Whipping Summit County into shape the goal of new FIRC program
Since the results of the Summit County Health Assessment survey came out in early January, organizations around the county have been working to address four key health priorities to improve the health of Summit residents. Now, the Family & Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC) has coordinated 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.
The program is made possible by a grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, which invests in health-related grants and initiatives statewide. The purpose of the program is to focus on not only physical aspects of health, but educational and behavioral as well.
“The ultimate goal is more long-term behavior change and lifestyle change,” said Matthew Madsen, adult fitness program coordinator for FIRC. “It’s not just the fitness. There’s so much that goes into health that you’re trying to target different factors and different dimensions of it.”
The adult fitness program will take about 120 participants through six months worth of classes. Participants will attend fitness classes three times a week at either the Silverthorne rec center or Elevation Fitness in Dillon. In addition, participants will be required to attend nutrition and diet or general wellness classes twice a month.
All of this will push participants to succeed in their goal of weight loss, decreasing blood pressure or reaching an appropriate body composition (a factor dependent on aspects including weight, height and body type). To check progress, participants will check in with a physician for pre-screening, check in again three months into the program and at the end of the six months.
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“Obviously, obesity prevention is one of the goals of the (Summit County) health plan,” said Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of FIRC, “and I think that this program is unique in that it really does try and help remove some of the barriers that people who want to make changes in their lives often have challenges with — access to the rec center, strategies for motivation and creating new habits, that type of thing.”
Clinicians at Colorado West Regional Mental Health will be teaching the wellness classes, available in both English and Spanish, twice a month. The classes won’t be mental health-related but rather motivational in nature, according to program director Kathryn Davis.
“It’s specifically around behavior change and the different obstacles you can have,” she said. “For some people it’s just balancing the demands of work and family and themselves, making time for themselves. For some people it’s something as simple as time management, just understanding all of those components so people can be more successful.”
Participants in the classes will learn methods of overcoming challenges such as stress management as well as the usual ups and downs that come with changing behavioral habits over long periods of time. Davis wants to help people stay focused and, hopefully, find a network of support in their fellow program participants. Simply understanding how something like stress affects the body not only emotionally but physically can help people work through or even avoid it, she said. The other key is finding what motivates them and keep them focused on it.
“It’s helping people identify what’s meaningful to them,” Davis said. “I’m really excited about this program because it’s really addressing the whole self, it’s not addressing one aspect and hoping everything else is going to take care of itself.”
The program is not only for those who are already obese or in bad health, Madsen emphasized, but people who may be on the way to obesity or poor health, who could potentially prevent that slide with this program. Drangstveit added that motivation is also an important key.
“Our target person is somebody who’s motivated to lead a healthier lifestyle and is in some way underserved,” she said. “The Colorado Health Foundation funding is really to target underserved populations. They define that in a pretty broad way — it could be somebody who has a hard time accessing the rec center, it could be somebody who’s on Medicaid, it could be someone who’s uninsured.”
For this fitness program, the barriers have been removed, so all participants need to bring is the willingness to success.
“And we’ll help them with the rest,” Drangstveit said.
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