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A Workout You Can Live With

Updated: 02/26/2014 9:09 AM
Created: 02/25/2014 4:50 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

Under the aerial lift bridge and on the edge of the harbor, sits one of the Northland's biggest buildings.

"The odds are if something good is happening in Duluth it's here," explained Director of Sales, Sue Ellen Moore.

It's home to some of the biggest events. From concerts to conventions, the DECC is constantly setting up or tearing down for events, such as the Blue Man group, dog shows, and UMD hockey games.

For it to all run smoothly, more than 500 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees are behind the scenes. So, what's it like to work there?

"Let's see, we just had the Justin Moore concert a couple weeks ago and I put almost 30,000 steps in that one day," said Erin Blazevic, who works in Administrative and Guest Services.

That's about 15 miles. But when you're working in Duluth's very own Colosseum, that's not hard to believe. They have a lot of hallways and a lot of space, 250,000 square feet of space to be exact.

"We've got things from ping pong tables, basketball hoops, we also utilize artificial turf in Pioneer Hall, we have ice times occasionally," said Venue Operations and Bayfront Festival Park Director, Jeff Stark.

Getting in shape and staying healthy at the DECC is unlike any other work place. For instance, they have ping pong tournaments. 

"Every Monday. You are looking at the reigning champion," said Stark.

On breaks and over lunch, serious competition goes on in the old men's hockey locker room.

It looks like all fun and games, Stark tells us it's actually part of the DECC Wellness Program.

"Sometimes it's tough to motivate people to get on a treadmill and do a couple miles or lift weights, but it's very easy to talk people into shooting baskets or playing ping pong or getting out on the ice and shooting some pucks around," explained Stark.

They have a more traditional gym, too. Down in the dark hallways of Paulucci Hall, you'll find the employee's own personal exercise facility.

Thanks to a private donation, they bought equipment for the fitness center about a year ago when they began the Wellness Program.

"We wanted to get a healthier group of employees...because healthy people are happy people," said Stark.

Before the program, Blazevic didn't think much of fitness.

"Not really, other than walking/running sometimes running on event days. I wasn't so much into the fitness thing," she said.

Now, you can find her in the gym at least three times a week. The DECC offers fitness classes ranging from yoga to cardio.

"We teach a HIT class, which is a high intensity interval training. Tonight, we will be teaching Total Body Conditioning so anything goes in... from jumping jacks to weight training," explained trainer, Julie Hendrickson with Destination Fitness.

They also have monthly incentive programs.

"It's Olympic time of the year so we have a lot of employees going for the gold," said Moore.

 In February, the employees were given pedometers. 10,000 steps a day gets the employees gold. But rather than a podium, their gold can be seen on a star chart.

Moore said the incentives, the classes, and the gym do more than just get people thinking about their health, it gets them to know their coworkers on a whole different level.

"You might be taking a class where you're normally working with sales and event planners and now the person next to you is a scooper of ice cream at AMSOIL, a bartender, and one of our engineers," said Moore.

But the physical rewards are pretty impressive, too.

"We've got employees that have lost weight...we've got employees that have dropped cholesterol," she said.

Making for big changes, in one big building.

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