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Supermarkets host fitness competitions

Supermarkets host fitness competitions

Homeland Stores, H-E-B and Ingles Markets are among the retailers using cash prizes to create excitement about their wellness programs.

Rewards ranging from dollars off a purchase to $10,000 in cash give shoppers good reason to live healthier.

Catering to wellness shoppers is a smart move, as their annual ring is about 11% higher than mainstream shoppers, said Don Stuart, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, Wilton, Conn.

Competitions that provide financial rewards can create store loyalty, Stuart said.

Contestants in Homeland's Get Healthy Challenge, before (top) and after.
Contestants in Homeland's Get Healthy Challenge, before (top) and after.

“Rather than just being a place for people to buy products, the retailer becomes a trusted partner in managing a healthy lifestyle,” he said.

Homeland Stores, Oklahoma City, aimed to do just that with its “Get Healthy Challenge,” a 16-week competition in which 10 participants were judged on improvements in weight/BMI, cholesterol, glucose and triglycerides.The contestant whose health improved the most won $5,000.

The Homeland group started its wellness journey last Oct. during a two-day “wellness camp” consisting of fitness and nutrition training; and personalized instruction on cooking, meal planning, fitness and other behaviors. Each received a body scan to determine the condition of the heart and lungs.

After wellness camp, contestants met with Homeland dietitians and received $200 to purchase healthy food to restock their pantry.

Contestants were required to blog as a way to interact with Homeland’s customers.  There was a private Facebook page so that the contestants could interact with and encourage each other.


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“We have learned that the built-in support system of social media brings this wellness competitions to a whole new level,” said Alyson Dykstra, Homeland’s dietitian.

While Homeland’s $5,000 reward is impressive, retailers are offering even larger financial incentives to help shoppers get in shape.

Take H-E-B, which awards $10,000 in its annual Slim Down Showdown consumer fitness competition.

This year’s contest began on January 5 and runs through April 12. The 30 contestants attended a “Fit Camp” January 5-10 in San Antonio. During Fit Camp, fitness professionals provided education to the contestants on proper nutrition, physical activity and weight management. Participants will receive periodic check-ins from nutrition and fitness professionals for the remaining weeks of the program.

Consumers aren’t the only ones benefitting from these programs. Employees, too, are being offered incentives to get in shape.

A Disney vacation and cash rewards are part of “Lighten up for Life,” a free web-based, weight-loss program that Ingles Markets, Asheville, N.C., offers employees. The program is provided through a partnership with Mission Health, an Asheville-based hospital network that created the program for its own employees four years ago. The program includes recipes, eating advice, exercise videos and tips and a listing of local wellness events.

Read more: Study reveals trends of wellness 'superusers'

More than 450 of the chain’s employees joined the 16-week program when it ran last April through Aug.

Participants signed up in teams of four and tracked their weight loss at Once they joined, employees set weight loss goals, decided on an eating plan, and determined which activities to engage in.

Retailers should also take notice of Walgreens’ “Steps with Balance Rewards” program, said Alysia Margiloff, account director at Catapult, Westport, Conn., a marketing services company.

“Steps” members earn points by walking, running and other logged and tracked weight management goals. Members receive 20 points per mile, as well as 20 points per day for tracking their weight.

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