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She spent her winnings on new work-out clothes – Michele’s Story

Michele Durkin is a 51-year old mother of two. She is in her third year of employment at Pacific Blue Cross. Today, she works as a Customer Services Representative.

Like many office jobs, she spends a good portion of the day sitting. Despite an honest desire to lose a few pounds and a couple of regular exercise classes at her local community centre, it wasn’t until her employer, Pacific Blue Cross, offered a Health Challenge complete with daily boot camp classes, that Michele saw the pounds start to disappear.

In 2010, Michele joined Pacific Blue Cross’ Employee Wellness contest. Ten minutes into the first boot camp-style class, she could feel the sweat rolling down her back...and she was smiling. “To be really honest I don’t like sweating but when you’re there, it’s pretty great.”

As the wellness campaign drew to a close she was one of many voices asking the leadership to continue with the health classes. They agreed and so the 2011 Health Challenge was launched. Despite an aggravated knee injury that was soon after diagnosed as Osteoarthritis, Michele successfully modified many of the exercises and went on to win the challenge by losing 11.2 pounds and 13.7 inches over the course of 3 months. She spent her winnings on new work-out clothes.

Despite a well-rounded health and wellness program that includes lunchtime yoga and meditation, an onsite fitness facility and various health-related lunch and learns, the Health Challenge really struck a chord with Pacific Blue Cross employees. Registration was limited to the first 70 people to sign up, and it filled up fast. The cost to employees was a flat $30. Participants could choose which classes to attend. Classes were offered from 4:30 to 5:30pm in our auditorium and were led by personal trainers from Bodyzone fitness.

The flexibility and affordability of the 13-week program is what helped get Michele on the road to wellness. “It couldn’t be any easier. It’s here I’m here. The opportunity is there so why not go for it?”

While many people can take the initiative to get healthy on their own, many of us need support from different areas in our lives. Michele was lucky to have her daughters at home nudging her in the right direction, while at the same time her workplace came through with an affordable, flexible and convenient opportunity to exercise.

After a year of sustained effort, Michele has changed: “I feel much better, I sleep much better. I’m more alert. I can do my job better. In my job I have to be on the ball. It all goes together.”

Michele’s story was also featured in the Vancouver Province on April 8, 2012.

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