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MIT student blogger Melis A. '08

MIT is going to pump you up! by Melis A. '08

A bit about a cool new fitness program called [email protected]

Have any of you read “The Idea Factory: Learning to Think at MIT”? If not, then I’d recommend it. The author, Pepper White, got his Masters (in MechE!) from MIT in 1984 and the book is about his educational experiences at the ‘Tute. I read it before starting college, but I have had many moments that reminded me of things that White had talked about, including long bike rides to clear your mind and “ah-ha” moments while chatting with the shop guys in Pappalardo (where we build out 2.007 robots.) I have also come across several of the professors that White mentioned, which always has a way of making me feel important…

In any case, MIT is known for being the breeding ground of the next big idea in science and engineering, but I thought that today I’d focus on a great idea by MIT Medical. The program is called “[email protected]” and it is a 12-week, team-oriented fitness challenge that is open to the entire MIT community. Teams are comprised of five to eight people, and teams compete based on the average number of minutes exercised each week. The first week’s goal was 150 minutes/week and it gradually increases to 300 minutes/week. We’re now into the 5th week and the goal is 210 minutes. Teams that meet their weekly goals are entered into weekly drawings for prizes.

Summer is just one (or two) blizzards away, so my friends and I decided that we should stop complaining about our laziness and actually do something about it. Our first challenge was to come up with a team name, we decided on “I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing.” Week 1’s competition was for the Best Team name, and we figured that we’d at least be in the top five. Sadly, our sense of humor didn’t align with the judges’. Out of the five finalists, the participants voted on the winner, which ended up being “Buns’n Burners.” I guess you can’t really go wrong with a nerdy name.

The getfit website ( has a function where you can enter your minutes and see other teams’ results. Team Blatieshoe is in the lead; the group of figure skaters have clocked an average of 6,360 minutes per week (with 8 team members.) One team member reported exercising 1,270 minutes last week, that’s three hours a day, seven days a week! I’m also proud of the 5th place team, called “AXO Seniors,” who have an average of 3,980 minutes per week (with 8 team members.) They’re my sorority sisters, so I know that their minutes are legit =). (Thanks to Kim Shive for the extra info on Team Blatieshoe!)

There are two things about this program that I think make it a good idea. The first is that you can see the minutes entered by your team members. So, you can hold team members accountable by sending emails like “Get to the gym!” and when that doesn’t work, “Get to the gym… seriously!” The second is that it’s team-based and encourages group exercise. My team has had a few (semi-embarrassing) basketball games (with very low scores), but at least we had fun and broke a sweat.

In any case, hopefully you all will be inspired by MIT Medical’s idea and start a fitness team of your own. It’ll give you a much deserved break from integrals.

10 responses to “MIT is going to pump you up!”

  1. Masud says:

    Exercise! Wheeeeee! [email protected] is an utterly awesome programme! I so cannot wait to take part in it.Provided, of course, that I do get into MIT…

  2. Libin Daniel says:

    The Idea Factory: Learning to Think at MIT..I will read that only if I get in…else the sniff..sniff.. is bound to increase exponentially. I love the cartoons you posted.

  3. Robert says:

    I’m thinking the top teams have more than a few ROTC kids…

    Cool post, thanks for shedding some light on something that I’ve actually never ever read about before on the blogs: physical fitness at MIT.

  4. Melis says:

    Steph: Our team hasn’t gotten any prizes yet, but we’re hopeful.

    Collin: They haven’t announced the grand prize, but last year it was: “The winners received bags embroidered with their team name and “[email protected] 2007 champions” and filled with goodies, including gift certificates to Marathon Sports, water bottles, towels, and pedometers.”

    There are also individual awards: “This year, the getfit organizers instituted a new prize, the “Onward and Upward Prize,” to reward participants who might not always have met the exercise goal, but who entered minutes every week and showed steady and consistent improvement during the course of the challenge. Two winners were chosen at random from all those who met this criteria. Both winners received an iPod shuffle.”

  5. Davorama says:

    the winning name cracks me up.
    …your was funny too! smile

    Hopefully I’ll do this – i havent been to Taekwondo in a while :x and therefore exercising very little now.

  6. Steph says:

    Sounds really cool.

    Has your team won any prizes yet?

  7. Collin says:

    whats the grand prize?

  8. Hawkins says:

    Aaaaah, I loved that book! I quoted it in my application. lol

  9. Kim Schive says:

    Hey, thanks for featuring [email protected] in this blog! As one of the organizers, I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the program. We have a lot of great contests coming up. Week Six features a “Spring Training” team competition and a haiku contest for individuals. And it’s not too early to start thinking about what “creative exercise” your team might come up with for that contest in Week Ten.

    One note about the Blatieshoe team: They’re figure skaters and second-year getfit participants, and I’m sure their minutes are legit. They were the “gold medalists” in the Week Three “Winter Games” team competition, and you can read more about them in the report on that contest, which can be found on the news page of the getfit website (

    But even though some teams, like Blatieshoe and your sorority sisters’ team, rack up incredible numbers of minutes, we’ve designed the program to be more about challenging yourselves than about competing with others. The grand prize winner is chosen at random from among all teams whose average exercise minutes met or exceeded the weekly goal for at 1east 10 of the 12 weeks. So as long as you manage to meet the weekly goals, your team will stay in the running for the grand prize.

    Keep up the good work, and get to the gym… seriously!