Going for gold – How to ramp up your Vitality points

The editor of Moneybags, Angelique Ruzicka has pledged to chronicle what it takes to reach Discovery Vitality’s ‘gold status’ off a very low base of 300 points.

 

Status: Blue

Start date of challenge: 2 July 2014

Starting points: 310

End points after exercises: 7310

Points left needed to reach gold: 82690

Points needed to get gold: 90000

It’s supposed to take a few easy steps to reach ‘gold status’, or so some text says next to an image of a gleaming woman who’s rock climbing her way toward the word ‘gold’ on Discovery’s website. Dig a little deeper and you find you have to attain a daunting 90,000 (why 90,000?) to reach gold status. I’ve got 310 from swiping my Vitality card a couple of times at Pick n Pay. Not a great start. Oh, and you can reach ‘diamond status’ after three years of attaining gold, but it’s year one for me and I’m pacing myself.

I often advise people not to join a reward scheme unless they are absolutely committed to getting the maximum benefits out of it to save money. Having joined Discovery’s Vitality I’ve made that commitment and I am hoping this scheme will make me lead a healthier lifestyle as a result.

Some join reward schemes because they think they will save money. But if you underutilise them then joining them is just a waste of time. What’s good about Vitality is that it does penalise you if underutilise some benefits. For example, to maintain a gym membership with Vitality, you have to use your gym benefit 36 times (or three times a month) in a rolling 12-month period from the benefit activation date.

Joining Vitality is not free and you have to take out a Discovery product in order to qualify for the programme, for e.g. be on their medical scheme or take out their life insurance. Joining Vitality costs R169 a month for a single membership and R199 if you want to add a partner.

There are two reasons why I joined Vitality: I am a Discovery medical scheme member and I wanted to join a gym. Virgin Active in Constantia in Cape Town seemed like the most logical option for me because it is close to where I live and, more importantly, it has crèche facilities (I have a one year old boy) and since having a baby I’ve found it hard to get active and get someone to look after him at the same time.

You need 90,000 points to reach gold status and in an ad hoc column on Moneybags I am going to do something on a regular basis that will earn me points. I will chronicle my good and bad experiences. So here goes:

 

This week’s challenge 1: Finding out my Vitality Age

Points earned: 2000

What you need: You need a tape measure and to ideally know your glucose levels and blood pressure.

Overall views of the challenge: It took longer than I thought to fill in the questionnaire. Discovery appears to promote the belief that consuming low fat and low sugar foods are a good thing. But what about all those people that are on the infamous Banting diet or New Atkins diet? Are they not viewed as ‘healthy’ in Discovery’s views?

The results: Vitality told me my age is 38, when it’s actually 35 and it also said that my waist circumference was one centimetre bigger than what it should be. Overall, I am happy with the result but I clearly need to make some minor adjustments before I do this test again.

This week’s challenge 2: Signing a no-smoking declaration

Points earned: 5000

Overall views of the challenge: This was fast, easy and simple. All I had to do was click on a form to declare that I would not smoke and presto 5000 points were awarded. It was easy enough as I am a non-smoker anyway. But I do wonder how they would check if you are lying. Some smokers I know have given up only to revert back to form a couple of days later. How many of those smokers would then fess up to Vitality that they are at it again?

What liked this week:

I found there’s an easy to understand ‘How to earn points’ section, which gives me some hope to attaining the daunting 90,000 points.

There are a variety of ways to earn points. You don’t even have to do exercises to gain points – just swipe your card at Pick n Pay and earn points on healthy choices or complete some online questionnaires – declaring you are a non-smoker earns you a cool 5000 points.

What I didn’t like this week:

When it came to the Vitality age test it asked me about my glucose and cholesterol levels which, granted, I should’ve known. But there were other health checks that I got questioned about and I had no clue what they were, why they needed to know about them and where I would get tested for those.

In a world that lives on instant gratification I realised it takes 24 hours to reflect points earned on your online assessments.

Finding out that Vitality deducts five points whenever you purchase a ‘less desirable’ item when you go grocery shopping. For a list of what qualifies as healthy foods and for some scrumptious recipes, click here.

Five ways to earn points:

1. Finding out your Vitality Age: 2,000 points

2. Flu vaccination: 1,000 points – I’ve just had a flu injection at work so I am wondering whether I can still claim for this in some way.

3. Declaring yourself a non-smoker: 5,000 points

4. Earn 5 000 Vitality points when your baby gets all the childhood vaccinations needed before the age of 18 months: My one year old is up to date with all his vaccinations but I haven’t declared this with Vitality and am wondering if it’s too late.

5. Earn 2,500 points for doing a CPR course: I did one through a nanny agency last year. I will find out if I can claim for this and report back!

 

For more on Discovery Vitality, click here.