This fall, the American Heart Association recognized Pizza Hut with the gold standard for being a “Fit-Friendly” work site. What does it mean to be fit friendly according to the American Heart Association? So glad you asked. Fit friendly companies are those who have committed to championing the health and wellness of their employees by offering things like flu shots, an on-site fitness center, nutrition programs, etc. Pizza Hut was nominated after an energetic group of employees put their walking shoes on to participate in the American Heart Association Heartwalk to raise funds in support of heart health.
Shiny awards are nice, but there are real stories behind the hardware that are even nicer. Meet Charlotte Thorpe, Communications Analyst, who took advantage of one of the programs here at Pizza Hut and had great success. We sat down with Charlotte and fitness guru/wellness analyst/blog contributor Meagan Bueltel to hear more about fitness options at Pizza Hut and Charlotte’s experience in the Energize for Life (EFL) program.
As Charlotte recounts, her decision to commit to EFL was a hesitant one. Over the years, she had slowly started to gain some weight and realized she needed to lose it but wasn’t sure how to go about it. That led to her exploring her fitness options at Pizza Hut. “I didn’t think I had time to do EFL. EFL has been around for a while—probably four or five years—and it seemed like such a huge commitment. I thought with my workload, I’d never be able to pull it off.” She also was cautious about setting her expectations. “I had to get to the point where I was ready to commit to it. Originally my goal was to just get fitter and healthier and be more in shape. I wasn’t sure if I could lose the weight.”
As Meagan explains, EFL has three levels, with 12 weeks to complete each level: beginner, intermediate, and “freedom.” Once you reach freedom, there are no assessments; you’ve graduated the program and hopefully met your goals. Beginner and intermediate level participants do a pre and post assessment to see how far they’ve come. Three times a week, the group meets with a certified personal trainer to go through the workout. “It’s a program that gradually builds. It’s about creating a habit of being active two days a week, and then we add a day. After a while it becomes a lifestyle change instead of something on your to do list,” says Meagan.
Charlotte got herself motivated to go to the training sessions, but after six weeks, she wasn’t seeing a big difference. EFL had an answer for that. “They suggested that I meet with the program’s nutritionist. I wasn’t interested in counting calories or tracking all my food, so I asked her up front to help me make sure I could eat normally,” says Charlotte. “She gave me a new meal plan and I learned how to eat better and eat to lose weight—you don’t have to cut out all carbs, for example, but you are supposed to eat carbs with protein. Just having a plan helped me make better eating choices.” And, for Charlotte, that’s when things really clicked. She lost more than 20 lbs. upon completing the intermediate level.
Meagan notes that its results like Charlotte’s that are really more important than the recognition from American Heart Association (though we’re not mad about that, either). Additionally, for those of us who are exercise challenged, Charlotte’s results set a high bar. But, Meagan says, there are lots of ways to get fit at Pizza Hut.
One option? Virgin Pulse. We covered this option in Meagan’s earlier tips and tricks post, but it’s super easy to get involved. Another option coming to restaurants is the Retrofit program, with similar workshops to EFL. It’s a personalized approach built for people who need to lose 20 pounds or more, and includes coaching around exercise, diet, and more. Retrofit offers a very holistic approach that includes stress management. Lastly, if you’re really into the idea of EFL, you can also follow the first six weeks of EFL at home! Just click on this link for a PDF of workouts. Enjoy!