Community Challenge promotes fitness
The nonprofit Trust for America's Health published results recently of a study that predicts 60 percent of Ohioans will be obese by 2030.
Michelle Anderson, the senior membership and wellness director for the Union County YMCA, is familiar with the all the ominous statistics -- and with the excuses people provide to avoid staying in shape.
"I believe that 60 percent figure," Anderson said. "Sadly, we're always at or near the top of those lists about obesity.
"We're a convenience-oriented population, a fast-food population. Everyone is so busy. Everyone is over-committed. Everyone is stressed."
That is why the YMCA holds its annual Community Challenge every September, she said.
"We have more than 600 people from 11 different companies and the city of Marys-ville participating in various events to promote health and well-being," Anderson said.
The games include basketball, golf and bowling but also cornhole and trivia for the less athletically inclined. The friendly competition -- which runs for two-and-a-half-weeks -- ends on Sunday with the running of an obstacle course and with a six-team dodgeball tournament.
"We suspended the dodgeball tournament for a couple of years because the participants were becoming a little ... um, too enthusiastic, shall we say? But one of our companies, Sumitomo, asked for us to bring dodgeball back, so we did," Anderson said.
"I guess when you ask adults to play an elementary school sport, some of them revert to their adolescence," she said with a laugh. "We're just asking the participants this year to act like mature adults and to remember that we're the YMCA and that we need to honor our core values."
It's fitting that Anderson is overseeing a dodgeball tournament: Her message to people who have quit exercising is the same message Lance Armstrong has for Peter La Fleur (played by Vince Vaughn) when he quits his team in the movie, "Dodgeball."
"Quit? You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer, all at the same time," Armstrong tells La Fleur. "But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I'm sure you have a good reason to quit."
Anderson said the YMCA offers two free sessions with a personal trainer to all its new members. "One of the most difficult things about getting started is not knowing just what to do," she said. "I always tell new members not be intimidated. Because when you first come into the Y, it looks as if everyone here knows exactly what they're doing."
The YMCA has programs for all ages, from grade school on through to seniors. "It's never too soon or too late to embrace a healthy lifestyle," Anderson said. "That's why we go out into the schools and teach third-graders about wellness. And seniors come to the Y to rehabilitate after surgery or to get in a little better shape by walking."
This year, participation in the Community Challenge is down slightly from to 600. But Anderson expects that number to return to normal next year, especially after she gets the Honda assembly plant back and participating again.
She welcomes companies to contact her about next year's Community Challenge at (937) 578-4250.