Indy companies offer perks to boost employees' health

Monumental Marathon is team fitness opportunity

INDIANAPOLIS - Some local companies are using races like Thursday's Monumental Mile as a perk in their wellness programs, striving to get employees involved in health-boosting activities.

Although Indianapolis resident Paul Pogue's workplace offers such perks, it took the strength of his little boy for Pogue to change his own life around.

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"Lots of guys out there want to be like their father. Well, I want to be like my son," Pogue said. "He is my role model."

Pogue's son, Armand, was diagnosed with cancer when he was 2 years old.

He beat it, but the trek required strength, encouragement and perseverance.

"There's a great deal of physical therapy and other therapy that he has to go through, and we just ask him to do relentless things to rebuild his body," Pogue said. "I was 272 pounds, laying around playing video games, and I realized I can't be asking him to do these things if I can't at least match it."

That was the trigger, and eventually, Paul pulled it, turning to his employer's wellness program.

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With the help of Kelsey Taylor, who runs the wellness program at Angie's List, Pogue dropped about 90 pounds and went from sitting around to running 6 miles every day.

"I felt better, I was sleeping better, I was moving better," Pogue said.

Like Angie's List, many companies are adopting wellness programs as part of their benefits, encouraging workers to get active and healthy.

"They don't have as much obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol," Taylor said.

Angie's List employees are running the Monumental Mile as a team, and so are employees from Apex Benefits, the Indianapolis-based company that helped Angie's List develop its wellness plan.

John Gauss founded Apex 11 years ago, helping businesses across the region develop benefits and wellness plans.

"If you have healthier employees, you're going to have more productive employees," Gauss said.

Now, Apex is getting behind the Monumental Mile to get the word out about staying healthy, and more than half the employees are signed up to be part of the race. Apex is one of the title sponsors of the Monumental Mile.

Gauss said now the challenge is to get other companies involved.

"Our mission is, frankly, to get employers to get their employees healthier," he said. "So what better way to do that than to challenge those employers to get their employees engaged?"

The proceeds from Thursday's run will go to programs that educate local children -- specifically in Indianapolis Public Schools -- about better eating habits and exercise.

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