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Kayakers paddle by the shrimp boat docks on Shem Creek.

Human resources never could have guessed how successful their fitness challenge would be in the newsroom. 

Or maybe they knew all along.

They equipped us with free fitness trackers and told us to compete for who could rack up the most steps. The competition quickly turned intense. 

I found myself at the gym at 11 p.m., edging out two of my co-workers for a daily challenge that ended at midnight. 

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Mary Katherine Wildeman 

But the steps I took weren't only on the treadmill. I found myself doing things I wouldn't do otherwise. I walked from my apartment to stroll laps around Hampton Park, not minding all the bikes and runners passing me by. 

I walked down to the tip of the Battery and back.

I rented kayaks with friends at Charleston Outdoor Adventures on Bowens Island, hoping the paddling would win me points from the FitBit on my wrist. No such luck, but we did see dolphins hunting in the pluff mud and a turtle's head poking up from the water for a moment.

I should have expected climbing the "boulders" at Charleston Climbing Gym on King Street wouldn't earn me many steps, either. Despite my sore forearms and fingers, the laid-back atmosphere has made it a place I've returned to a few times.

The one trek I wouldn't brave was the one over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge — that's what all the fittest people seem to do. But driving the steep incline in the middle of a hot summer day, I can pass them in my car without guilt. I'm not much of a runner, so I was happy to cheer on my friends who did the Cooper River Bridge Run from the comfort of a rooftop bar.

I'd rather the air conditioning of an indoor gym, and I've tried two here that are locally owned. At my former gym, Charleston Krav Maga & MMA, rolling around on the mats is anything but cool. But it's wonderful stress relief. At my current spot, nearby Chucktown Fitness, the gym is filled with friendly locals, and it was much easier to build up the steps I needed. 

It's all about finding the gym that suits your needs. 

Still, some of my coworkers were regularly putting me to shame. 

In the back half of the FitBit challenge, my competitive side got a bit out of control. I realized this when I found myself in bed at 11 p.m., shaking my hand back and forth to gather the last hundred steps I needed for the day.

I decided to set aside my FitBit. I never won the prize money for reaching the goal, but I did have the chance to explore some of Charleston's most beautiful spots, on foot and alongside my community. 

The fitness challenge did its job. 

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