New rewards-based initiative Virgin HealthMiles encourages students to be active

The new red and white Virgin machine next to the C-store may look like just an oversized blood pressure machine, but it’s actually part of a campus-wide fitness initiative.

Virgin HealthMiles, a program that encourages people to engage in physical activity through a reward system, was brought to campus through an initiative by Student Government President Danny Carvajal, who learned of the program during a summer internship.

“It’s been a huge effort,” Carvajal said. “Just about everybody from Student Affairs, the Virgin folks and Student Government has been playing a key role.”

The program, which has a start-up fee of about $25 and a monthly fee of $5, encourages members to earn miles that can be redeemed for gift cards, discounts and other benefits.

Members earn miles by going to the HealthZone kiosk located near the C-store, which records blood pressure, weight and body fat, or by uploading information to the Virgin HealthMiles Web site.

All members receive a pedometer to record their daily amount of steps, which can also be uploaded at the kiosk or on the Web site to earn additional miles.

Although the program has been promoted through IBIS News and other campus information outlets since the start of spring semester, some students doubt the program will be popular.

“I think it’s a cool idea, but I’m not sure if many students are going to want to participate in the program,” said Alexa Lee, a junior. “It seems like some students might just do it so that they can earn a prize and then stop afterward.”

Other students are less skeptical of the new initiative.

“The program seems like a great idea because there hasn’t seen something like it here before,” said Stephanie Guedj, a sophomore. “It gives people a chance to get guidance they need.”

The Virgin HealthMiles program was formally launched yesterday at noon during a kick-off at the UC Patio.

Allison Worrell may be contacted at

Nutrition Fair

January marks the month of resolution, but the Wellness Center staff and nutritionists celebrated a different type of resolution Tuesday.

The Healthy Resolutions Nutrition Fair was hosted in the UC ballrooms to inform faculty of the different programs that the University of Miami’s Employee Assistance Program provides. The EAP is a service provided for UM faculty, staff, retirees, spouses and dependents that provides free and confidential consultation with professionals. The EAP staff work out of the Plumer Building, located on Ponce de Leon Boulevard a block south of campus.

Visitors at the fair also received free blood screenings and information about different healthy eating programs such as Weight Watchers.

-Tania Leets