Bruce's Blog

Sept. 26, 2012

Making fitness a Western priority

Western Washington University faculty and staff can purchase discounted memberships to the Wade King Student Recreation Center under a new program announced by President Bruce Shepard at his annual Opening Convocation address to faculty and staff on Sept. 20.

The special memberships limit use to the less-busy times of 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the week and all day Saturday and Sunday. The cost of $60 is down from the normal, all-hours membership price of $105 per quarter.

And on a pilot basis, the university will pick up half of that cost, meaning the total cost to faculty and staff will be $30 per quarter.

Why the great deal?

Simply put, Western is committed to health among faculty, staff and students, Shepard said, noting that the new membership is simply an addition to Western’s increasingly robust employee fitness program, with classes from yoga to conditioning.

Shepard added that studies show that the small investment Western is making in employee health will more than pay back the state taxpayers through lower health insurance costs, better performance and reduced sick days.

The president himself has been hard at work increasing his own health in the past few months.

Recently, Western Today sat down with Shepard for a chat about his workout regimen and healthy eating habits:

Q. Bruce, folks around campus have reported to us that there’s “less of you” these days.

A. Yes, about 20 percent less. Smaller me, only in a healthier package. And, with even more energy and just as much punch when it comes to fighting for Western.

Q. What prompted the change?

A. Winter is always a time when pounds get added: breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, afternoon receptions, dinner meetings. Entertaining. Dinning out. And lots of travel. Last April, back from a business trip, the scale reached territory I had never before witnessed. I decided then and there to make some changes.

Q. So, what did you do?

A. In years past, regular exercise was all it took. That and a rule a long-time friend and long-time president taught me: At all those many evening functions, use the dessert course to go visiting guests at the other tables.

That was no longer enough. I had to try something new.

Q. So, how did you lose the weight?

A. Well, there’s an app for that.

Seriously, though, there are now great smartphone apps that made it easy to do something I had never had to do before: set goals, track calories and exercise and monitor progress.

Cyndie joined me, working together helped a lot, and she has made the same great progress.

The rules are pretty mundane:

  • Eat regularly
  • Eat well but moderately
  • Don’t eat junk
  • Workout seriously.
  • Every day, no exceptions, for months. Actually, for life.

Q. Must have been really difficult to cut back on eating.

A. Not really. Cyndie and I are eating better than ever. Partly by changing what we are now eating: lots of fruits and vegetables, things I never really sought out but now look forward to. (As I tease Cyndie, anything is good when you are hungry!)

And, partly by being inventive. We have come up with great low-calorie/low-carb versions of favorites like pizza, spaghetti, Pad Thai, Pad See Ew and even summer-celebrating margaritas.

Daily exercise was the bigger challenge. Some days, beginning early morning in another part of the state before getting back to the WWU office in the evening would mean hurrying home, putting on exercise clothes, finally treadmilling and then showering and putting the suit and tie back on in time to welcome 100 folks at the front door.

Q. So, with you thinner, there’s nothing to the rumors out there that you are seriously ill – or even having some kind of reaction to the governor’s critical letter about faculty salaries?

A. I appreciate the concern, but both rumors are 180 degrees off.

On the health front, indicators that were progressing in the wrong direction (blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.) were a reason I knew I had to make a change. Today, those numbers are not just normal but lower than I have seen in decades. And, I have reached my weight goal: dead center of normal range for my height, gender and frame. Again, something I have not seen in decades.

And, as to the governor’s letter, when you know we have done what is right for Western, there’s not a moment’s sleep to be lost. And certainly no reason to pass up the Northwest’s great bounty.

In addition to the new initiative at the recreation center, Western's Faculty & Staff Wellness Program is offering its fall quarter exercise classes, including fitness, yoga and Zumba. Classes start today!

To take advantage of the reduced-fee membership at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, faculty and staff should visit the front desk to fill out the sign-up form. The fee for fall quarter is $30 plus tax. Faculty and staff still may sign up for the regular, all-hours membership, which is $105 per quarter plus tax.



Page Updated 01.24.2014