Climbing His Way to Fitness


Jeff Gallo of Latham, NY, likes to take an out-of-the-box approach to fitness. Sure, he could have easily joined a gym, but a few years ago he landed on something that worked well for him – indoor rock climbing, an activity that can help individuals burn a whopping 500 to 900 calories per hour.

“I had started indoor rock climbing at The Edge in Halfmoon a couple of years ago with my cousin and really enjoyed it,” Gallo said.

During open enrollment last fall, Gallo found a way to connect his passion for climbing with his health plan. His employer, Community Resource Federal Credit Union, offers the Embrace Health plan, which comes with a CDPHP-funded bonus account where members can choose their path to wellness by spending on what’s important to them – fitness, medical, or nutrition-related items.

“I immediately asked the CDPHP representative if I could use the bonus account dollars to pay for my admission fees to The Edge. She said ‘Absolutely’!” Gallo shared.

He was thrilled and selected the Embrace Health plan with a fitness path, but then he had an idea: Why continue driving to Halfmoon, when he could build his own indoor rock climbing gym in a 12×24 A-frame shed he already had?

“Not only did I have $200 in my bonus account from this year, but thanks to rollover funds from last year, I had close to $400 total,” Gallo explained. “I emailed CDPHP to ask if I could use the funds to pay for mats and the rock holds necessary to build and safely use the wall. I got a quick response back saying yes, it qualified as specialized fitness equipment.”

Gallo also used CDPHP Life Points® to pay for bolts and additional parts necessary to build the wall. “I cashed in a portion of my 180 Life Points for an Amazon gift card that I earned for the healthy things I was doing anyway, like getting my annual physical and a flu shot.”

The building process was far more involved than Gallo initially anticipated, but he had a lot of fun working on the project. He now rock climbs a few times a week from the comfort of his home and has big plans for the future.

“I’d love to expand my setup. There’s no shortage of ideas or rock climbing holds online to choose from,” Gallo said. “I think it’s awesome that CDPHP offers plans like Embrace Health and programs like Life Points. It feels good to be rewarded for taking control of my health.”

Not on the Embrace Health plan? No problem! You can receive healthy activities personalized for your lifestyle at Take part in challenges and complete healthy behaviors to earn Life Points, which can be redeemed for gift cards from a variety of retailers.

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