Wrangell Parks and Recreation is hosting a fitness challenge to jumpstart a new year with new, healthy habits.  The program started three years ago, and the department has made some changes. It shortened the program from 13 to eight weeks.

“It’s going to be a bit faster and keep more people consistent, because it’s a shorter period of time,” says director Kate Thomas. “It is long enough to create a habit. Working out you probably need a full year to really drive it in, but 8 weeks is a good start.”

The program encourages exercise in a number of ways. Participants log every workout they complete, and Parks and Rec tracks the progress on individuals’ charts. Participants earn points that way. This gives folks accountability and recognition outside of their own personal bubbles.

“It’s pride-based incentive,” says Thomas. “We all got stickers on our homework or check pluses or stars when we did well. We like that.”

Plus, participants win prizes. They earn raffle tickets for gift certificates from the local coffee shop or produce store. The person who logs the most workouts wins a yearlong membership to the recreation center. That pass is worth over $300.

The department compiled a variety of exercise routines. When someone comes to the rec center, they can simply pick up an instruction card that explains a workout. And staff are there to explain anything.

Thomas said the preplanned workouts take the guesswork out of the picture, which is its own draw.

“When you come into the gym you can kind of waste a lot of time just ‘what do I do, where do I go, I don’t even know what I’m doing.’And this workout makes it easy for you,” she says.

These workouts are geared towards beginner, intermediate or advanced levels, and they progress throughout the challenge. These look like swimming a certain amount of yards, or getting on the Stairmaster for so many minutes at a certain intensity.

” You didn’t have to think about it except for setting your alarm, getting in your car, and driving to our facility,” says Thomas.

No weight-loss benchmarks are built into the program. The goal is simply to get people moving.

Thomas says the program strives to be inclusive of all forms of exercise. Participants can log their hike or bike ride, not just workouts done at the rec center.

“Not everybody wants to get on a treadmill. Some people hate it. So if you’re trying to force someone to do something they hate, they’re certainly not going to create a habit out of it,” she says.

Participants just need to take a selfie of them working out to earn points. The department is also partnering with Wrangell Fitness and the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, whom also provide fitness and health activities in town.

Adults and kids can contact the Parks and Rec department to sign up for the challenge. It starts January 1st.