P.E. instructor turns talents to improve fitness of district staff

Sometimes, the biggest ideas come from the smallest notions.

Just ask Carson High physical education instructor Erin Been.

After the first of the year, Been heard the usual grumblings from colleagues about how to get back, or stay, in shape.

She said the people she works with in the district are "usually pretty active" but, in this, she heard story after story about how hard it is to balance work with a healthy lifestyle - especially when it gets dark around 4 p.m.

"I think it's a challenge everyone faces every year," Been said. "We live in a great area and people choose to be here because of the (outdoor) activities; but some times of the year are harder than others."

The solution: Been put together a simple 10-week fitness program that employees from the district could sign on and do at their leisure.

It wasn't a fundraiser. It wasn't mandatory. It was simply an efficient and group-supported way to "get out there and do something," Been said.

Tracking progress was based on a simple formula using one's mileage as the gauge.

The program ended Friday and the results, Been said, were astonishing: 101 district employees racked some 18,261 miles between them.

"You forget about how many miles you put on just doing your every day life," Been said. "Personally, I was amazed.

"I teach P.E., so I do a lot of miles every day. But, it really helps you see what you're doing and what you're not - you actually see a pattern pretty early on."

Participants began by categorizing themselves based on the amount of mileage they thought they'd complete over the 10 weeks; novice (up to 75 miles), intermediate (up to 300 miles) and advanced (300 or more miles).

"I think a lot of people - including myself - didn't think they were so active," she said, "until they started keeping track. Then, I think it was like 'hey, I can do more'."

With the help of school district trustee Barbara Howe, who donated pedometers and water bottles, the 300 participants who originally signed on for the program in early March started tracking progress.

Though only one-third of the district's participants kept track of their totals during whole of the 10 weeks (a formula for mileage was also charted for activities like swimming, aerobics, riding bikes and skiing, Been said), the first year of the program was "beyond successful," Been said.

"The goal was just to get people to get up, move and record their miles," she said. "We kind of put it together quickly and I'm just really happy anyone participated."

The idea for the 10-week fitness test came from Been's time teaching in Clark County, she said. There the program was called a "health trot."

"We have a smaller district here," Been said. "But I thought we could do it better - and it turns out, we did pretty well."

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