Mike Bryant and John Court (left to right)

John Court, Senior Manufacturing Engineering Manager and CNC Programmer, along with Mike Bryant, Production Cell Machine Operator, have selflessly sacrificed their lunch breaks for over five and a half years to help others. What could keep them from their breaks for so long?

It all started when John thought of a way to create an inclusive environment for employees to connect, who would otherwise never meet. What was his plan? To build lasting relationships through fitness, regardless of age, disability, or length of GE tenure. He challenged them to spend thirty minutes of their lunch break to focus on their health and encouraged group collaboration. As a former U.S. Marine, John used his skills to create a boot camp program and found a spot to host his classes. Mike heard about the idea and was all in! “Without Mike’s support, I don’t think I would’ve been able to keep this going,” said Court. Together, they transformed a small basement space into a room of endless fitness possibilities!

It started in a cramped space, with only eight participants and a few pieces of equipment. Yet, it didn’t make a difference to John, Mike or their attendees. Determined to make it work, they slowly increased their fitness equipment and even spent their nights and weekends building custom jump boxes to allow for exercise modifications. Later, they formed a partnership with Nancy Kolb and Lynne Hagg from the GE Evendale Fitness Center for support. From the beginning, their goal was to create an environment where everyone could thrive. “You’re never too old to get fit. I’m turning 63 in a couple of months and I feel great,” said Bryant.

Debra Taylor, Evendale Multi Services, is 60 years old and was one of the original eight members. She kept coming back, and to date has lost 65 pounds and is no longer taking medication for high blood pressure or cholesterol. Debra retired as of July 12, but has already joined a kickboxing class to maintain her healthy lifestyle!

 

Today, the class sizes range from 100-200 participants a week between two shifts and consists of both hourly and salary employees. For most, it’s the connection to others and the ability to have flexibility. “Just because someone had an injury or surgery doesn’t mean they should give up,” said Court. “In fact, we’ll create a safe custom workout plan so they can continue to work on their fitness while they heal.”

Inspired by his own experience, Chris Francis and Matt Ferguson, Production Assembly Technicians, decided to help with the second shift classes. “Boot camp for me is so encouraging. We build each other up and hold each other accountable. We push each other further than we would push ourselves. I’ve met and bonded with people because of boot camp.”

Matt Ferguson and Chris Francis (left to right)

Over the years, John and Mike have cheered on marathon runners, extreme race competitors and even an employee who tried out for America Ninja Warrior. The equipment offerings have grown as well and the classes now include a CrossFit style workout, plyometrics and yoga. Despite protests, John and Mike use their Christmas gifts from class attendees to buy even more equipment and custom t-shirts for the participants. One employee even used her reward and recognition points to donate a new stereo system when John’s system failed.

 

Brenda Ewing, Development Assembly Mechanic, competes in triathlons. “Boot camp class is a great way to add 30 minutes of strength training to my busy schedule. John and Mike created workouts so they can be modified for any skill level and the classes are known for their great comradery.”

John has been a GE Aviation employee for 34 years and Mike for 40. It’s evident their dedication to the company and their colleagues has created more than lasting friendships. Together, they’ve improved self-esteem, provided encouragement to overcome personal struggles and recognized it’s never too late to be healthy. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” said Court. “We don’t care if you are in the worst shape or the best shape. We have something that will challenge everyone.”

Want to learn more? Contact John Court!