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Mayor Richard Alcombright kicks off the challenge.
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YMCA's Justin Ihne welcomes the crowd.
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Amanda Chilson, Mass in Motion coordinator, goes over the challenge.
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Becky Miner leads a Zumba demonstration.

North Adams Challenges Community to Get Fit

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Mayor's Fitness Challenge kicked off Friday night with exercise demonstrations at the Northern Berkshire YMCA.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Mayor’s Fitness Challenge kicked off with fitness demonstrations at the Northern Berkshire YMCA on Friday night.

Amanda Chilson, the Mass in Motion project coordinator with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, said the challenge was created to bring the community together and increase the wellness of North Adams citizens.

"I think this will really help bring us together as a community, and community building is what we need right now," Chilson said. "Also, increasing the health and wellness of the community is extremely beneficial, and trying to combine the two together was a huge inspiration."

The challenge will last for 10 weeks and participants will receive points depending on how much they work out or eat healthy. Participants can sign up individually or in teams and can partake in community events for extra points.

Chilson said a community calendar was being developed to help show participants the different fitness opportunities in the city.

"We have some amazing fitness instructors, and we have amazing trails," she said. "We want people to experience them and know what they can be used for."

She said the calendar contains free group hikes, walks and bike rides that will help bring the community together and will benefit "social emotional health."

The kickoff event had fitness samples from local instructors such as Miner Fitness and Zumba Fitness in the Berkshires. Many local business and groups will provide opportunities and resources throughout the challenge. Participants will also receive points for partaking in community events and races.

Justin Ihne, CEO of the Northern Berkshire YMCA, welcomed the kickoff participants and said the YMCA was happy to involved.

"This is a momentous occasion for North Adams, and this is how a community comes together for a common good," he said. "This is what it’s all about, and the YMCA is so proud to be a part of this."

Miner Fitness instructor Caleb Miner led one of the demonstrations for the challenge.

"We are excited to do a demo tonight," Miner said. "Everybody needs to get into good shape and into good health."

Chilson said one of the larger goals of the event is sustainability. She hopes that after the 10 weeks, participants will maintain healthy lifestyles. She said nearly 450 people have signed up for the challenge and a Facebook page has been set up. (iBerkshires' editorial staff signed up as the Newsbreakers team.)

Mayor Richard Alcombright hoped the challenge will not only promote a healthier life style and help motivate the community, but aid him in reaching his own goals.

"My goal is to become active again, and I know I need to eat better and lose weight," the mayor said. "Even though that is part of what this challenge is all about, it is less about fitness and more about wellness."

Participant Raya Kirby formed a team with some friends and was excited about the challenge and the mayor’s involvement.

"I think that it is great that the mayor is sort of spearheading the whole challenge and saying that he has has kind of gotten off track and wants to lose a little weight," Kirby said. "I think it will benefit the community as a whole."

Alcombright addressed the packed gym and thanked all who were involved.

"I am truly honored to be kicking off this challenge, and I thank all who have worked so hard to get us here today," he said. "I thank all of you who have signed up and by doing so are making a commitment to not only your own health and wellness, but to the health and wellness of entire community."

Tags: #NAMAfitchallenge,   health & wellness,   

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