December 21, 2011 – Meryl Ainsman never thought of herself as a competitive person, but after 90 days of tracking her steps with a pedometer, making healthy food choices, and bonding with her co-workers, she realized she was a little more competitive than she had thought. Last summer, she and her husband David, who work together at the law firm of Ainsman Levine & Drexler, approached their friends Louis and Sandy Kushner, who work in the same building at the law firm of Rothman Gordon, about a friendly wellness competition between the firms. They had been discussing a program with Nicole Trombley, the trainer at the Grant Club fitness center in the Grant Building, who had directed internal wellness programs for other companies in the building but never for two firms to meet head on. Now, the 90 days were up and Ms. Trombley was about to announce the winning firm.
The Wellness Challenge, created and coordinated by Ms. Trombley, was developed to encourage lifestyle changes rather than weight loss and is based on Five Pillars of Wellness ©: activity level, good nutrition, stress management, mindfulness, and support system. Each firm had 22 people sign up and elected team captains: Rene Kuhn and Traci Varrati for Ainsman Levine & Drexler and Charlene Canty and John Stevens for Rothman Gordon. Participants tracked their steps with pedometers, aimed for six daily helpings of fruits and vegetable and plenty of water, attending educational classes, exercised, and meditated. They also set personal goals in one-on-one sessions with Ms. Trombley. Points were tracked and submitted each Monday and weekly challenges offered a chance to earn bonus points. Ainsman Levine & Drexler won the bonus step challenge with over 1 million steps in three days. Teri Inks was the top performer, walking 121,018 steps over the three days with an amazing one day total of 45,819 steps! Rothman Gordon prevailed in the plank-off with 80 minutes of combined planking, including a 10 minute plank by attorney Alan Blanco.
“This program provided all of us with the opportunity to incorporate truly healthy practices into our daily lives. As we learned how to enrich our days through exercise, improving nutrition, mediation, yoga and teamwork, we became happier, stronger, and more mindful of how positive life can be. Office morale has never been better,” said partner and president, David Ainsman.
Ms. Trombley cites the findings of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, which states, “Employers who invest in worksite wellness programs can see a return of $3-6 for every dollar invested over a 2-5 year period. Documented savings are observed in medical costs, absenteeism, workers’ comp claims, short-term disability and presenteeism (lower on-the-job efficiency due to employee health problems).” But Ainsman Levine & Drexler and Rothman Gordon both found more than just bottom line savings. “We have multiple employees telling us this was the best thing the firm has ever done – and we’ve been in business over 50 years,” said Rothman Gordon managing shareholder Bill Lestitian. Team captain Charlene Canty echoes that sentiment, “This was truly life-changing; I did things I never thought I could accomplish.”
In the end, Rothman Gordon pulled ahead by a slim margin but looking around the room, everyone felt like a winner. Ainsman Levine & Drexler is graciously making a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank in honor of the Rothman Gordon victory. Both firms are planning to continue with internal wellness initiatives and perhaps a few more friendly competitions down the road.