WAYNESBORO, VA — City workers are running on the treadmill and swimming laps at the Waynesboro YMCA as part of a $15,000 fitness program funded by the city of Waynesboro, VA. During a recent lottery drawing, the Y randomly selected 25 out of the city's 600 employees. The participants received a free, one-year membership to the Y and complimentary health screenings.

“We wanted to have a broad cross section of employees rather than 25 firefighters and policemen who were fit and ready to go,” says Jeff Hersh, director of corporate wellness for the Y. “We are looking for real people who can get real results.”

The Y will monitor workers' blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, heart rate, blood pressure, body fat percentage and weight every 90 days and report the information back to the city. The participants must visit the Y five times each month to check in. Along with working out at the Y, participants can also exercise at home and track their daily activities to determine the number of calories burned per day.

“We don't want people to think it's a program where they have to go to the Y to lift weights,” he says. “We want to help them to change their lifestyles from sedentary to active, and they can count walking or playing with their kids as daily activities.”

The pilot program strives to improve not only participants' health and fitness level but also their attitude and productivity.

The program, which will cost the city about $10,000 in Y membership dues and $5,000 in management costs, will allow the YMCA to increase its exposure in the community and attract new members, Hersh says. While only a small percentage of the city workers will receive free, one-year memberships to the Y, other city employees can participate by paying for membership dues, getting health screenings and attending the Y's free informational sessions on nutrition and fitness.