Bay Oaks Staff Builds Muscle and Moral


Fitness Challenge 2017

When Fort Myers Beach residents and visitors go to the Bay Oaks Recreation Center and Fort Myers Beach Community Pool to work out and recreate, generally the first person they encounter is a Parks & Recreation employee, whether a pool lifeguard or admission attendant. Thanks to a new volunteer physical fitness program undertaken by the P&R Staff, those key first-impressions will feature an even-healthier glow!

The Bay Oaks Fitness Challenge began on June 20 and continues through Friday, September 8, lasting 80 days. Approximately 20 employees, roughly 80 percent of the P&R Staff, are participating on their own time. “This is something several of us came up with together,” says Sean DePalma, Parks & Recreation director for the Town of Fort Myers Beach. “Danielle Felton and Dominic Earhart and I were talking and someone mentioned it, and we developed it, and it all came together.” Danielle is a program coordinator who specializes in active adults and fitness, while Dominic is a program coordinator who focuses on athletics and operations.

The Bay Oaks team got together the first day and performed a weigh-in, simple health screening, and calculated their digital Body Mass Index, “so we had a starting point we could each use to implement benchmarks,” explained Danielle. “In addition to that, we laid out different core fitness exercises, but we did not give anyone a workout routine, so everyone can concentrate on their own particular goals and objectives. Some people want to lose weight while others are looking to add muscle, so this allows them to work at their own pace. What we are doing, however, is strongly encouraging everyone in the program to work out with each other as often as possible.”

We Are All Winners

When the friendly competition ends on September 8, everyone will weigh in and reperform all the earlier physical fitness tests to learn their results. “We have a good-faith competition on-going between the staff,” Danielle added with a smile! “It is sort-of who increases or decreases the most, while fostering the healthiest version of themselves versus when we began, taking into account the percentage of pounds lost or inches increased. After we tabulate everything, we will name the overall winner!” “That person will receive a small prize,” adds Sean, “but of course we are all winners.”

The first week of August marks roughly the two-thirds point of the competition, with Danielle stating that “so far, we are receiving great feedback from the staff, who are working out together much of the time and really seem to be enjoying that element of the program. One of the surprising things we did not consider in the beginning is that there is a mixture of knowledge when you put people together, so everyone seems to be getting a better full-body workout, with those who know upper body exercises now learning about lower body routines from others and vice versa.” “It produces a very positive synergy,” Sean explained. “The good thing is that we have a very qualified staff, and they have a strong background in physical fitness and in health, so it is great for them to learn from each other.”

A Pilot Project

Sean envisions the Bay Oaks Fitness Challenge as a pilot project for several future goals: “First and foremost, this builds up the moral of our staff while getting everybody to become a little bit healthier. Two, I would like to see if we can expand the program the next time we host it to include all Town employees, to make a positive impact in the long run, because the healthier your workforce and the more you implement preventative healthcare measures, the lower the cost of overall healthcare. Plus, this is a great opportunity to interact with different departments, because the better we know and understand each other, the better we will interact together, and that will better serve the public. Third, I want to see if we can then transfer this concept on to our Bay Oaks fitness center membership.”

He hopes to bring the idea to Town Council in the near future, so the Bay Oaks Staff can begin to look for a possible program sponsor, but Sean envisions a break after September 8. “I doubt if we will do another employee challenge before Spring 2018, as our business will increase pretty quickly and significantly with Season right around the corner, plus it will take time to incorporate all the Town employees into a larger program, should that be the direction. As for Bay Oaks members and seasonal guests, however, I could see the launching of that program for this upcoming January through March, as that is the peak timeframe for people on Estero Island.”

As for benefits already attained from this year’s initial challenge, “I am very goal oriented,” Danielle explains, “so it is really nice to have the statistics in the beginning to compare against those at the end. I already know I feel better, but it is great to be able to see it on paper as well.”

For Sean, “I am definitely impressed with how our staff took to the program, then to see how they all interact with and between each other is great. They seem to communicate much better now and I love and get excited about that! I will be working out, then Dominic shows up, and then three camp lifeguards come in, and suddenly a big part of the summer staff is all in the same room, many returning after working in the hot sun all day, to come back and work out with each other, and you have this smorgasbord of all these people. It has really boosted our morale and camaraderie, all while being really fun. This improved our staff outlook, so hopefully we can use it to better the entire community, while improving our overall health.”


Gary Mooney