Pittsfield promotes healthy habits among employees
Increased productivity and reduction in health costs among the goals
(May 11, 2017) – Pittsfield is making great strides in boosting the wellness of its municipal employees. The city’s leadership is working proactively to move health and wellness programs forward and encourage fitness and healthy habits among city staffers. Pittsfield is working closely with the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA), the city’s municipal insurance provider, to plan a variety of wellness related employee trainings and initiatives.
James Pensivy, a bus driver for the local Council on Aging, has seen great results since he began participating a year ago in the city’s free employee boot camp classes, which have been sponsored by MIIA and held at Healthy Fitness – a studio in downtown Pittsfield. “I’ve lost some weight, and once I got going with it I just didn’t want to stop so I signed up for extra sessions on Saturdays,” he said. “I am down about 20 pounds so far, and I am encouraged to just try to be more active, try to watch what I’m eating, and cut back on portions.” Whereas he used to rely on fast food as an easy solution while driving for work, Pensivy now packs healthy lunches and snacks for being on the go, along with three large jugs of water to ensure he stays hydrated and doesn’t turn to sodas.
Michael Taylor, Director of Personnel in Pittsfield, has spearheaded Pittsfield’s wellness initiatives over the past year, which have included the boot camp classes as well as Mediterranean cooking demonstrations and a Fitbit walking challenge for over 100 employees. The city also recently hosted a Wellness Fair for employees that included information on local fitness clubs, healthy cooking and eating tips, and local chiropractors and health care professionals. During the fair, employees enjoyed sampling fire cider, frozen yogurt, and healthy Mediterranean dishes.
“I know James was hesitant to sign up for the boot camp classes at first,” said Taylor. “But he decided to try it and it’s been incredible to see how far he has come. A lot of people are in the same boat where they might be hesitant to get started with a healthy lifestyle change, and James’ strength and new found confidence are inspiring to others.”
Taylor said the programs are designed to offer a benefit that is accessible for all employees, and to encourage them to try something new that they might not normally try. “It benefits the city in terms of productivity and morale, but really this is meant to be a great, healthy benefit to employees themselves.”
Next, the city is the process of establishing a Wellness Committee that will meet regularly to review recommendations from MIIA and plan for further wellness classes and initiatives. Also, Taylor is working to convert an unused area of the basement at City Hall into a wellness center and gym, where the city can offer free yoga and meditation classes for employees – as well as provide a place to work out using donated exercise equipment.
Bill Bradley, Wellness Consultant for MIIA, has been working closely with Pittsfield’s leadership to create and implement strategies for encouraging health and wellness among employees. “Mike is so passionate about wellness that it makes it really easy to create classes and partner together,” he said. “He is a big reason why these programs are so well attended, and he is always reminding employees and encouraging participation.”
Pensivy said he plans to continue the healthy habits he has picked up so far in his journey, including fitness classes and healthy eating habits. “I’m trying to keep this fitness journey going because I’m a scuba diver and I’d like to lose more weight and get even healthier so that I can pursue that along with underwater photography,” he said. “I’m trying to stay healthy for that plus for my job. The structure of the fitness programs really motivate me and keeps me going, and I just haven’t felt this good in a really long time.”
Pittsfield works with MIIA to offer a range of convenient, unique and engaging wellness programs that help create a positive wellness culture – and so that over the long-term, creating new habits and making such changes can improve employees’ health and quality of life.
The Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association (MIIA) is the non-profit insurance arm of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA). MIIA Health Benefits Trust provides health coverage for the employees and retirees of more than 120 cities, towns and governmental entities in Massachusetts that are members of the MMA. For more information, visit www.emiia.org and www.mma.org.