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Working Through Lunch

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HARVEY, La. - Some people say they don't have time to go to the gym or they can't afford a gym membership. But the employees at one company have made some incredible transformations by working through lunch.

Shannon Jackson is in her element. A year ago, Jackson would've never pictured herself in a gym, pumping iron. But today, this is where she feels most comfortable. Like a lot of people, Jackson spends seven hours a day sitting behind a desk. "I had back problems, leg problems," Jackson said.

She also had a whole lot of extra weight. Jackson explains, "The women that helped shape me, none of them lived past 60. They were all overweight and they all eventually passed from heart attacks or heart related conditions."

So she decided to do something about it by hitting the gym. For Jackson, the trip isn't far - in fact, it's only about five feet.

Between rope pulls and tire hauls, the people working out all have desk jobs at Punctual Abstract in Harvey. Their gym, is a converted garage attached to the building.

Steve Daigle is the owner of the company. A self-professed fitness buff, Daigle always dreamed of building a small gym for his employees to use during lunch breaks and after work. He explains, "A lot of people like sitting at their desk, like staying in their cocoon, and I think we want to bring the best out of an individual."

To Daigle, that means fit, healthy individuals that feel good about themselves and their environment.

Daigle brought in trainers to man the gym around the clock. Some work with Punctual's employees one on one, others lead group classes on everything from spinning to TRX, which requires people to use their own body strength to work out.

Daigle's dream of a small gym wasn't cheap. He's sunk about $50,000 into it so far and it continues to grow in size. While he says his insurance costs may go down because of the wellness program, that isn't his main motivation. "I've been blessed. I work hard but I think I'm here to be a steward to my community and to try to touch on others who haven't been as fortunate whether it be with wealth or with wellness," said Daigle.

The gyms only been open for a year and a half but Daigle estimates in that time, his employees have lost a combined total weight of over 400 pounds.

Rachel Galiano is one of the success stories. Weighing in at 320 pounds after giving birth to her three kids, Galiano felt hopeless. She explains, "Before when I was at my heaviest I didn't have the energy, didn't have the ability to really work out, keep up with the kids, anything."

She turned to gastric sleeve surgery to lose weight. Sure enough, she started dropping the pounds, but eventually hit a plateau. Around that time, she started working at Punctual Abstract and soon realized there was a great resource at her fingertips.

With the convenience of a gym located at her office, Galiano was able to carve out time from her lunch break and sometimes go in early to make classes and personal training appointments. Eventually she was able to get down to 154 pounds. But she's not alone.

Matt Toups also dropped a considerable amount of weight. At his home, he told us he credits the trainers at the gym for teaching him how to be healthy. His before and after pictures are staggering. Toups says working out, changed his life. "I don't have high blood pressure anymore, I don't have sleep apnea, I don't have to wear a CPAP machine anymore, I'm off my high blood pressure medicine, tri-glycerides, cholesterol, everything's perfectly normal," said Toups.

Shannon Jackson dropped 50 pounds since she started getting active and the list goes on. Daigle sponsors yearly weight loss competitions for the group with prizes for people who lose the most body fat. Galiano and others say the health conscious environment at the office is infectious. She explains, "Everybody is everybody's cheerleader. We eat healthy and maybe if there's something that somebody finds at the store they're like you have to go get this, it's better, so everybody helps everybody out, it's really good."

Rachel Galiano and others say they're incredibly grateful to their boss, not just for the gym, but for the constant motivation to live a better life. For his part, Daigle says it's incredibly rewarding watching the people that have helped his business grow, accomplish things they never thought possible.

Punctual Abstract employs about 140 people. Steve Daigle says about 50 percent of his staff use the gym on a regular basis.

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