Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the enrollment deadline for Move and Improve as Feb. 27. The correct information is below.
BANGOR, Maine — The 14th season of the Move and Improve fitness program kicked off on Sunday with an energetic afternoon gathering at the Fields4Kids activity center on the Farm Road. The free session offered stretching, a brisk half-hour indoor walk, core strengthening exercises and a lesson in Zumba, the latest aerobic dance craze.
Move and Improve is a free, 12-week activity and wellness program aimed at getting and keeping folks up and at ‘em through the last chilly weeks of the Maine winter. Sponsored by Brewer-based Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, Move and Improve asks participants to commit to a realistic exercise routine — 30 minutes of moderate physical activity four days a week, for example, or 60 minutes of vigorous activity seven days a week. Then, using online newsletters, journals and other resources, the program helps them stay motivated and track their progress.
About two dozen fitness-minded people of all ages, fitness levels and body types turned out for Sunday’s kickoff event. Some came on their own and others as members of workplace teams.
For Karen Hall of Brewer, Move and Improve offers just the right amount of support and encouragement for getting in shape.
“I’m getting a little older, and I want my family to be active,” said Hall, who works at the Penquis social services agency in Bangor and attended the event with her 8-year-old daughter Rylie. Hall said her family recently purchased the Wii Fit video exercise system and enjoys the virtual biking, yoga and running programs. Penquis has about 42 employees participating in Move and Improve this year, she said.
David Hocking and his wife Joan came over from Eddington for the kickoff.
“We’ve done Move and Improve for many years,” David Hocking said. Their motivation?
“Just good health,” he said. Hocking, who is retired, said he and his wife prefer walking over other activities, using a treadmill in their home during cold weather and moving outdoors once things warm up a little.
Cathy McKay of Old Town directs the wellness program for the Prentiss & Carlisle land management corporation.
“My motivation is to help keep our employees healthy,” she said, walking energetically around the indoor arena with her 16-year-old daughter Sydni. McKay said she often finds time to exercise during her lunch break and enjoys working out at the Old Town YMCA, swimming with Sydni and walking or running with her dog.
Rather than offering classes or promoting any specific type of exercise, Move and Improve wants participants to explore different activities that pique their interests and fit their schedules, their fitness goals and their budgets, said coordinator Nicole Hammar of EMHS.
“We encourage people to do whatever they’re comfortable with,” Hammar said. People might elect a brisk morning walk through an area mall before it opens for business, for example, or sign up for a class in yoga, tennis, kick-boxing or Zumba. Some will purchase gym or pool memberships to help them keep their commitments, Hammar said, while others will simply ramp up their dog-walking schedule or pop in a morning exercise video before breakfast.
The late-winter program is perfect for those who need a little extra support to stay active during chilly weather and those who want to get in shape for spring, Hammar said.
Registration for Move and Improve 2011 will be open through March 28. But folks who miss the enrollment deadline can still take advantage of many of the program’s resources, which can be found online at www.moveandimprove.org or on the Bangor Daily News website.