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Viejas Enterprises receives California ;Fit Business' award

ALPINE, Calif. - Viejas Enterprises has been recognized as a 2007 California ''Fit Business.'' Viejas Enterprises is owned and operated by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians of Alpine, which is located 35 miles east of San Diego.

Viejas Enterprises started in 1976 with only an RV park and has grown into a profitable, diverse business entity consisting of Viejas Casino; Viejas Outlet Center; Viejas Entertainment and Production; Broadcasting Companies of America, which operates three radio stations; two RV parks; Borrego Springs Bank; and Three Fires LLC and Four Fires LLC, two tribal economic development coalitions that have developed hotels in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

The Fit Business Award, which began in 2003, honors California companies that promote healthy eating habits and physical activity in the workplace. The award is coordinated by the California Task Forces on Youth and Workplace Wellness and the California Department of Health Services. More than 50 companies from around the state applied for the award.

Viejas Enterprises received the award for its efforts to implement a healthier work environment by offering health and wellness options for all employees, including aerobic classes, diet classes, counseling, weight loss challenges, reduced gym fees at a local gym and healthy food options. In March 2007, Viejas was the first casino in California to begin cooking without trans fats, offering healthier food choices to employees and casino guests as well.

VP Marketing Executive Assistant Gerri Ligeblad has been taking the weekly aerobic classes since the class began more than a year ago.

''The class is fun and the instructor is wonderful,'' she said. ''It is nice to work at a company that cares about your health and well-being.''

Last year, the Viejas Enterprises Health and Wellness Department organized a company-wide weight loss challenge. Of the 119 participants, 98 lost weight.

Bobette Brown, Viejas public relations coordinator, said that more than 1,000 total combined pounds were lost among the challenge participants.

''During the challenge, 22 people lost 10 percent or more of their body weight,'' she said.

The winner of the 2007 Weight Loss Challenge was associate financial analyst Rommel Peralta, who lost 67 pounds over the six-month period.

''It was fun to compete with a group,'' she said. ''We fed off each other's energy and the friendly competition helped to motivate me.''

''There is a remarkable difference in the workplace,'' Ligeblad said. ''People encourage their teammates, and that creates a better working environment.''

The 2008 Viejas Weight Loss Challenge began in April.

In addition to the health and wellness services offered to more than 2,300 Viejas Enterprise employees, the Viejas Recreation Center was built to provide structured programs to foster the Viejas Community tribal members. The center includes a workout facility, workout classes and programs for the youth and elderly.

For more information, visit www.viejas.com.