Palm Springs, California (PressExposure) July 20, 2009 -- Kathy Peper wasnât about to let someone she went diving with have a fatal or near fatal incident because they were in poor physical condition.
Peper, owner of Get Wet Scuba in Palm Springs, witnessing and hearing about fitness/health-related fatal and near-fatal dive incidents at Catalina Island, decided to do something about it.
âThey were wake-up calls to me,â Peper says. âThen I thought about a close diving friend who wasnât in good shape, and I thought, you know, he could be next.â
Peper noticed that since theyâd first started diving together, her friend had lost the stamina he once had. Heâd gained weight and had trouble swimming on the surface.
âWeâd be swimming along and heâd get out of breath,â she says. âAnd Iâd be thinking, âyouâve got to be kidding â this is an easy dive.ââ
For her friendâs sake â and the sake of all divers â Peper determined that she needed to do something that would encourage him to get in shape.
âHeâs the kind of guy who likes people and loves to do things with a group,â Peper says. âSo I wanted something that would be a group activity. I could have started a workout group, but I thought it could be more [than that] by bringing our dive center into it.â
From there, Get Wet Scuba launched the Get Wet Scuba Fitness Challenge. By far, this isnât your typical fitness challenge that focuses on shedding fat. In setting up the Challenge, Peper recognized that being âfitâ for scuba consists of three main areas: physical fitness, education and safety, and participation in diving.
In the Fitness Challenge â held from 1 October 2008 to 1 April 2009 â participants earned points for their activities, with the winner qualifying for an international dive trip. Participants earned points or met requirements in all categories, and there were minimums. For example, you earn a point for each 30 minutes you exercise, and one to three points per dive depending upon the conditions. Participants also had to be DAN members, oxygen and CPR trained, and have participated in at least two continuing education dive courses during the Challenge interval.
If you think this is too onerous for the typical diver, guess again. Get Wet Scuba has had broad participation. âAbout 40 people signed up when we started,â Peper confirms. âAnd many have been really gung-ho, turning in their score sheets and everything. Our CPR and Oxygen Provider courses did better, and we increased our specialties. The Challenge has motivated quite a few of our customers to get back in shape and to dive more, and itâs helped our business during this tight economy.â
Peper adds that this is especially significant because her area has a large proportion of retirees, with a significant part of their client set ages 50 and older.
According to Peper, one reason for the Challengeâs success has been peer pressure, including her own.
âItâs a bit of a guilt trip,â she admits, âbut a group of us were at Catalina Island [a local dive site] and I pointed out that out of everyone there, only three of us could step up to provide CPR and first aid if something happened, and that wasnât right.â
Peper says almost everyone in the group later enrolled in an Emergency First Response course.
Another reason for the success is that Get Wet Scuba has helped participants network in rising to the challenge. Get Wet Scuba maintains a regionalized list of workout buddies so people can get together to train. Not only does this create accountability, but it helps divers find new buddies to dive with. Get Wet also hooked up with a local health club that offers Get Wet Scuba Fitness Challenge participants a special rate for a six-month membership.
Try it yourself Peper says that the scuba fitness challenge is definitely something that any PADI operator should consider. She says that it has worked well. The only major change sheâd make would be to start promoting it and contacting the media about it earlier. But, she says, challenges like this go beyond helping your bottom line.
âPeople who have stepped up [to something like this] deserve recognition in our community,â she says. âWhat they do might inspire other people to become active, and thatâs important no matter who they are.â
Kathy Peper and the Get Wet Scuba staff are happy to advise PADI Members interested in hosting a fitness challenge. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions. They will be happy to email you the entry form, rules and other documents for the challenge upon request.