Fun and Research

When the staff at Cooper Fitness Center decided to create a health promotion program for members, it was no surprise they came up with a program based on cardiovascular fitness. After all, as part of the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, the center knows a lot about aerobic exercise.

The goal of Octoberthon was to motivate individuals to challenge their abilities in a variety of cardiovascular exercises, ultimately increasing their fitness levels, while the center collected exercise data for research purposes. The program was modeled after a triathlon, using aerobic exercises that were later converted to “miles” of swimming, biking and running. An elite category was created to motivate highly competitive members.

Held in October of 1995, the program highlighted the club’s 25th Anniversary and used nostalgic activities to add an element of fun. In addition to a “Back to the ’70s” week, complete with disco music, hip huggers and a nostalgic display of events from the decade, the club hosted a “mini-triathlon” in which approximately 100 people hoola-hooped, “hippity-hopped” on an oversized rubber ball, and weaved through a maze carrying an egg on a spoon.

Approximately 850 members competed in the actual Octoberthon, 20 percent of whom were entered in the elite category.

All participants utilized the club’s exercise log system and their statistics became part of the Cooper Institute’s research database. Activities included stair climbing, bench aerobics, aquatic aerobics, ski-motion exercising and high/low aerobics.

A black-tie awards ceremony with Texas Governor George W. Bush serving as keynote speaker drew 1,000 guests. The event was paid for by $35,000 in corporate sponsorships.