BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Mayor’s Fitness Challenge kicked off on Tuesday afternoon at the Midtown Cultural & Educational Center in Daytona Beach with a good turnout.
By the end of the first day, 136 people had registered for the event sponsored by the City of Daytona Beach. The opening event included registration, weigh in and a healthy meal.
Residents from all walks of life, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, social-economic backgrounds, have signed on. Registration is $20.
A community event
“This event sends a message of how being healthy and being engaged is important. It also is about doing it collectively,” said Mayor Derrick Henry. “People like the sense of working together, working out together and being together. It’s more fun working out with others than typically by yourself.”
The Mayor’s Fitness Challenge runs from Jan. 7-March 14. There is a 10-week schedule with activities for adults of all ages and fitness levels, including Zumba, yoga, walking, running, dancing and other indoor and outdoor activities.
Activities take place on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. The full schedule with dates and locations is located online on the city’s website and challenge page (codb.us/1040/Mayors-Fitness-Challenge).
A profitable undertaking
The event is all about health and well-being.
“The key is to get people to understand that you don’t always have to pay money to work out or exercise. We have a lot of facilities in the community to work out and move that don’t cost,” Henry expressed.
“We know that exercise, sleeping right and eating right enhances your quality of life and length of life. It also helps people make more money by being able to work and be more profitable.”
There will be a weigh-in at the beginning of the program and end to track results of the man and woman who lose the most weight while completing the program.
Prizes will be awarded to those who lose the highest percentage of weight. First place is $500, second place is $250, and third place is $100. Additional prizes will be awarded.
‘Positive and uplifting’
Participants say they’re ready for the challenge.
Valencia Robinson is a breast cancer survivor who has participated since the event’s inception.
“I have to stay active or stress will get to me,” Robinson said. “This event is really fun. It introduces us to so many different healthy activities, whether Zumba, yoga, tai chi, strength training, etc. It samples everything.”
Diane Scot is participating for the fourth consecutive year; she won it in 2018.
“I love it. I enjoy it. I came in second my first year losing 20 pounds,” Scot said.
“Two years ago, I won after losing 33 pounds. Last year I had to drop out. It’s a great event. It’s fun. The people are positive and uplifting. It’s a great way to get out and get moving.”
Since its creation in 2016, the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge has grown and progressed. In recent years, it has added different activities.
Last year, 48 people pre-registered for the event; this year 98 people did.
“It has grown tremendously. We’ve increased our pre-registration,” Henry said. “The number of people that have participated has been phenomenal. A lot of the people who participate return every year.”
Historically and even on Tuesday, women dominated the event.
“We have a lot of women that participate. We’d like for more men to participate,” Henry noted.
Importance of location
Having the event in Midtown is also symbolic and key.
Midtown is in the 32114 zip code. A 2017 Florida Department of Health report stated that health disparities in the zip code included high rates of new HIV/AIDS cases, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and high blood sugar.
The 32114 zip code covers a large portion of Daytona’s Black community. It has been documented as the least healthy in Volusia County.
“We do have a lot of disparities in this area,” Henry said. “I am supporting turning a part of Midtown into a health equity zone.”
“Our equity factors are so depressed in this area. There are a lot of issues we need to address in this community. It’s not just financial; its health, education and more,’’ he added.
For more information and to register online, log on to codb.us/1040/MayorsFitness-Challenge.