UW celebrates kinetic connections at Fitness Day

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Where could you find a World Cup champion goalkeeper, an Olympic gymnast, two reigning Pac-12 conference champion head coaches on field at the same time?

Where else but at The Whole U’s third annual UW Fitness Day, where coaches from UW Athletics, UW Recreation, and the wider Washington community joined hundreds of Huskies for an all-levels 45-minute, 20-station circuit workout celebrating the positive benefits of being active. Held on Wednesday, May 8 at Husky Stadium, faculty, staff, and students from across the University of Washington convened on the playing surface where they shone as brightly as the springtime sun!

Held each May at the University of Washington since 2017 in recognition of Global Health and Fitness Month, UW Fitness Day offers participants a chance to explore different forms of movement ranging from cardio bursts and core work to tai chi and dancing as well as opportunities to connect with coaches and colleagues in new and unique ways.

All participants workout in groups, encouraging each other along the way and building community within their own work team and with new colleagues.

Mindy Kornberg, vice president of UW Human Resources, welcomed participants to the field, emphasizing how fitness can bring people together, before handing the mic off to Chris Petersen, head coach of UW Football, who further set the tone for the record-setting crowd.

“There is so much blood, sweat, and tears from our guys in here,” Coach Petersen said of Husky Stadium in his address to attendees. “We’re not asking for any blood or tears out here today. But a little bit of sweat? As long as we can get that, we’ll be in good shape.”

Petersen called Fitness Day “another unique day in our stadium” and emphasized that fitness “has got to become our lifestyle” before welcoming Brandyn Harvey to the dais.

Harvey, a former NFL player who became a life-saving marrow donor, shared more about the UW’s ongoing partnership with Be The Match, the nation’s largest marrow and stem cell donor registry, and the shared goal of growing and diversifying the base of donors in order to save lives and bring greater racial equity to treatment of rare blood cancers.

“I was able to live my dream by playing in the NFL, but the opportunity to be a donor and be able to save someone’s life who had leukemia was more fulfilling to me than that,” Harvey said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for that opportunity because it kind of helped save my life.”

Later on Wednesday, Petersen and his team canvased Red Square for potential donors between the ages of 18 and 44 at a block party event in partnership with The Whole U, Be The Match, and the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. Check out the action at the end of this article!

Lauren Updyke, assistant director of The Whole U, then took the platform to lead the assembled multitude in a series of warm up exercises. After the warm up, the workout got underway with groups cycling through 20 exercise stations led by coaches from UW AthleticsUW Recreation, and Whole U fitness discount partners. Coaches at each station had modifications available so that participants could do as much movement as felt comfortable.

Let’s head to the field for a look at the day’s action and what some had to say!

“Two of my co-workers and I attended and we had a great time! Part of it was because we are all fairly new to the organization and it helped us build camaraderie and helps us integrate ourselves into the positive organizational culture. We walked from our building to the stadium and we got to see parts of the campus we hadn’t seen before.”

Artemio Madrigal, BR-B Student Services

“I loved the experience, and the stations were all great about helping me to find a modification that worked for my ankle pain due to a bad break many years ago. I had to talk myself into going, but I’m so glad I did it. I have told all my co-workers that they are all going with me next year.”

—Betsy Payn, Continuing Education Coordinator/Senior Workforce Training Specialist

“Thought this was one of the best events I ever attended. I’m excited to start incorporating fitness back into my life – it’s been too long and this was a fun way of introducing me back to it.”

—Tal Lev, DRS Counselor, Disability Resources

“Amazing event this year! The time and effort that goes into putting this on is apparent and appreciated. I was honored (and schooled) to be exposed to so many amazing professional athletes. I wish this could happen more often because it is the single best annual event and it truly renews and brings everyone together.”

—Nina Beal, Research Fellowship Coordinator with Pulmonary and Critical Care

“I LOVED that there were coaches and athletes from UW teams. It was a great opportunity to meet them because not sure we would have the chance in any other environment.”

—Malyse Chabot, Assistant to the Director of Business Projects and Director of Personnel Guidance,
School of Medicine Dean’s Office

“This event was hard, but gave me a clearer understanding how important this type of exercise is, beyond just walking!  I’ve set a goal to get to the gym and weight train at least 4 days a week! Thank you to everyone who put this on and helped motivate us through the 20 stations. Can’t wait until next year!”

—Jamie Palermo, Executive Assistant, OVP, UW-IT

“Wow, what a super cool way to meet people and get to workout with top notch UW coaches who are willing to see health a marker of success at UW. I love it, and I love the Whole U. Thanks for all you do.”

—Kimberly Lambright, Grant Manager, Principal Accounts

“This is my very favorite UW event of the year! It’s so energizing and exciting! The generosity, encouragement and enthusiasm of the coaches is heart-warming. It’s inspiring to return to my office with more energy than when I left.” 

