CPA firm partner and town mayor makes fitness a priority

When the Mayor is also a partner in the largest local CPA firm in town, fitness in the workplace takes on a whole new meaning. Barbara Bass is the Mayor of Tyler, Texas and one of 6 partners at Gollob Morgan Peddy. She has a wide audience listening when she talks about fitness.

In Tyler, the city government connected with the local newspaper and local television station and got behind a healthy initiative called the Fit City Challenge. "The way they got it kicked off is that they brought in some summer interns from University of North Texas," explained Bass, "And their job was to do interviews and do the research to get this started. Once they did that, all of the little pieces we had done (toward fitness), they helped tie it together."

Working in tandem with the print and television media, Bass was able to create a huge awareness of ways that people can take care of themselves - including diet to exercise, places to go for free, gyms and classes to pay for, different types of exercises. Bass, the Mayor, made a pledge to work her way around the community sharing fitness. Each month she meets up with people in a different part of the city at a walking trail, park, hiking trail, or nature trail to show people all the different places they could work out.

Bass, the CPA, and her partners are already in pretty good shape: one is a runner, several work with a trainer, one rides a bike on a regular basis, and Bass works out at home each morning to manage her stress and her health. She notes that working out gives her the energy and ability to do all the things that she wants to do. Individually and as a group they recognize the importance of keeping in shape.

On a firm level, Bass says that her firm provides a supportive community to their employees who want to work out. Their new office is just across the street from the community's biggest walking park, and it is not unusual to see employees going for a walk at lunchtime. Some of the employees have joined the same gym so that workout partners are readily available. There is also a group of employees that get together to play basketball in the morning before work. Gollob Morgan Peddy has hosted exercise-focused firm-wide events such as a bowl-a-thon party with variations to make the game more active.

The city of Tyler is encouraging local businesses to make the commitment for good health. Different businesses are making commitments to lose weight. Gollob Morgan Peddy is considering trying to lose 500 pounds firm-wide in 6 months, but the exact amount of weight will be determined by which and how many employees sign up to participate. After the initial weigh-in, realistic overall weight loss goals can be set for the individuals and the team.

"The ones that want to participate will have to weigh in at the beginning," said Bass. "Everyone will be cheering each other on. We haven't got all the details on the prizes worked out but we are considering different options. We are working out the details. Some will be just small to keep people encouraged. There may be different types of prizes for different types of achievement. We are looking at what other firms that have already started this have done."

The emphasis, for the city and the firm, is to get healthier and in better shape. Bass encourages people to try new exercise programs and workouts to find the one that works best for them. "The emphasis is going to be to get in better shape and get onto a system where you continually work out," said Bass. "Make fitness your priority because you're the only one that can. Get up and get moving."

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