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The new office gym: the stairwell

Stretching in the lobby before a 10-story walk at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are (from left) Cathy Delaware, Errol Wallace, and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, hospital president.

David L. Ryan photos/Globe Staff

Stretching in the lobby before a 10-story walk at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are (from left) Cathy Delaware, Errol Wallace, and Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, hospital president.

Forget the idea of a traditional office gym. One Boston-based group is taking to the stairs to get workers in the city’s tallest buildings moving.

Several times a week, members of ClimbCorps ascend and descend the stairs of the buildings where they work downtown as part of a Brigham and Women’s Hospital initiative. Currently in its first year, the program seeks to spread awareness of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in the country, and the disease that is also the most preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Annette Rubin is one of the originators behind ClimbCorps and its national partner, ­ClimbAmerica. She and others began work on the initiative in 2011, and the program launched in August 2012, with 20 health-minded recent college graduates deployed to 10 of Boston’s buildings to coordinate the stair climbs.

Their aim? To utilize an undervalued resource in multistory buildings: the stairs.

“This is where people spend so much of their time and spend much of their time at their desks,” Rubin said. “The stairs are a built-in fitness center. They’re an underutilized resource in these buildings.”

Though the program is free, Corps members must work in the buildings and have registered for their building’s respective ClimbClub, which is coordinated by the graduates. They take to the buildings’s stairwells every day for 90-minute stair-climbing sessions.

Last week alone, Corps members climbed 182,188 steps in one of the Prudential Tower’s stairwells.

David L Ryan/Globe Staff

Judy Silvia, a worker at Brigham and Women’s, started participating in ClimbClub early last month, climbing two to three times a week during her lunch break. She said she has already noticed a difference in her fitness level, despite being a frequent gym-goer prior to taking to the steps in her building with ClimbCorps.

“The first time I did it, I only made it up and down one time, but then you get used to it,” said Silvia, a 41-year-old Jamaica Plain resident.

Now, she can tackle the building’s 10 flights of stairs up to four times. “When you get to the top, you’re tired, and by the time you get to the bottom, you’re fine,” Silvia said.

This weekend, hundreds of people are set to take to the stairs for a ClimbCorps fund-raiser, taking place at 100 Summer St. on Saturday and at the Prudential Center tower on Sunday. For more information, visit

Those interested in learning more about ClimbCorps can visit

Lauren Dezenski can be reached at lauren.dezenski@
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