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May 28, 2015

“Gimme 5,” departments say

If you want to see history department staff members trying jumping jacks, the library system’s technical services staff doing desk pushups, Human Resources office employees performing a variation of the twist and personnel from the School of Education dean’s office make like the Rockettes in a kick line, turn to the health and fitness program’s YouTube channel.

HF_LogoIn a new effort called Gimme 5, the Be Fit Pitt project has begun filming and posting short videos of Pitt offices in action, trying to demonstrate that it can be easy and even fun to get exercise in the middle of the work day.

Director Renee Rogers, faculty member in the School of Education’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, says the videos are designed to encourage more physical activity among University employees.

“I had realized a lot of our faculty and staff didn’t have a lot of time to get out of their offices to take a fitness class,” she says. “When you watch videos of your colleagues doing exercises and it isn’t being brutal, I think that’s inspiring. Our whole goal is breaking sedentary behavior in the workplace.”

Gimme 5 was begun by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, which also aims to promote fitness. At first, Gimme 5 was designed to be a social media version of the request for a mid-air hand slap, encouraging positive reaction to people’s changes in eating and activity habits. It since has morphed into the gym teacher or Army drill sergeant’s command to “Gimme five” pushups, for instance.

Next, says Rogers, “we spun it a little and try to do it in Pitt style,” requesting individual offices or departments to create one-minute videos of exercise moves that can be done amid desks and computers.

Her team will give exercise recommendations and shoot the video, then finish it with a soundtrack and graphics, posting it on the Pitt health and fitness program channel at

There are 11 videos so far, all showing staff members doing five  repetitions of a chosen exercise. The School of Health and Rehabilitation Science dean’s office does desk dips; education’s administrative and policy studies tries wall pushups, while the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education shows off deep knee bends.

Rogers is about to add a 12th video from the dean’s office in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, whose employees demonstrate Zumba moves; the Bradford campus also just sent a video.

“Everybody’s doing something different,” she says. The idea is to show employees can be “laughing and having fun while they’re active,” rather than “sweating, going to the gym and being sore.”

The next step, she says, is for video viewers to adopt and repeat these exercise efforts: “We always say at the end of our videos: Make sure you do this throughout your workday.”

To make a departmental “Gimme 5” video, contact Rogers at

—Marty Levine