KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – The 173rd Fighter Wing hosted a men's health initiative coinciding with "Movember," a moniker combining men's health awareness month with the mustaches many grow to call attention to health issues like prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and suicide.
"We need to engage more men in health initiatives in our community," said Kendra Santiago with Blue Zones, a project to improve the health of Oregonians. "We looked at our work sites that we partner with, and a number of them were heavily dominated by a male work force, and we also noticed that we have some teams that have physical fitness as a requirement for the job."
She and her coworkers came up with the "Strut Your Stuff" challenge, involving Klamath Falls Police, Fire District #1, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the 173rd Fighter Wing and an all-female Blue Zones team.
Each organization fielded a team, and every week in November they will undertake one of the organizations' fitness tests as a group. It provides a little competition, a lot of camaraderie and, of course, exercise.
The second week's challenge brought the teams to Kingsley Field Nov. 6 for pushups, situps and a 1.5-mile run.
Members of each team wore different color "Movember" shirts created by the Blue Zones organization. The competitors, scattered around the gym, partnered with members of other teams and shouted encouragement to their opponents. It didn't appear to be a competition at all; however, each team competed for bragging rights.
They transitioned to the run and the winner, ODF Forester Jonathan Fitch, crossed the finish line in less than 9 minutes, more than 30-seconds ahead of the next finisher.
When the points were tabulated, the Kingsley Field was a touch chagrined they didn't earn the top spot in their own fitness challenge. More specifically, they came in last.
Some good-natured ribbing ensued. Now the Kingsley team is looking for ways to be the top finisher in the next challenge, which is the City of Klamath Falls Police Dept. fitness test.
For Santiago, it has turned out better than she'd imagined, "I love that we can do things like this that really help build our community."