Fitness Open House gives attendees a healthy start to the new year

Staff writer

The James City County Recreational Center was a one-stop shop for residents looking to start the new year with a renewed focus on their health at its annual Fitness Open House Saturday morning.

Kristen Tolj, health and wellness program coordinator for the James City County Recreation Center, expected between 250 and 350 people to attend the event.

There, they could consult one-on-one with fitness instructors, try a number of instructor-led classes and get blood pressure and cholesterol screenings from Sentara nurses, all for free.

Tolj said the event gives attendees a chance to set new health goals by speaking with instructors in an informal setting, and to dispel any fears or hesitations they may have about exercising.

“People are looking to restart and reboot themselves a little bit, and we want to definitely help them and guide them in a little bit of an easier format,” she said. “Gyms and personal training can be intimidating, so if we can get them in to be able to talk to instructors about what they want, they’re more inclined to at least start walking on the track or take a new class that they’ve never tried before.”

Attendees covered the spectrum from young families to older adults, with some exercising regularly and others looking to make it a new habit. Suzanne Weber, 77, said she tries to stay active by walking 2 to 3 miles each day, but decided to attend the open house to learn more about the classes on offer.

“I think it’s so nice that they find it possible to interact one-on-one with people,” she said.

Classes at the Fitness Open House included Zumba, cardio hip-hop, tai chi, kettlebell work-outs and yoga. Instructors also offered classes geared toward families, such as children’s yoga and Zumba.

Tai chi instructor Michael Wilson said his class was aimed toward beginners, and hoped to show attendees the ways that the martial arts can help with movement and balance.

“I’m trying to form a good foundation and basis for tai chi here in our county so that they can actually move onto other classes and feel more comfortable with the movement and not feel clumsy,” he said. “If you have a problem with a knee, I will show you how to move your body to alleviate those problems that you’re having.”

Sentara nurses Cindy Coleman and Cathy Preston were also on hand to give attendees free blood pressure tests, cholesterol screenings and BMI reviews.

“It’s just a good way for people to check on the wonderful progress that they’re making, and whether it’s making a difference in the numbers here,” Coleman said.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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