The coordinator of a new citywide health and wellness initiative said it should leave Mobilians with “no excuse” not to exercise and improve their physical well being after a kickoff event April 26.
Cindy Ross, an exercise physiologist who lost more than 100 pounds herself after watching her mother and 34-year-old brother fall victim to heart disease and diabetes, respectively, said the goal of One Fit Mobile will be to offer free activities or educational opportunities related to health and fitness somewhere in the city, every day of the week.
“I’ve had this vision for five years but it really came together quickly after Mayor Stimpson proposed we get a committee together,” Ross said, adding that the initiative’s theme is a spin-off of Stimpson’s “One Mobile” campaign slogan.
“He did one of my fitness boot camps and I asked whether he had a health plan for Mobile,” she said. “Since December, the committee defined the mission to empower the citizens of Mobile to take charge of their health and physical fitness through education, encouragement, and the availability of physical activities.”
As the owner of Bodies by Cindy, Ross said she recognizes a health crisis in the community. Among all states, Alabama ranks fourth in the percentage of obese adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control, ninth in deaths related to diabetes and fifth in the morbidity of heart disease.
Ross said many of her clients battle ailments related to being overweight.
“A lot of people have developed Type 2 diabetes or come in with joint problems,” she said. “Typically we put them on a low-impact exercise routine and after about four months many of them have told me their quality of life has improved better than they’d ever imagined and that’s really the payoff. If you don’t have a good quality of life, what’s it all worth? With One Fit Mobile, we are putting it all out there and challenging people to make an investment in their health and be there in their golden years.”
Saturday, the initiative kicks off with a day of education, activities and entertainment at Medal of Honor Park on Hillcrest Road. Afterward, participants will be able to register at the campaign’s website, www.onefitmobile.com, where there is a daily calendar of events and a personal progress tracker that keeps a record of miles traveled, or inches and weight lost and dietary changes.
Through the assistance of the program’s many sponsors, organizers will be able to reward participants who reach and exceed their own personal benchmarks.
“People tend to do better if they’re incentivized,” Ross said. “If you put something out there in front of them they will work harder. So we’ve been able to secure three big prizes, like a cruise vacation and a spa day, and our goal is to award them every quarter to get people excited.”
One Fit Mobile’s fitness tracker will also reward people on a point system which can be redeemed for smaller, local prizes ultimately resulting in more foot traffic for local businesses, Ross said. But the program’s main goal is to continue to offer activities for free or at low cost.
A glimpse at the website’s calendar for the last week of April provides a free group bike ride on Sunday, a $10 fitness boot camp on Monday, a free bike ride, run or Zumba class on Tuesday, two free runs or a $10 fitness boot camp on Wednesday, a blood pressure seminar or bike ride on Thursday, a Relay for Life event or question-and-answer with a personal trainer on Friday, and more than five free events on the first Saturday in May.
The calendar is simply an aggregation of local health-related events that were already organized and promoted by dozens of separate organizations, Ross explained, but now they can be found in one central location.
“When I put together this plan I had no idea all this was happening,” she said. “Now, anybody and everybody that does that anything health related has come under one roof, and that’s One Fit Mobile.”
Stimpson, who jokingly warned about the rigors of Ross’ boot camp, said he was pleased with the variety of activities the new initiative promotes, which can be as simple as joining others to pick up trash along thoroughfares.
“One Fit Mobile is the result of inspired citizens stepping up and doing their part to make Mobile the most family friendly city in America,” he said. “I love the idea of combining physical fitness with trash removal and look forward to participating in the kickoff event. It’s great to see our citizens taking ownership in Mobile and we hope others will follow their good example.”
Ross insisted the program wasn’t a veiled attempt to lure new customers to her own business, but rather a “coordinated effort aimed at healthy eating and promoting an active lifestyle into a unifying community commitment to better health.”
“I love the city my business thrives in and I’m tired of going to places like Austin or Seattle and being envious that our city isn’t like that — where more people are outside enjoying it,” she said. “The hope is, with more people using the parks and facilities we already have, there will also be an incentive to improve them and create more.”