Federal Employee Fitness Initiative

I have just been tasked with putting together a physical fitness initiative for my agency. It is a little challenging since our headquarters office does not have a gym or any changing areas other than bathroom facilities. I was thinking of starting a walking/running group after work so employees could head straight home afterward and not have to worry about showering, etc. Does anyone else have any recommendations on federal fitness programs that have been successful at other agencies/departments?

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Michael McCarthy, APR

We do have a gym and showers at our City Hall, so some of our programs – like lunchtime aerobic classes – may be difficult to use.

However, if you have an experienced runner or walker who can lead a 5:`15 p.m. run (or whenever you close shop), or an experienced bicyclist or two who can start up a C or B ride after work – those types of efforts might work every well. For cycling, doing a “women only” ride may make some women feel more comfortable and give them both the technique skills and strength without having to mix it up with men who sprint at every corner. Men can ride too, as long as they understand the ride is about helping the new riders and keeping a steady pace. Working towards a goal – a 5K walk, rrun or a 50 mile ride, can help keep the group motivated. Having the group runs,walks, rides gets people to know others and gives them motivation to continue. And if you are looking for resources, look at what local running or biking clubs are doing and see if you can just join on to their evening runs.

Good luck!

Terrence (Terry) Hill

You don’t need fitness facilities to hold a fitness challenge. Fitness doesn’t just happen at work. I recommend establishing groups using the newly redesigned President’s Challenge website (http://www.presidentschallenge.org/) and holding a competetion between organizations in your HQ. This fun, free physical activity tracker is a great way to spur on some friendly competition.

Richard Fong


I agree you do not need fitness facility…how about walking up/down the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Or providing pedometers to staff and do a thousand step challenge, such 3k, 5k, and 10k. BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota has a ‘do’ campaign…take a walk, any walk.


Good Luck!


I agree with others – I’d have a contest to get people competing.

Also encourage groups/activities like biking to work, walking stairs, intermural softball/basketball leagues

Stephen Peteritas

A really good one to follow was what the Mississippi Senate did last year. The senators really embraced the competition and it was extremely successful. Another big part of it is getting the press there… tell them X agency is losing Y amount of lbs by a certain date it always helps push people to the finish line if they know they’ll be held accountable.

Michael McCarthy, APR

We have a yearly welllness competition, including fitness walks, swimming events, dodge ball, tug-of-war, power lfiting, running stairs, indoor triathalons (I am last year’s champion, by the way), power lifting, etc. Being a city, we have access to our recreation centers – but that may be a source for you as well if a rec center is close to your work. The events vary from needing to be in little shape to the very athletic.

Our health care provider also pays for weight watcher and smoking cessation courses, which have been very popular. Many employees have lost weight through this and enjoy the program.

Jane Moncrief

Thanks for all of the helpful suggestions! I’m still planning to start with a running/walking club after work one day a week which would include a weekly route that each employee can tailor based on their fitness level. I really like the suggestion of having senior leadership get involved and help motivate the troops. I was also considering giving people the option of buying a t-shirt with our agency logo and wearing it to any races that we compete in together. Then this spring I can roll out more team activities and competitions after work like softball, kickball, volleyball, and a triathlon club.

David Kuehn

Our agency had a previous fitness initiative that focused on walking during lunch. In the winter people walked routes in the building. Many people who have trouble exercising regularly because of other obligations may not participate in an initiatve after work, but everyone gets a lunch break. I also like the suggestion about using stairs. While not everyone is fit enough for stairs, becoming more familiar with using stairs can lead to more regular use. I recall a local government in California that had motivational posters in the stairwells, which in many office buildings are unpleasant and hard to find.

Lorne W. Neff

I find having something to train for helps keep me and other motivated to exercise. I challenged everyone in our office to participate in the annual 5k and half marathon our city holds each May, and most have taken the challenge. I encourage everyone to work out together as the race nears. This gets me(us) through the doldrum of the winter blues and makes for a good summer.


I say do sporting events and competitions against other companies in the area… You’re improving physical fitness, breaking a common routine by getting them involved in something different, and you’re establishing networking and teamwork among co-workers..

Jane Moncrief

Hey Lorne — I would like to find out more about the ways in which you got people to participate in the training. I’m also interested in how to deal with differing experience levels so neither beginners nor advanced runners feel frustrated. Let me know if you can provide any additional insight… Thanks!

Larry Schooler

Hey, Jane–

You may want to look at the City of Austin’s PE program; employees actually earn time off from work for participating. Send me a message or email me ([email protected]) and I can send you more information.

Cheryl Ward

If your agency is willing to spend a little money – $200-300 will get you a FitDesk — an exercise bike where you can use your computer, check email, read online, etc. I just found this the other day and now I really want one in my office. But even having a space with several of them available for people to use for 30 mins segments….? Actually 10 min spurts might not require a shower… experts say you get as much from 3 spurts of 10 mins as you do from longer exercise bouts….

Also – yesterday Groupon offered a deal for bootcamp with Custom Fitness Concepts — I noticed the company does small groups for a very reasonable price per person per class, and they have corporate programs where they will come to your site — well worth looking into to see what kind of group arrangement could be made where the CFC folks would come to someplace, outside, near your office (e.g., a parking lot?) that your employees could take advantage of before they leave to go home for the day…