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The popularity of the “virtual fitness challenge” has boomed during the lockdown measures introduced across the globe. Not only has it given people a boost to their physical health, it’s worked wonders for mental health too. At Vital Consular, we decided to challenge ourselves as a team, but we wanted others to benefit from it as much as we would; so we teamed up with the British Heart Foundation.
What is the Vital Virtual Step Challenge?
Vital Consular is primarily based in both the UK and the UAE, so we decided it would be a great idea to calculate the distance between our Head Office in Batley, West Yorkshire and our UAE office in Dubai, then walk the distance virtually.
As many of our staff who had been furloughed had already taken up walking as a form of fitness building, as well as a way to support their personal wellness during these unpredictable times, this seemed like an obvious choice. Everyone could get involved and it was a great way to team build and bring us together, despite the distance (we can’t deny it also brought the competitive edge out of a few of us!).
We’re walking the equivalent of Batley in West Yorkshire, to Dubai in the UAE.
That’s 4,417 miles (8,834,000 steps).
We need to average around 700,000 steps each week as a team.
Our team of walkers includes staff from our Batley, London and Dubai offices.
Fundraising target: £6,000.
What made us choose The British Heart Foundation?
We wanted to give this challenge even more purpose; it would give everyone more drive to push themselves, and as a company we were aware that many charitable organisations had been impacted greatly during the pandemic. With closures of non-essential shops imposed for several long periods, one of the main fundraising channels for many charities with a high street presence has been cut off. Therefore now, more than ever, charities are looking to the public to do what they can to support their work and ensure they can still provide help to those who need it.
Our Accounting Technician, Ruth James has been particularly keen, saying “I was motivated by a charity so important to my family, so I happily signed myself up to spend the first 3 months of 2021 contributing towards the steps needed for the challenge.” It’s clear that having the ability to support such a great cause has been a real incentive for Ruth to get moving.
When looking to partner with an appropriate charity for this activity, our staff were drawn to the British Heart Foundation as several of the teams’ families had direct experience of how heart disease had impacted their lives. And with the BHF celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year, it felt like a great time to support such a worthy cause.
The British Heart Foundation were excited to get involved with our challenge from the off and supported us in setting our fundraising goals, as well as proving all those taking part with their own BHF t-shirt to wear whilst out walking . A JustGiving fundraising page has been created to enable us to share our story far and wide, and make it easy for people to contribute towards our target.
How are we doing the virtual step challenge?
Vital Consular’s HR Manager, Jo Lawless, has organised the event. A virtual community has been created within the company’s Teams platform where everyone who is taking part can log their daily steps, seeing their individual as well as the team’s progress. Staff have also been sharing photos from their walks, such as the one above from one of our Legalisation Advisers Kelly, as well as providing tips on achieving daily goals and support and encouragement to each other on a daily basis.
Seeing other people’s achievements and photos really does keep me motivated. It has also allowed us to keep in touch while we are not all in the office together, which has been wonderful. This has done wonders for my mental health as I have been out in the fresh air instead of stuck inside. I am now using the step challenge from Batley to Dubai as my exercise to keep me fit during my pregnancy!
Making the effort to take daily exercise in our local areas, so as to stick to lockdown guidelines, has been a whole new experience for some of us. Setting off from our front doors and discovering what is close to home has been an experience which has given us a new appreciation for our surroundings.
Our Office Manager, Louise Wood, has definitely been feeling the benefits of having the step challenge to focus on. She is regularly getting out with her daughter, Ella, into local woodlands and making the most of their time outside by wrapping up warm and finding new areas to explore. “It has definitely made me more active than I was ever before and that can only be a good thing for mind and health. I wasn’t involved initially but when I saw how everyone was having fun with it I dusted off my Fitbit and decided to give it a go!” says Louise.
By building a community in our Teams platform and sharing snaps from our walks, we’ve also been given an insight into our colleague’s local areas, which has turned out to be very diverse indeed; from the countryside of Yorkshire, to the cosmopolitan streets of London and the futuristic metropolis of sunny Dubai.
To log our steps, we’re using personal step counters. Most team member have set their own daily targets they’d like to achieve, based on their fitness levels. The record so far for total daily steps since the challenge started is an impressive 19,734 steps by our Dubai Manager Chris Miller.
This challenge seemed the ideal way to be held accountable for my own daily activity but also to show, by example, that positive changes in our lives don’t need to be overwhelming. This challenge has brought me closer to other members of the company that I might not have had a great deal of interaction with previously and brought a sense of “community” to those involved.
How are we doing so far?
You can keep up with our progress as we build steps here on our blog, and we will be sharing updates with you via our social media accounts. We are totalling our steps on a weekly basis, so you can see the progress bar climb as we work towards our target!
4,295,841 of 8,834,000 steps completed!
We will continue to share photos and updates of our staff members who are taking part as we progress, so make sure you follow us on Facebook.
If you would like to make a donation to our fundraiser, you can visit our JustGiving page through the link below. You can also see how close we are to hitting our fundraising target here too!