Felipe Vazquez has lost 20 pounds in the last four months. Nicole Guidi has dropped nearly 40. Their secret isn’t a new juice cleanse or miracle machine, but rather, simple group exercise and education.
Since May, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center has been coordinating an adult fitness program, partnering with High Country Health Care, the Summit Community Care Clinic, Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center, the Silverthorne Recreation Center and Elevation Fitness.
Matthew Madsen, FIRC adult fitness program coordinator, said he had 126 people join the six-month program and now has 75 steady participants. After setting initial goals with their doctors, participants attend three classes every week — either at the rec or fitness center — and attend two education classes every month about nutrition or wellness.
“We want to set up long-term behavior change,” Madsen said. “We want people to be as successful as possible after.”
With only two months to go, the program is facing questions about what happens next. The Colorado Health Foundation initially funded the program, but adult obesity is no longer one of its priority areas, said Madsen.
“I want to find a way to continue this support network in the community,” he said. “But the program won’t look like it did before, because of the funding.”
For Guidi, working out in a small group every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Elevation Fitness has become second nature.
“If I ever missed a day my body craved it and misses it,” she said. “It’s becoming a habit, but the group is afraid of what’s going to happen now.”
Even if the program doesn’t continue, or charges participants in the future, Madsen said the work people have done over the last four months, and will continue to do for the next two, will hopefully set them up for a healthier life.
“It’s important to identify the little victories,” he said. “It might take six months to get to the bigger health improvement goal, but you have to celebrate along the way too.”
Vazquez attends his classes at the rec center, switching between Quick Cardio and Muscle Madness. Between the short 30-minute workouts and the strength training, Vazquez said he is happy with the progress he’s made.
“I was overweight and worried about high cholesterol,” he said. “I feel better now. I feel light.”
The program emphasizes physical activity paired with other healthy lifestyle choices. Madsen said while some people have seen moderate success, others like Vazquez and Guidi have seen more dramatic weight loss.
“I’ve heard Summit County can be an intimidating place because it’s more fit compared to other places,” he said. “But I’ve heard from participants they feel comfortable and welcomed.”
Howard Head Sports Medicine also provided a free functional movement screening to participants, which can identify possible injury areas based on a person’s movement and help doctors pick exercises so people don’t get hurt.
While the future of the adult fitness program is uncertain, Madsen said whether it’s more energy or a more positive outlook, or even a smaller clothes size, the program is definitely helping the community.
“I’ve seen the development of a support group in the community of people in the program,” he said. “They’re getting together, working out and eating meals.”
For Vazquez, the program ending in two months won’t deter his efforts to continue his new road to success. It was hard to start, and he said he sweat more than he thought possible, but now it’s getting easier to do all of the workouts.
“My goal is to try to lose as much fat as possible and stay healthy and focused on whatever I’ve been doing,” he said.
For more information, contact Matt Madsen at MatthewM@summitfirc.org.
“We want to set up long-term behavior change. We want people to be as successful as possible after.”
FIRC adult fitness program coordinator