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The office that sweats together stays together

Anyone else might be insulted if someone helped sign them up for a gym membership as a present, but the employees at Dr. Steve Gwaltney Dentistry took it and ran with it — literally.

Together the office lost more than 35 inches in just six weeks.

“It has been such a positive experience,” said Christie Harrell, office coordinator at Gwaltney Dentistry. “As a whole, it makes you healthier, we’ve had better performance at work and it has been a huge stress releaser. I would really encourage it.”

As a present to his staff for Administration Appreciation Day, Gwaltney helped his employees get memberships to the Suffolk Family YMCA, where they participated in “Y-Change,” a six-week fitness and nutrition program.

“One day a week during our lunch hour we would go to the ‘Y’ and exercise together, and one day a week we’d go over nutritional information — like how to read labels, make good choices and substitute foods,” Harrell said. “The other side of the coin was doing at least two other workouts a week on your own.”

The program has had tangible individual and group results for the employees, Harrell said.

“It showed me that in my 40s I can still get back into the swing of things,” Harrell said. “For the past few years, I didn’t think exercise and step classes were for me anymore. Now, I do those things and on Sunday I’m chopping up vegetables and planning what I’ll eat next week. It has helped me make choices to have a healthier lifestyle.”

The work in the gym has inspired others to run in the recent 5K of “Suffolk on the Move” and others have signed up for upcoming area runs, Harrell said.

“It’s also brought so much cohesiveness to our office,” Harrell said. “We’ve built so much momentum. It’s brought unity to the office from having a common goal that’s been fun and healthy.”