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Buns of Steele

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Header Photo (left to right): Emy Fettig, Robin Dewald, Kris Stroh, Lisa Zimmerman, Dawn Dewitz, Annette Bartholomaus, Renae Kennedy

Every morning at around 5:15 AM, seven phones start vibrating with group texts. The seven phones belong to the women at Choice Financial in Steele, North Dakota. It usually says something like this:

“Rise and shine!”

“I’m up! I’m ready for my workout!”

“Who else is up?!”

Sometimes, they might roll over and hits the snooze button. But the texts continue to roll in. “I’m up too!” and “About to get my walk in!” or “Getting out of bed!”

Sooner or later, they can’t deny it any longer. They get out of bed and start getting dressed in workout clothes and tennis shoes. It’s early, and the sky is still a dark, morning blue. But they are smiling, knowing their friends are also challenging themselves to get up early and start the day with a workout.

The routine started in January 2018, when Loan Assistant Lisa Zimmerman took a collective “New Year’s Resolution” and put it into action. Using her experience in other ‘challenge groups’ that helped her reach fitness goals in the past, she decided to put together a daily email and text message group to help the ladies create and reach their goals.

“We’d all been talking about this goal we had for our personal lives, to get in shape,” Lisa said. “So I thought, why not do it here at work?”

“We’re in it together, and we’re in it together here at work.”

She started by sending an email that outlined their goals and included a few motivational tips to get people excited. The emails continued, each day challenging the women to focus on a different aspect of health; from asking how many bottles of water you drank today, to sharing tips on healthy foods to eat. She sent out the invite to all of the women working at the Steele location, six responded to join the group fitness challenge.

For all of them, it has given a renewed motivation to get out of bed and make sure they’re getting daily exercise.

“We’re in it together, and we’re in it together here at work. They hold me accountable,” said Kris Stroh, Commercial Loan Operations Specialist. “It’s fun to be able to share in the excitement when you have a great week. Or when you can tell that your pants are looser.”

The women in Steele unite, holding their weights in a circle. Lisa Zimmerman sits at her desk.

They have all seen a positive impact on the team morale at work, too. Instead of complaints or gossip, they now ask each other about their goals and progress.

“I’ve noticed that when we talk, there isn’t any gossiping or negativity,” Lisa said. “When they walk by it’s not, ‘Did you hear’, it’s ‘Hey, how many steps do you have?’ It’s been positive.”

“It’s affected a lot of our moods too,” Kris added. “When you fall off the bandwagon you get back up because everybody is there to support you.”

“When you fall off the bandwagon you get back up because everybody is there to support you.”

For Kris and many of the other ladies, any commitment to New Year’s Resolutions would have been defeated by now. But Lisa’s texts and emails keep them going.

“She’s going above and beyond. She’s caring about us,” Kris said. “Each January, a lot of us have those goals. It’s just going longer than normal.”

“Respect each other and yourself” and “Better the places you live (and work)” are a few of the Choice core values that come to mind for Lisa.

“Respect yourself enough to want to fuel your body. And it’s respecting the other people you’re doing this with. You’re here to support them and encourage them,” she said.

Our People First values are at the heart of everything we do. Learn more about our passion for putting People First here.