                                                                                                                 —Laura Straight, Pediatrics

“I add one exercise to my daily regiment each year. I added planks and balance for the last year. This allowed me to do two regular exercises with no problem. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but each year I am getting more fit without thinking about it. Slow is better than not [at all] and the group support and the alternative exercises the instructors gave so those less able to do exercise were able to participate were great.”

—Mary Dunlap, Fiscal Specialist 2, FS Employee Services

“Awesome to have UW sports coaches and players present…great motivator! You guys channeled the weather perfectly! Sore still today, I guess that means it was a success.”

—Edenic Dumas, Women and Children Health Services Physician Liaison at UWMC

“It was a lot of fun-I really love this event! But the icing on the cake which totally made my day was when Coach Chris Peterson was giving out high fives and good jobs and listening to his inspirational talk.”

—Colleen King, Program Coordinator, Dental Clinic

“This was a great way to do something outside and non-work related with colleagues. I went to the event last year as well and used that to recruit co-workers to attend this one. Both were great. I liked this year the addition of student athletes and connection with Be The Match. Both really helped connect this with broader health and fitness movements.”

—Christopher Rothschild, Research Analyst, Information School

“This was the best large-scale Whole U event yet!”

—Sheryl Schwartz, Assistant Director for Campus Preventative Health

“This was a really fun event that made me push myself and gave me an opportunity to do something fitness related with my colleagues.”

—Jessica Balsam, Director of Prospect Management in Development Administration

The Fitness Day Workout 

Couldn’t make it out this year? Or maybe you did and loved the workout! Give it a try at home. The Fitness Day Workout was co-created by Lauren Updyke, Whole U assistant director and Jessica Norman, UW Recreation program manager. Both are exercise physiologists and Certified through the American College of Sports Medicine.

How to: Do each move for 45 seconds followed by a break between 30 second and a minute long depending on your fitness level. For a challenge, do the entire circuit twice! You got it!

20-Move Fitness Day Circuit
Front Kick Side Kick
Bridge Hold
Dance Combo
Tai Chi
Jumping Jacks
Warrior Combo
Spinal Balance
Mountain Climbers
Russian Twists
Jabs/Upper Cut Combo
Plank Jacks
Curtsy Lunge or Side Lunge
Dance Combo
Boat Pose
Plie Squats

Note: Be sure to check with your physician before trying a new exercise routine and modify each movement as needed.

Thank you to IanFitness, The Seattle Gym, FitDefense, Orange Theory Fitness, Fremont Health Club, Chinese Wushu & Taichi Academy LLCKevin Ng Yoga + Mindfulness, and Be The Match for partnering with The Whole U for this event!

Get in the Game – Block Party on Red Square!

After Fitness Day, the Whole U, Be The Match, UW Football, and UW Men’s Basketball all packed up and headed to Red Square with a mission: spread the word about UW’s new partnership with Be The Match and talk to students, faculty, and staff about joining the registry. Students flooded the block party; eager to snap a photo with Dubs, meet coach Petersen and team players, and sign up to be a donor.

Although the official Be The Match and UW partnership is the first of its kind, Get in the Game isn’t a new concept. Created by Coach Tally of Villanova, Get in the Game is a nationwide series of events hosted by university football teams. The mission is always the same, spread the word about Be The Match and show students the impact they can make by joining the registry. Today, Get in the Game is supported by Coach Tally’s Foundation, the Andy Tally Bone Marrow Foundation.

From students and faculty playing corn hole together to attendees cooling off with Hubert’s lemonade and throwing on their new tees, the afternoon was exciting, inviting, and definitely one to remember. UW now has had over 200 students, faculty, and staff complete registration for Be The Match and request their swab kits in the mail. This is incredible, thank you to everyone who has become a donor. We’re just getting started! To learn more about the registration process, UW’s partnership, and who can join the registry, click here.

Without further ado, here are some of our favorite moments from the afternoon!

Students snap a photo with Coach Petersen after joining the registry and snagging their official Get in the Game t-shirt!

King 5 news dropped in to film the event for their local segment Take 5. Reporter Jordan Steele interviewed Coach Petersen, Lauren Updyke, assistant director to the Whole U, Brandyn Harvey, former NFL football player and Be The Match staff, and Dr. Alexes Harris, UW Sociology professor and cancer survivor. Check out Dr. Harris’ interview—what a natural!

Students passing on their way to class learn about Be The Match from two UW Football players.

Be The Match, UW Football, and Whole U volunteers were very busy spreading the word and walking new donors through the registration process the entire event. Good thing we had Kind Bars to refuel!

Dubs smiles for a job well done! Woof!

All in all, UW Fitness Day and our Get in the Game Block Party made for a fantastic day full of Husky spirit and community. We are excited to continue this partnership and could not have done it all without our amazing sponsors and partners. Thank you to Be The Match, UW Football, UW Athletics, and the Andy Tally Bone Marrow Foundation for your partnership and Hubert’s Lemonade, Kind Bars, Be The Match, and BECU for your sponsorship.