Mayor Thomas Menino launches initiative to create a healthier Boston
Kassmin Williams | 7/11/2013, 9:02 a.m.
Throughout the summer months, residents will have the opportunity to participate in free exercise classes as part of the Mayor Thomas Menino’s health initiative, “Fitness in the City.”
The mayor announced the launch of “Fitness in the City” in late June and partnered with Meta Fitness to kick off the summer-long event with an early morning boot-camp workout June 28. The program runs through August.
“Fitness in the City” is a continuation of Mayor Menino’s initiative — Boston Moves for Health — launched last summer to improve health in Boston. At the time, the city worked with a number of exercise organizations to provide free classes on City Hall Plaza.
For last year’s initiative, Menino had a specific goal that challenged residents to lose a collective 1 million pounds and travel 10 million miles through exercise.
More than 2,400 participants attended the classes, according to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC).
This year, the city hopes to attract more residents and expand the variety of classes offered.
BPHC has worked to provide more locations to offer classes, such as Faneuil Hall, the Greenway and Martini Memorial Shell Park in Hyde Park.
“Our Fitness on the Plaza classes were more popular than we expected last summer, and we want to build on that success by offering even more options in more places this year,” Menino stated. “Getting people out and active adds to the vitality of our city, and it’s a great way to promote healthy habits. We know that a lot of the participants in last year’s classes found out about them just by walking by, so we want to keep encouraging folks to let the city be their gym.”
Sponsors partnering with the city to provide classes include Beantown Bootcamp, Boston Sports Club, Ultimate Bootcamp, the Hyde Park YMCA, Z Spot Zumba and the East Boston YMCA.
The Greater Boston YMCA has worked for the last two and a half years to further promote healthy living by lowering membership rates and providing financial assistance to people who can’t afford the membership, according to YMCA executive director Dave Lawton.
Lawton said the YMCA has also recognized the need to physically go into the community, in particular Mattapan, where the obesity rate is higher than the city’s overall rate, according to the BPHC.
“We want to [get] more involved in that community,” Lawton said. “We thought the place to start would be the mayor’s program and offer fitness classes right where the folks live.”
Ultimate Fitness Founder Peter Lavelle joined the “Fitness in the City” initiative because he believes that fitness experts have a responsibility to not only spread information about the benefits of exercise, but to provide opportunities for individuals to actually participate in fitness activities.
“We can’t just tell everybody that exercise is important unless we give the opportunity to do something about it,” Lavelle said.
Z Spot Zumba owner Lena Andrade, who participated in last year’s initiative, has continued this year because he believes access to healthy living through exercise shouldn’t be limited by circumstances.
“Being healthy shouldn’t be something that’s determined by what you can afford,” Andrade said. “So that’s why we try to find ways [to] work with all kinds of people on all different levels.”