Connexus Energy Wellness Program Helps Team Rank First in Alliance-Sponsored Health Challenge

The Biggest Winners team poses with the Connexus Energy logo. From back left: Janelle Albrecht, Janis Anderson, Tammy Ferguson, Mike Rajala, Jennifer Sweeney, Kathy Zingler, Leone' Sweeney, Liz Daker and Brian Lambertz.

Employees of Ramsey-area Connexus Energy earn first place in Exercise Minutes category of BizicallyFIT™ 2012 Health Challenge

With support from their company’s top leadership, a team of coworkers from Ramsey-based Connexus Energy – the “Biggest Winners” — took the top spot in exercise minutes, in the just-concluded BizicallyFIT™ 2012 Health Challenge, sponsored by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota. The team beat our more than 1,600 teams and more than 10,000 participants throughout the state.

Eighty-seven of the energy cooperative’s 210 employees joined the statewide health challenge, many of them for the second year in a row following last year’s Biggest Loser Minnesota Challenge. Together, the Connexus Energy teams exercised 293,679 minutes and walked 46,205,318 steps over the course of the 12-week Challenge, an average of 40 minutes and 7,535 steps per person per day.

“The BizicallyFIT™ Challenge motivated Connexus Energy 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 accomplishment for our team members 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.”

“The Biggest Winners” team averaged 88 minutes of exercise per person per day over the course of the 12-week Challenge. Team member Brian Lambertz attended the fitness classes offered at Connexus on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and regularly hit the gym with a coworker over the lunch hour. He also helped “The Biggest Winners” team earn the top ranking in exercise minutes by beginning to train for the Multiple Sclerosis 150-mile bike ride and his first half marathon.

Brian lost 12 pounds during the Challenge and for anyone struggling with their weight, he advises, “It’s more important to train yourself over the long term than to attempt a crash diet. Remember that you are what you eat, and if you eat good things, you will feel good as well.” He adds, “A competition like the BizicallyFIT™ Challenge forces you to stick to a long-term plan and practice your healthy choices over and over until everything becomes a habit. Don’t get down if you have a bad day or even two in a row!”

Connexus employees are supported in their healthier lifestyles by many of the company’s leaders, including CEO Mike Rajala, who was also a member of the “Biggest Winners” team. Connexus encouraged Challenge participants with a variety of intra-company competitions and recognition. They offered weekly step and exercise minute contests with traveling medallions that winners could wear based on their rankings during the previous week. To celebrate the end of the competition, they offered a healthy salad bar lunch for all Challenge participants with raffle prizes such as an iPod, fitness accessories, Jean Day stickers, Subway gift cards and “Wellness Bucks” for healthy snacks from their Wellness Resource Center. A trophy and a $150 reward went to the employees who earned the top spots in pedometer steps, minutes exercised and weight loss, and “The Biggest Winners” team received medallions, a Subway lunch and chair massages for being the highest overall ranking team.

Continuing on its wellness journey, Connexus has established a wellness committee dedicated to employee health. In addition to on-site fitness classes after work, the company recently rolled out a new “Health Improvement Plan” (HIP). HIP is a biometrics-based wellness program with the results tied to rewards and cost savings in the company health plan. To establish baseline biometrics for HIP, Connexus conducted a “Know your Numbers” campaign in September 2011 to measure BMI, blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and tobacco use. Employees who achieve established biometric goals by September 2012 can earn dollars to offset 2013 health insurance premiums.

About the BizicallyFIT™ 2012 Health Challenge

The BizicallyFIT™ 2012 Health Challenge is a free statewide competition designed to encourage Minnesota’s employers to help employees adopt healthy lifestyles. The competition began February 13 and participants tracked their final activities on May 6, 2012. Ten thousand Minnesotans from every corner of the state teamed up with coworkers, friends and family to lose more than 20,000 pounds, walk 1.6 billion steps and exercise 13.2 million minutes over the 12-week Challenge. The Challenge is sponsored by the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, a group of Minnesota employers joined together to create fun, engaging and informative events and competitions to help Minnesotans get and stay healthy. Alliance members that made this challenge possible include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, Cargill, Medica, the Midwest Dairy Association and Target. Learn more at For more information, contact Brianna Chambers at









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