One month to fitness, one step at a time

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 5, 2017

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Ready to give your fitness tracker a workout, or just looking for a way to get moving after winter?

No matter your motivation, the Healthy St. Clair Shores Alliance is looking for you.

A partnership between the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center, the Beaumont Health and Fitness Center, The Lake House, South Lake Schools, the Woods Church and other volunteers, the alliance is kicking off the Walk St. Clair Shores 28-Day Walking Challenge May 1, but it is looking for volunteers to help now. 

Peggy Murphy Kurza, of Beaumont Health and Fitness, said that the organizations have partnered together to create a “healthy coalition.” 

“What our mission is, is to lead change in St. Clair Shores to improve the health and well-being of our residents,” she said. “One way we want to do that is get people moving.”

Carly Podzikowski, director of the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center, said that she began meeting with community partners when she began working at the center in 2016, and “we were all motivated to have a healthier community in general.”

“For us, it was just getting the community more active. To improve and promote health and wellness for those who live, work, play and study in St. Clair Shores and the surrounding areas,” she said. 

The alliance’s first project is the walking challenge.

“The vast majority of people can walk, and it’s a really easy way to get yourself moving and stay moving,” Podzikowski said. Twenty minutes of activity is recommended per day, she said. “Realistically, we can all motivate ourselves to do that, and if you need a little push, here it is.”

To help facilitate the challenge, the alliance is looking for group walk leaders to register and commit to leading a group walk one day per week for up to four weeks.

Kurza said they are looking for leaders who are friendly, enthusiastic, positive and encouraging; who are at least 21 years old; and who will commit to meeting to walk at the same time and location each week during the four weeks of May. They are hoping to get 15 leaders to commit so they can offer a schedule of group walks every day.

Those interested in being group walk leaders should call (586) 447-8080 or email hfcscs@beaumont.org. There is a group walk leaders meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 24 at the Beaumont Health and Fitness Center, 25631 Little Mack Ave.

“It’s a 28-day commitment. People are going to take a pledge that they will walk on most days in those 28 days,” Kurza said. “Throughout the 28 days, we have volunteer group leaders, and every day (the walkers) can look on their schedule and meet up with a group. ... We have found that a lot of people don’t want to walk alone, and that’s one of the biggest barriers that are preventing people from moving and improving their health.”

The challenge kicks off May 1 at Veterans Memorial Park, 32400 Jefferson Ave. Pre-registration is encouraged by calling (800) 633-7377 and pressing 2 for registration, or in person at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center, 20000 Stephens St., or at the Beaumont Health and Fitness Center, 25631 Little Mack Ave.

Those who haven’t pre-registered can come to Veterans Memorial Park in St. Clair Shores from 3 to 6 p.m. May 1. The official kickoff will be held from 6 to 7 p.m., with music, a community outreach physician leading the community pledge to walk, fitness instructors and the first walk of the month. The city will waive the need for park passes during the kickoff event.

Kurza said that the program is for everyone, not just seniors or those 50 years and older. Walkers don’t have to join a group walk to participate. 

Group leaders will collect participants’ weekly mileage at their walks, or participants who are walking independently can email their weekly miles. There will be three locations in the city where walkers’ mileage will be displayed so the community can see how many miles the group has walked throughout the month. Walkers can end the challenge by marching in the St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade May 28, if they wish.

Walking is a great way to improve your health, Kurza said. 

“You meet friends, and that’s part of it. A lot of people that live alone, they find that this is encouraging. They meet new people and they’re improving the quality of their life,” she said. “We will accommodate all levels. Most people can walk, and it’s (a) very easy way to start preventing disease.”

Podzikowski said that walkers will be provided with a package of information that will include different distances to walk in different locations throughout the city. It will also include conversions of how many steps equal a mile for those who keep track of their walks on fitness devices. So far, she said, South Lake High School, Veterans Memorial Park, and numerous residential locations near the Beaumont Health and Fitness Center and the St. Clair Shores Senior Activity Center have been confirmed as walk sites.

She said they want to give walkers a variety of options to keep them excited about the program.

Kurza said they’re hoping 28 days is enough time to make daily walks a habit with participants.

“When you do a 28-day program, we focus on the 28 days, and our goal is that that is enough time for people to say, ‘Wow, I can keep doing this and I’m going to keep improving.’”

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