A new health and wellness initiative — Bronco Fit — is emerging from the Boise State College of Health Sciences.
“Bronco Fit focuses on the whole person,” said Michelle Ihmels, wellness director at Boise State University. “When you hear Bronco Fit, you think, ‘You should go to the rec center!’ or, ‘You should go run a marathon!’ but it isn’t just about physical fitness.”
Our current goal is to educate people that Bronco Fit has to do with their overall wellness and their complete well-being.
Michelle Ihmels, wellness director at Boise State University
Ihmels and her team conducted a pre-test last summer with about 200 Boise State staff members who volunteered to be part of the team’s research. That effort found that 44 percent were pre-diabetic and 4 percent were diabetic, Ihmels said.
That’s fairly representative of the entire population, Ihmels said. “So ... using the data to drive our programming and our services is really important. We’re definitely starting to see what we’re working with.”
By teaming up with several campus organizations, Bronco Fit hopes to create a campus environment where healthier choices are easier to make through better food options, health and wellness events, exercise/wellness classes for staff members and other resources.
One significant change made by Bronco Fit involved removing unhealthy snacks from the vending machines in the Health Science Building. Initially, team members tried taking the vending machines out of the building entirely, but they soon realized that students still wanted access to food options, so the healthier snacks have replaced the usual vending-machine fare.
This step sparked a number of other co-sponsored programs and also inspired the idea of putting a Bronco Fit “check mark” on healthy food options on campus as well as on materials and equipment related to “healthy” campus events and resources.
The first co-sponsored community event for Bronco Fit was last semester’s annual health fair, now called the Bronco Fit Health and Wellness Expo.
Not only was it a way to provide students, staff and community members with more information about the new Bronco Fit program and its goals, but many other Treasure Valley health partners were on hand at the expo to help educate participants on topics from suicide prevention to women’s health.
“The scope (of what) Bronco Fit is trying to capture is unique in itself. We have the rec center that focuses on physical health, but Bronco Fit also promotes academics and outdoor activities,” said Jason Wirtz, a marketing major who attended the expo. “It’s definitely something I want to get involved in.”
In hopes of growing Bronco Fit, the team is recruiting “wellness champions,” faculty members who embody what Bronco Fit stands for. The team is also working on ways to get students involved.
“We’re an enclosed community within a larger community so if we can make things work here at Boise State, we’d like to think we can spread some of those concepts throughout the Treasure Valley,” Ihmels said. “And if you can make it work in the Treasure Valley, can you make it work in communities throughout the country?”
Bronco Fit is still working on launching its website. You can find out more information through the College of Health Sciences by emailing COHS@boisestate.edu or calling 426-4141.
Jade Donnelly is a junior at Boise State University studying journalism and media studies.