Every Saturday is a new chance to get the fitness ball rolling.
Now through October the Fitness Variety Pack Program offers free fitness programs for Gulf County residents and visitors.
The initiative was created by the Gulf County Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP) to individuals and families that want to enjoy the outdoors and stay healthy in the process.
“We all struggle to stay committed to healthy habits,” said Sarah Hinds, Gulf County Community Health Improvement Partner and Health Education Program Manager for the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County. “Our New Year’s resolutions are now hitting the sixth-month benchmark and we haven’t lost the weight or kept up our diets. That’s why the CHIP partners decided on the Saturday Fitness Variety Pack.”
The next program, to be held Saturday, June 14 will include a Zumba class at the Washington Recreation Center led by Iris Gathers that will kick off at 9 a.m. ET.
At 9:30 a.m. ET a walking program in Port St. Joe led by Hinds will take participants on a stroll down the Port City Trail, starting behind the elementary school at the corner of Cypress and 22nd St.
Later at 9 a.m. CT, another walking program will be held in Wewahitchka at Lake Alice Park, led by Denise Manuel.
The same programs will be offered on June 21 and 28 at the times and locations listed. A Zumba class will not be offered on June 21. Free pedometers are available to all participants to help them count both their steps and their calories.
“I got started with the walking program due to a family challenge to become healthier and fit,” said Scott Warner, a Port St. Joe resident. “I’ve sat back for so long watching my father have health issues only to come to the realization that I am only following in his footsteps if I don’t change my lifestyle now while I am young.”
Warner said he takes his children along on the walks and said they like taking in the local scenery and wildlife and enjoy using the pedometer to track their progress.
“I want to show my children that exercise is important, and what better way than taking a walk with them,” said Warner.
In addition to the Saturday Fitness Variety Pack, other CHIP initiatives include implementing worksite wellness opportunities, teaching tobacco prevention curriculum in schools and hosting healthy cooking demonstrations at local grocery stores.
“Building a healthier Gulf County began as a community-wide initiative with the goal of identifying and addressing health needs,” said Marsha Lindeman, Administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Gulf and Franklin Counties. “We understand that community health is a community challenge. Improving health outcomes will be more sustainable by working together.”
The CHIP partners meet on the last Wednesday of every month at noon at Sunset Coastal Grill in Port St. Joe.
Those interested in joining the Saturday Fitness Variety Pack or CHIP meetings can contact the Florida Department of Health in Gulf County at 227-1276 ext. 205.
“It’s more than just a fitness opportunity,” said Hinds. “Participants and families show up to start a healthy habit and leave with a strong support system.
“We all need each other for motivation to maintain healthy behaviors.”