That we have a responsibility to both respect and protect the natural environment is so intuitive to us that it hardly seems necessary to address it explicitly. And yet, it bears repeating because our commitment to environmental stewardship not only directly affects our bottom line as a business, but our mission and principles also indisputably require it. We love the places where we work and play; that’s the easy part. When you love a place (or a person), then certain duties exist to ensure its care and keeping. That’s the hard part, but it’s a simple concept: We work outside. So if we want to continue to work, we need outside to be there. And in order for outside to be there, we have to take care of it.
To be truthful, we never thought fitness or physical activity (or lack thereof) would become a vital component of our business. It’s just always been an undisputed part of our culture, not only because it keeps us in shape to do our job well, but also because we genuinely enjoy it. We knew that if we wanted our participants to be more fit, we needed to be fit ourselves. So we enacted a protocol that 90% of our staff should be committed to maintaining a high level of personal fitness, as defined by participation in some kind of on- going physical activity at least 3 times per week. A few years later, we decided 90% wasn’t good enough, so we upped it to 100%. We decided we needed to be 100% accountable for our own health if we were going to truly influence the health of our participants, so we went all in.
Being fit begets a myriad of benefits to health—not just ours (which includes our physical as well as emotional), but also potentially for the environment. When we are physically active outside engaging in human-powered activities we are simultaneously benefiting ourselves and the environment by being active and also decreasing our carbon footprints.
As a company who very much cares about and is invested in the care and keeping of the health of the environment and ourselves, we think it makes sense to provide opportunities to promote outdoor fitness. One such opportunity is Camp 4, [more info here]. While we are pleased with the success of this program thus far, it is by no means a panacea. We realize it can’t and won’t work for everyone, so we also provide resources via personal trainers and wellness coordinators who can help guide you if you’re new or curious about what it means to adopt outdoor fitness as a workout regimen.
Awareness of and attention to environmental sustainability has long been imperative to us. Hence, our commitments to reducing our environmental impact are earnest, notably bookmarked with our LEED® Gold certified headquarters However, we are also pursuing a number of other initiatives and projects, including a Sustainability Tour of the Maryville College campus that showcases the college’s environmentally friendly features as well as participation in a food hub study conducted in partnership with the University of Tennessee College of Agriculture to increase the college’s use of local food.
We are also employing students as Environmental Interns and MC Woods Ambassadors to help us better collect, organize and distribute relevant information about topics such as campus recycling and energy use as well as educate students and the public about the importance of ecological stewardship.
Additionally, we are spearheading a Green Room certification process for residence halls that will allow students to have their rooms designated as environmentally friendly according to a set of agreed-upon standards that includes practices such as recycling and unplugging unused appliances.
We’re excited to be embarking on some new projects in conjunction with the University of Tennessee, including their College of Social Work, Department of Tourism & Hospitality, Agriculture and its Green Economy initiative. Together we’ll explore the connections between fitness, environmental awareness, and how they interact to affect our overall wellbeing. Stay tuned for updates and cool happenings.
THEORIES, PROGRESS, AND PROGRAMS:
We want to better understand the connections between wellness, the outdoors, and happiness. Find out more about the Fit.Green.Happy initiative here.