There was a band, a little cornhole, a T-shirt design contest and a sold-out pizza stand.
But the event Thursday at Riverside Military Academy, dubbed Hall County’s largest office party, was all about the fitness.
Some 1,200 people participated in the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Get Fit Stay Fit 5K run-walk Thursday evening with likely much more than that staying for the after-party.
After the runners started the race at 6 p.m., area band Russell Hall played covers and kids played cornhole, a bean-bag game.
Runners raced around the campus and walkers trickled in to the main area.
People waited in line for slices of Papa John’s pizza and sandwiches from Firehouse Subs. Jennifer Loggins, owner of Bodyplex Fitness in Gainesville, handed out passes for a three-day free trial at her gym on Thompson Bridge Road.
The chamber event helped increase awareness for Loggins’ business, she said. But, as a member of the fitness community, Loggins spoke about Thursday’s event as if it was part of her duty to improve the community’s wellness.
“It’s so important to the community that we constantly instill the value of fitness and health and what we can contribute is so much,” Loggins said.
Melanie Churchwell of Operation Boot Camp, a 30-day program that operates out of two separate Hall County locations, said Thursday’s event helped connect the community to fitness.
Churchwell said she ran a 5K race earlier in the week with one of her students who had never completed such a feat, and said she’d be willing to run more with others just to show them they were capable.
“I think it’s important for people to learn that they’re stronger than they think they are, and they can do more than they think they can do,” she said. “We need to get them off the couch and get them healthy.”
And getting people healthy is important to business, which is why the chamber sponsored such an event as Thursday’s corporate challenge, said Robyn Lynch, vice president of membership development.
The third annual Get Fit Stay Fit corporate challenge is part of the chamber’s Health Smart initiative, Lynch said.
The initiative gives employers an opportunity to start wellness programs and encourage their employees to walk at lunch, working their way up to a 5K race.
“For employers having healthy employees ... you have less sick days, your insurance cost is less and your employers are happier,” Lynch said.
A portion of the proceeds from Thursday’s challenge will be given to Gainesville and Hall County’s recreation departments and the YMCA.