Mike Knights displays one of the pedometers which will be given to people who sign up for the Vernon Steps Out program.

Mike Knights displays one of the pedometers which will be given to people who sign up for the Vernon Steps Out program.

Taking up a new challenge

Cross Canada Challenge participants can exercise their muscles and minds for the first 10 weeks of the program in 2012, starting Jan. 9.

Cross Canada Challenge participants can exercise their muscles and minds for the first 10 weeks of the program in 2012, starting Jan. 9.

Each week, participants will take part in a number of challenges, including logging their daily steps, swimming, skating, walking at Wesbild Centre, using the recreation complex gym, and other choices, like taking part in a Rec Centre program.

It’s all good for fitness but the trick is to guess and do the specific challenge activities, which will be announced only at the end of each week. If people have taken part in the selected activities for that week, they will be entered in a draw (one entry for each activity, so people could have several entries each week) for the grand prizes, $200 Rec Buck certificates, one for a participant over age 55 and one for a participant 55 or younger.

“This is the second year for the Cross Canada Challenge and people who took part last year told us they wanted some more goals in a more manageable time frame since the whole program takes a year,” said Mike Knights, recreation programer for the City of Vernon.

“To make it more interesting and not so daunting, we decided to have the shorter challenges within the longer one. Maybe people will try some new activities and find some things they enjoy.”

The Cross Canada Challenge has people set out across the country taking in all the capitals along the way. It takes about 15,000 steps per day to complete the virtual trip in a year.

It’s made more fun with people being able to convert a wide range of activities, from sports, to snow shoveling to yoga, to dancing  to housework to “steps” that count towards the total. For example,  an hour of housework counts for 5,400 steps. Other activities that can be converted to count as steps are on the challenge website. Steps and activity-conversion steps will all count toward the year’s total.

More than 300 people completed the walk around Hawaii last year and Knights is hoping most of them will be back, along with a lot of newcomers.

The website includes a place to log in steps and a map so people can see where they are, as well as pictures and information about the provinces people are passing through. With many people originally from other parts of Canada, some people might find themselves visiting their home towns.

“People like the visual representation and having a goal. We think they’ll like the chance to win one of the 10 weekly prizes for the person who completes the most challenges each week and the big prizes. People like a little bit of competition to get motivated, “ said Knights. “These memberships would make great Christmas gifts.”

Membership, available at the recreation complex, Wesbild Centre or at www.vernonstepsout.ca, is $25 for new members (includes a pedometer) and $15 for a yearly renewal, or for a youth membership. Membership entitles people to a $5 discount on other Recreation Services programs. See www.vernonstepsout.ca.