Whether you're working to meet new fitness goals for the new year or simply trying to stay active on a daily basis, the statewide fitness campaign Scale Back Alabama may help you keep your stride.
The initiative, which kicks off Thursday, Jan. 9, is designed to encourage residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and to have fun while doing so. Participation in the program is free.
SBA lasts 10 weeks, and during that time, the cities of Auburn and Opelika will work together to provide fun fitness activities and nutritional events.
To get involved, residents are asked to visit any of the Lee County weigh-in sites — which will be listed online next week at www.scalebackalabama.com — either with a fitness partner or alone. Those who register as a team of two will be eligible to win state prizes.
At the initial weigh-in, participants will be weighed and goals will be set. Weigh-in week is Jan. 11-18.
"Last year the Auburn-Opelika area participants lost a total of 4,007 pounds and 516 people participated," said Whitney Morris, aquatics and special events coordinator with Auburn Parks and Recreation. "It's a great way for people to get involved in the community and touch base with others who are also trying to get healthy as well as participate in programs that their cities offer."
Event themes will change each month. First, January will find local events concentrating on promoting good health and wellness habits in those struggling with arthritis. Walk with Ease events will be created through a partnership with the East Alabama Medical Center, the Opelika Sportsplex and the American Arthritis Association.
"It's going to teach people who have arthritis or are in the early stages of that arthritic battle how to exercise and manage the pain that comes along with that," Morris said. "People can come to classes, do activities and get help dealing with arthritis in their daily lives."
In February, events will center on Zumba — a dance fitness program. Lat year, the "Zumbathon" was a success, Morris said.
"Everyone who came to our events really enjoyed them, but I do think the Zumbathon was the most actively attended," she said of last year's SBA events.
March events will concentrate on "hands-on nutrition," with dietitians giving tips, local restaurant owners speaking on how to eat healthy when eating out and "Walk with A Doc" events, where residents visit EAMC and take a walk outdoors with a doctor.
Morris is also hoping to add a farmers market event, to give people the opportunity to buy fresh, local produce.
SBA will end in early April with another weigh-in week, where residents will do an official weigh-in and report how much weight they were able to lose during the 10 weeks. Last year, Morris said the highest amount of weight lost in Lee County was achieved by a woman who lost about 34 pounds.
To keep people motivated once SBA is over, Parks and Recreation is planning to ramp up Active Auburn — a new event promoting health and wellness year-round. Active Auburn will start up just as SBA is ending, with events that not only promote a healthy lifestyle, but also inform residents of everything the city has to offer.
"I think it's important for people to have something to constantly keep them motivated," Morris said. "It's the beginning of the year, and everyone has their new year resolutions, and a 10-week program is great, but if you don't have that continual support system after that, then it's very easy to lose that motivation."
Activities will be creative and include things like an exercise-oriented Easter egg hunt and various walking and hiking events around Auburn.
"We can show people,'These are the places you can go, but this is also a historic area, so you can explore some of the places that you've never been,' " Morris said.
In June, Active Auburn will continue with a "swim-a-thon" event, and Morris said there could even be some scavenger hunt events in downtown Auburn.
"It'll be something people can enjoy because they can have something to do each month to get outside and get active."
To find out more about Scale Back Alabama, visit www.scalebackalabama.com. Residents can also stay up to date with the program via the Lee County SBA Facebook page: Scale Back Alabama — Lee County.