Wednesday, November 28, 2012
A recent push-up contest at Alcoa was a hit with the plant’s employees.
The Nov. 13 contest at the Alcoa Mt. Holly plant saw two employees participate in a voluntary push-up contest much to their own amusement and to the laughter of co-workers.
The contest started as a joke between Alcoa Mt. Holly Safety Coordinator A.J. Nelson and President of Alcoa U.S. Primary Products Bob Wilt.
The contest became a fundraiser for the nonprofit Louie’s Kids, an organization that fights childhood obesity. The competition also showcased Alcoa’s employee fitness program, which started about a year ago.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgts. Bret Bockenstedt and Manuel Vigil were on hand from The Citadel to count and make sure the two contestants did “full” push-ups.
Wilt and Nelson dropped to the floor of a conference room while eager co-workers looked on.
The contestants went up until their elbows were straight and down until their chests smashed onto a yellow foot-powered air pump attached to a party noisemaker horn that squeaked with each push-up.
Wilt got up to 100 push-ups in seemingly no time and jumped up to loud applause. Nelson was working at a slow and steady pace and at 77 he started struggling, with each push-up taking longer and causing him to make extremely intense workout faces.
The crowd cheered Nelson on until he could do no more after 92. Everyone cheered for the outstanding stamina of the contestants.
For the Louie’s Kids fundraiser the crowd wagered donations into hard hats – one side cheering for Nelson and the other for Wilt. The money in the collection hats totaled $929
After the contest Wilt said he had a few more in him but stopped at 100.
“Alcoa has big values around safety in the workplace,” Wilt said. “A lot of our injuries are because of lack of fitness.”
The fitness program promotes exercise, proper diet, encourages smokers to quit and teaches employees the numbers that are makers of early disease, Wilt said. The fitness program also encourages employees’ families to get fit, Wilt said.
“Every plant is doing something in each of those categories. It’s getting everyone to live up to their full potential so they can have long, productive lives,” he said.
The competition came about when Nelson jokingly asked Wilt, who is obviously muscular, if he works out much. The men further joked they should have a push-up competition so Nelson could receive college tuition assistance from the company.
Nelson is currently in his first semester at Strayer University pursing a degree in business administration.
Alcoa offers tuition assistance to employees for higher education for certain areas of study, Alcoa Communications and Public Affairs Manager Erin Pabst said, adding that Alcoa encourages employees to pursue an education that will bring them to a leadership position within the company.