June 27, 2014 : By Ted Allen
Liberty University faculty and staff accepted Live Healthy Lynchburg’s Strive for Five challenge and ran with it this spring.
Out of 86 organizations and more than 1,100 people that participated, Liberty employees logged the most hours (3,306) and days (2,816) of activity — ranging from running and weight training to recreational and competitive sports — on the website.
The initiative, designed to promote a more active lifestyle by integrating fitness and exercise into employees’ daily lives, prodded participants to include at least 30 minutes of exercise into their routine at least five days per week from April 7 to June 15. Stephan Redman, a business analyst apprentice in IT’s Enterprise Architecture department, surpassed all others by logging 184 hours of exercise over 70 days, mostly playing volleyball on Liberty’s beach courts.
Next up, the Liberty community is encouraged to sign up for Live Healthy Lynchburg’s 100 Mile Challenge, a web-based mileage tracking program that starts July 1 and continues through Sept. 26. Liberty is also the defending champion in that competition after faculty and staff logged 22,321 miles last summer.
Participants typically use the training program to prepare for the 41st annual Virginia 10 Miler and 4 Miler Run and Walk in Lynchburg on Sept. 27 by running or walking 100 miles or more outside of their normal business activities in the 90 days leading up to the event.
As further incentive, Liberty employees are eligible for free registration for the Sept. 27 races if they sign up as members of Team Liberty. Faculty and staff must use their Liberty email address as their username and can enter a password of their choosing. They will then be prompted for a code: Liberty2014. Deadline for Team Liberty registration is Aug. 11.
In recent years, Liberty has had the most volunteers serve at the Virginia 10 Miler events, though Centra had more official runners last fall. As the university continues to grow, Senior Vice President for Auxiliary Services Lee Beaumont would like to see its number of entries increase, and runners’ times and places improve.
At last year’s Virginia 10 Miler and 4 Miler races, Liberty placed first in three of the six categories in the corporate team competition — Women’s 10 Miler, Men’s 4 Miler, and Mixed 4 Miler — and finished second in the other three, behind Areva in the Mixed 10 Miler and the Men’s 10 Miler and behind Centra in the Women’s 4 Miler.
This year, the 10 Miler is the Road Runners Club of America’s national championship race for the 10-mile distance, after serving as its regional championship race last fall. Beaumont is hoping to attract more of Liberty’s elite runners to enable the university to challenge for corporate titles in the men’s, women’s, and mixed categories. However, he said the primary goal is to encourage people of any fitness level to participate.
“We want to make it available to everyone,” he said. “That’s the whole idea, just to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. It’s a challenging course, but the 4 Miler run is something a beginner could do after some training in the 100 Mile Challenge.”
Beaumont noted that there is also a 4 Mile walk option for those who want to participate but are not ready to tackle the 4 Miler or 10 Miler run.
On Aug. 14, Liberty will hold its grand opening of the fully renovated LaHaye Student Union, its primary workout facility. Over the past year, the fitness center has undergone a multi-million-dollar expansion, part of the university’s $500 million campus rebuilding, and it will feature more than $1 million in new equipment.
“It’s going to be beautiful,” said Jamie Swyers, associate director of fitness at the LaHaye Student Union. “We’re so excited. We cannot wait to open it.”
The fitness center will be open to registered employees from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and weekends starting in the fall semester.
“We’re going to be launching a whole group of faculty- and staff-only classes next semester,” Swyers said.
On Aug. 20, in the middle of the first week of the fall semester, the LaHaye Student Union will host a health fair to showcase the renovated facility, which will offer a wide array of exercise options and flexible hours.
“The whole idea is to make it free and easy and give you a breadth of things you can do, whether you want to do a cycling or a group exercise class or work out on machines or walk on the new indoor track,” Beaumont said. “We’ll be able to cater to everyone —from someone who is recovering from an injury and needs to do basic exercises to those who want to powerlift with bumper weights or train to compete in competitive sports.”