In two years, Metro Technology Center’s 12 to 15 weekly MetroFit Wellness Community OutReach classes, made possible in part by the Oklahoma City Community Foundation’s Wellness Initiative, have maxed out.
“We offer multiple sessions of tai chi, Zumba, Get Fit, line dancing, kickboxing and yoga,” said Metro Tech wellness coordinator Valerie McMurray-Hopkins.
Different classes can accommodate different numbers of people, but the max per class is 45 people. Participants attend weekly classes, and they often stack them, taking two or three in a row on a single day, McMurray-Hopkins said. And because Metro Tech tracks participant data, McMurray said that once people start, they tend to increase their activity, with 14 percent of participants exercising four hours or more each week.
Oklahoma City Community Foundation (OCCF) defines wellness as the prevention and intervention of diseases that are a function of lifestyle decisions.
“We looked at several approaches and asked ourselves the question, ‘How can we encourage people to improve their health?’ The data … indicates that activity is key,” said Teresa Rose Crook, OCCF director of community programs. “And exercise and physical activity is very personal. What one person enjoys or what works for them may be completely different from another person, so offering variety of options is key.”
Activity is also measurable, which means OCCF and Metro Tech can gauge if their efforts are working. They track class attendance, body measurements and weight and food choices.
McMurray also notices other benefits.
“People become happier. Their attitudes change and they become more positive,” she said. “People in our classes end up with accountability partners and friends. Our students will cheer each other on or walk together on weekends.”
OCCF’s Wellness Initiative and Metro Tech’s MetroFit classes are based on the YMCA’s OK 5210 campaign, which encourages everyone to eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, spend two or fewer hours in front of any sort of screen, get an hour of physical activity and drink zero sugar-sweetened beverages each day.
While this formula includes two dietary guidelines, OCCF focuses on increasing activity through partnerships when possible rather than implementing new projects.
“We deliberated on whether to include nutritional education as a part of our Wellness Initiative,” Crook said, “and while many of the programs we are supporting do have some nutritional content, for us, increasing physical activity was the most doable and the most measurable.”
McMurray hopes to expand on the classes and build a dedicated fitness facility at Metro Tech.
“It’s a network, and we take our classes into the community,” she said. “When it’s fun and social, people want to do more of it.”
Crook has witnessed that phenomenon within the OCCF staff, which enjoys a robust in-house wellness program.
“It’s contagious,” she said. “People start making healthy choices, and those lead to more healthy choices.”
McMurray’s message is in order to have a quality life, people need to adopt a quality lifestyle.
“That means a quality lifestyle mentally, physically and nutritionally,” she said.
MetroFit’s 12-week class sessions cost $25. Enrollment ends Monday. Visit metrotech.edu/metrofit.
Print Headline: Fit community; Metro Tech’s MetroFit Wellness Community OutReach program offers fitness classes to improve overall health.