SIKESTON -- Shape Up Sikeston! participant Karen Bain didn't let the holidays or a little snow stand in her way of earning points in the community's competitive exercise program.
To compensate for the YMCA of Southeast Missouri in Sikeston being closed for the holidays and not being able to conquer tough traveling conditions, Bain just shoveled snow.
"Shoveling snow for 30 minutes burns about 225 calories," Bain noted. "So I shoveled about four or five driveways to get my 15 points."
Kylie Wibbenmeyer said she had no problem with snow shoveling counting as a form of exercise. And shoveling snow hasn't been the only nontraditional workout requested by participants since the program began Dec. 1, said the wellness coordinator for Missouri Delta Medical Center's ReStart, which developed the program.
"I've had people ask if they can get points for yard work and house cleaning. And one woman asked if chasing around her kids could count as points," Wibbenmeyer recalled. And for most of the inquiries, Wibbenmeyer approved.
"If it's part of their daily activity, and they're spending a whole day doing heavy-duty house cleaning, then it will count for some points," Wibbenmeyer explained.
Also, there have been a few participants, particularly men, who are upset weight lifting does not count for more than five points, Wibbenmeyer noted. But that rule won't change, she said.
For the past month, over 25 teams with 100-plus of Shape Up participants have kept track of exercise activities, each of which are worth a certain amount of points. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place teams when the program ends Feb. 1.
Bain, a member of Kindergarten Kalorie Krunchers, said she and her fellow team members have been consistent with their workouts, even through the holidays. They're currently in fifth place.
"It's a good incentive and it's making me go to the gym," Bain said about the program. "When I think, 'I don't want to go today,' it just makes me want to go because I'm competing against somebody else -- and I'm really competitive."
Bain said she's been getting her maximum 15 points each day typically by using the elliptical trainer for 30-45 minutes and by doing 20 minutes of weight lifting at the YMCA. Her other teammates earn their points by going to Curves for Women or working out at home or at the YMCA.
"I'm not a size 2, but I do feel better when I exercise," said Bain.
Although Bain and her teammates fared well through Christmas, Wibbenmeyer admitted not all the teams were as successful.
"This past week was a little tough for some of the teams because many people were busy with the holidays and the snow," Wibbenmeyer said.
Most participants are getting their points through 20 minutes of aerobics and 20 minutes of weight lifting, Wibbenmeyer said.
Chris Hodgkiss, program director at YMCA of Southeast Missouri in Sikeston, said most of the Shape Up participants who work out at the YMCA are typically doing the cardiovascular-type exercises like running on treadmill and doing stair stepper or elliptical machine. In addition, quite a few people lift weights, he said.
When the program began, the YMCA did see an increase of people working out, especially on the weekends, Hodgkiss noted.
"They gave us Shape Up Sikeston! T-shirts when we started, and I've seen a lot of people wearing the T-shirts," Hodgkiss said.
Hodgkiss also belongs to the four-member Shape Up team, Y's Guys, which is currently in ninth place. So far his team is staying on track, he said.
"The good thing about Shape Up Sikeston! is even if you are somebody who works out on a regular basis, if there are some days, you don't want to do it, you go ahead and do something because it's an extra incentive," Hodgkiss pointed out.
In fact Shape Up Sikeston! participants even have some tips for those resolving to get fit for the new year.
Hodgkiss recommended making weekly or monthly goals instead of six-month or yearly goals.
"That's another good thing about Shape Up Sikeston! -- you have to turn in point totals and focus on each week so you have think about it everyday," Hodgkiss said.
And beginning to work out is hard, Bain reminded.
"It just take 30 minutes out of your day and it gets kind of addicting," Bain said. "If I miss a day, I can tell."
But the benefits -- feeling better and sleeping better -- are worth it, she said, adding there's nothing to lose from working out.
The kindergarten teacher added: "And at the very least, you won't gain any weight."