I’ve always been a sucker for nostalgia and Americana. And although Route 66’s heyday preceded my formative years by a decade or so, black and white photos of The Mother Road remind me of my parents’ generation — when America fell in love with the automobile and the open road.
Route 66 was the first entirely paved road from Chicago to Santa Monica, completed in the late 1930s. It meant freedom and possibilities for thousands of Americans making their way west through the great depression and the Dust Bowl. It was popularized in books, songs, and TV shows into the 1960s, when development of the Interstate Highway System spelled the beginning of the end for America’s Highway.
I don’t recall the exact moment in 1994 when I came up with the idea to make Route 66 our version of exercising across America, but I liked the rhyme and that it mimicked the song Get Your Kicks on Route 66. The more we researched Main Street of America, the more fun it was to imagine wellness program participants learning about the history and quirky attractions along the way.
I’m a big believer that inspiring someone to live healthier means capturing the imagination more than appealing to their sense of doing what’s good for them. And Route 66 offered the perfect vehicle for helping people feel they were “going somewhere,” to quote one of our early participants.
Our first iteration of the campaign was on paper, filled with caricatures and descriptions of iconic images along the route. The program helped more than 10,000 people increase their physical activity, and it quickly became a bestseller (which wasn’t difficult, because we had only 1 other program at the time).
In 1998, we moved Get Fit on Route 66 online and became the first company to offer an online campaign that involved more than recording data to create a graph. It was actually fun! After reading a few thousand “I love watching my car move along the route” comments, we knew we were on to something.
Now 2 program generations and several hundred thousand participants later, Get Fit on Route 66 continues to be one of our most popular. In addition to the neat facts participants learn about historic sights, the cool nostalgic images they view, and the reinforcement of watching their progress along the way, they get to share the experience with colleagues through buddy and team features.
If you haven’t already, take a peek at the , then sign up for a no-obligation demo today. See the latest version of a program that’s helped pave the way for our reputation: campaigns that actually get people to do something to improve health.