I hope your year is off to a running, walking, swimming or cycling start. It’s the end of January, and if you haven’t renewed your commitment to personal fitness, put the excuses behind you. Need some motivation? Perhaps this month’s cover story will do the trick. In this issue, some of Acadiana’s busiest professionals — who manage to balance business and fitness successfully — share their exercise programs. The message? You can too.

It’s always easier when you have a workout buddy, so why not your whole office? A company-wide commitment to a fitness regimen is proven to accrue even more advantages: improved work performance and mental attitudes, team-building and even reductions in health care costs. Acadiana Business can offer some assistance there, too. We’re partnering up with our sister publication The Independent Weekly once again to present The Corporate Challenge at River Ranch, this year on Friday, May 8. If you were not part of the field last year — which debuted with an impressive 1,000 runners and walkers — join us in 2009. It was a blast, and it could be just the thing to get you out from behind your desk and into a new routine right now.

You can be a team of one or 101 (last year, Acadian Ambulance fielded the biggest team with 140 green-clad crew members). Sign up for a modest fee and you’ll receive a complimentary trial membership to the City Club, including weekly training programs leading up to the event. In addition to the 5k run/walk, you can be part of Acadiana’s biggest outdoor office party at Elysian Fields in River Ranch. From trophies for fastest team and individuals by age-group to the best CEO excuse, the closing ceremony is a great part of the fun. Watch for details in a series of full-page ads in The Independent or, better yet, visit the Web site: www.mycorporatechallenge.com. 

Also shaping up this year is our annual events calendar. In addition to the Corporate Cup on May 8, The Independent Weekly Lecture Series, sponsored by IberiaBank, commences on Feb. 18 with the annual State of the Parish Address. City-Parish President Joey Durel says he’ll discuss the upcoming bond election in April, continue dialogue on “challenges that aren’t going away, like the need for a new jail and a new courthouse” and present new goals for the year. The 2009 Smart Growth Lecture is slated for late April, which will also honor winners of the year’s INDesign Awards for excellence in architecture, interior and landscape design. Other lecture series events will be announced soon.

The Entrée to Business luncheon, sponsored each year by MidSouth Bank and Dwight Andrus Insurance, will offer two presentations this year. In addition to Dr. Loren Scott’s annual economic forecast for Louisiana on Oct. 14, we are pleased to announce a spring presentation by Matthew Simmons, the global energy investment guru who coined the term “peak oil.” His book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy has been listed on the Wall Street Journal’s best-seller list and is a must-read for all who seek to understand the world’s energy challenge. He is, quite simply, one of the most respected names in the business. Watch for details on his presentation, slated for April 8 at The Cajundome Convention Center.

The annual Women Who Mean Business luncheon is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 16, at River Oaks. We accept nominations for that honor throughout the year, and e-mail is best: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Put WWMB in the subject line.

As you can tell, we set a pretty blistering pace for ourselves in the new year. Time for me to head to the gym!

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