Connexus Energy employees win statewide health, fitness challenge

One step at a time, the Connexus Energy team won first place in BizicallyFIT™ 2012 Health Challenge.

Three Connexus Energy employees earned top ratings in the statewide BizicallyFit Challenge. Laura Jonell for her 28-pound weight loss, Leoné Sweeney for exercising 18,880 minutes and Jennifer Sweeney for logging in 2,207,905 steps on her pedometer during the 12-week challenge.

Three Connexus Energy employees earned top ratings in the statewide BizicallyFit Challenge. Laura Jonell for her 28-pound weight loss, Leoné Sweeney for exercising 18,880 minutes and Jennifer Sweeney for logging in 2,207,905 steps on her pedometer during the 12-week challenge.Photo submitted

The 87-member team beat out more than 1,600 teams and more than 10,000 participants throughout the state to take the top spot for exercise minutes.

The Connexus Energy team exercised 293,679 minutes and walked 46,205,318 steps, an average of 40 minutes and 7,535 steps per person per day during the 12-week challenge, which went from Feb. 13 to May 6.

“It was very nice to win first in state,” said Connexus Chief Executive Officer Mike Rajala.

“BizicallyFIT™… motivated (our) employees to push themselves as individuals and as teams to achieve sustained wellness efforts over 12 weeks,” said Janelle Albrecht, Connexus Energy human resources and Wellness Committee leader.

“It was a huge success and… a great way to encourage, support and motivate employees to improve their biometric numbers in preparation for our fall 2012 know-your-numbers campaign.”

Although receptionist Laura Jonell did not set a goal beyond walking, she lost 28 pounds by the end of the challenge.

“I joined for the fun (activities),” said the Coon Rapids woman, who won first prize for her weight loss.

Jonell walked on her breaks and her lunch and she walked even more on the weekends.

Doing 10,000 steps a day was nothing, she said.

The former 214-pound woman is now starting a running routine and recently ran in the Minneapolis Aquatennial Torchlight 5K.

For Leoné and Jennifer Sweeney is was all about the competition.

The couple worked out together and separately.

“At 62, I don’t want to go into retirement with diabetes,” said Leoné Sweeney, who won first place for exercising 18,880 minutes during the competition.

With Connexus’ new biometrics insurance plan and its premium incentives coming this fall, improving his BMI (body mass index), blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels will also save him money, he said.

At work, the Andover couple would walk together on their breaks and they worked out to DVDs, like “P90x,” and do yoga together at home.

They also did not eat after 7 p.m. and ate even more healthy than they normally did, said Leoné Sweeney, coordinator of facility and security services.

Jennifer Sweeney was the pedometer steps winner with 2,207,905 steps during the competition.

“I like running more than walking, so I had more steps than (Leoné),” she said.

While they are extremely competitive with each, they also encouraged each other to do better, Jennifer Sweeney said.

In addition to motiving each other, Jennifer is now motivating her sister and her neighbors.

She and her sister are training for the 10K Diva Dash benefiting the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance in November and she is helping her neighbor with a 10K training program, she said.

Rajala also joined in. “It was a fun and engaging challenge,” he said.

For the last 30 years, he has always got up before 6 a.m. and gone to the gym, but his goal for the challenge was to get in 45 minutes of exercise, not 30 minutes, Rajala said.

He also did something active on the weekend, like taking the dog on a long walk, said the 65-year-old Princeton resident.

About 40 percent of the company’s employees were involved, Rajala said.

“I was happy to see them excited and enough of the employees to improve their health,” he said.

Tammy Sakry is at tammy.sakry@ecm-inc.com


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