbie said the events are building inter-departmental camaraderie and tie in to a host of improvements and practices being adopted as part of the city's new wellness policy.

The policy, adopted in November, contains specific directives about what kinds of food and drink can be offered or sold in city buildings or at city-sponsored events, and it requires departments to encourage exercise and give employees movement breaks during long meetings.

Maltbie said absenteeism and productivity are impacted by the health and happiness of her workforce.

Guingona expressed similar sentiments. He said the city is looking for ways to track whether its costs are being reduced by its health initiative.

"I've read studies that say having a healthy employee base increases your bottom line," Guingona said. "We believe there's a tangible benefit to this."

Maltbie points with pride to the fact that, in keeping with the wellness policy, city buildings have been purged of vending machines containing candy and sugary beverages. In their place are new machines selling granola bars, iced teas and fruit juices.

Martel candidly admitted the healthy vending machines haven't proved as popular as the junk food dispensers they replaced. However, she said workers have shown up for the Fit Fests with minimal prodding from management.

"They pretty much just appeared on their own," Martel said.

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