New exercise program kicks into gear

By GAYLE WEBER

gweber@dailynews.net

Weight loss, a new exercise program and fitness expertise are just a few of the goals participants in the Center for Health Improvement's new program KickStart are looking forward to in a new year.

The program, taking the place of CHI's annual weight loss program Pound Plunge, kicked off Thursday, with close to 400 participants, exceeding expectations, according to fitness director Stephanie Schaffer.

A "steady flow" of people --  husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and other combinations of individuals -- arrived at CHI at Hays Medical Center to weigh in for the first time Thursday.

"Having someone to rely on, I think that's very important," Schaffer said of the program.

KickStart focuses on making healthy lifestyle choices, rather than weight loss, which was a main goal of Pound Plunge.

The program will offer cooking classes, grocery store tours, group fitness classes and more for the next two months. The only other time participants will weigh in will be March 15, the end of the program.

Janet and Nancy Stramel, sisters-in-law in Hays, have participated in Pound Plunge in the past and decided to give KickStart a go this year.

"It's something new for the new year," Nancy Stramel said.

The sisters-in-law walk together but wanted to add some new exercises to their routine to lose weight and feel better, Nancy Stramel said.

Health assessments were performed on participants checking in Thursday. Flexibility, push ups, TRX pulls and a run/walk test measured participants' abilities, and Schaffer said those tests hopefully can be performed at the end of the program to show progress.

Participants can earn points with each activity they complete at CHI. Points can be turned in for prizes or training sessions with CHI staff.

KickStart was the perfect way to start the new year for Randy Jordan, Hays. He said the program helps him stay in shape through the winter.

"It helps me go into the summer, helps me lose some weight, so I can umpire my college baseball," Jordan said.

Schaffer said she saw many new faces Thursday, which is a positive sign for the program.

"We just want to get the community to focus on something other than weight loss," Schaffer said.