Some 30 people, including a half-dozen employees at Lucky's Market on North High Street, showed up last week to begin the three-month Leap into Wellness Challenge being offered at all of the growing grocery chain's locations.
The Columbus store was the first one to debut the program, which was developed by in-house nutritionist Tracee Box.
"The vibe, everybody seemed super-excited and ready for this," said Mark Tucker, assistant manager of the Natural Living section of the Columbus location as well as "ambassador-coach" for the wellness challenge.
"It's really like Nutrition 101, where you have one topic that flows into the next," Box said in a telephone interview from the Lucky's headquarters in Colorado.
The program eventually will be rolled out at both Colorado locations, in Boulder and Longmont, as well as the newest store in Columbia, Mo., which was scheduled to open last week.
"The goal and the outcome is to provide everyone who participates the tools to continue their journey on health and wellness, even beyond the 90 days," Box said. "We start out with some very basic information, things we know but don't put into action. Most everyone knows that they want to eat healthy, but just really aren't sure in the busy lives many of us have how to accomplish that."
"This is the first year, the first time we're doing this," Tucker said. "We touch base each week on different topics, anywhere from supplementation to stress, stress eating ... water intake, how important that is -- portion control as well. A lot of people don't know what portions are. We do a lot of congratulating, a lot of rewarding. It is an overall change for people."
A number of Clintonville businesses, among them Sobo Style, Cottage Street, Boomerang Room, Clintonville Outfitters, Wholly Craft, Elm and Iron, and Jekyll and Hyde, have donated gift cards to serve as incentives for Leap into Wellness Challenge participants, said Elisabeth Warner, marketing and events coordinator for Lucky's Market.
Points are earned by challenge participants based on their adherence to the program, Box said. Each location will have a weight-loss, inch-loss and points winner, and grand prizes, still to be determined, will go to the top three in those categories at all four Lucky's stores.
The challenge goes beyond just offering information about eating right, Tucker said.
"Diet and exercise work hand in hand, especially when you're trying to lose pounds, body fat," he said. "You can eat healthy, but really, we want to focus on being active in the community as well."
"Although we meet as a group, what we do actually is meet each person based on where they are," Box said. "What I mean by that is, some get a point if they drink a gallon of water a day. For some people, that's not much of a stretch, but for others, only two liters is an accomplishment.
"We are always trying to meet the person where they're at and just stretch them a little bit beyond," she said. "Rather than be discouraged, they become inspired. We celebrate every one of those milestones, because for each person, that is a huge accomplishment."
Although nothing is set in stone, both Tucker and Box said they anticipate the program being repeated at some point.
"We had to unfortunately turn people away, so I have no doubt that we can continue on this, especially once we can show the success, hear that testimony," Box said. "We may do it again mid-year."
"I'd like to see us do maybe two of these a year," Tucker said.