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Richfield readies for next Fitness Challenge

3/6/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Richfield Mayor Bobbie Beshara is shown at right with Marylou and Jack Turk as they hit the walking trails last year for the Richfield Fitness Challenge.
Photo courtesy of Bobbie Beshara
RICHFIELD — Mayor Bobbie Beshara knows the Fitness Challenge she issued to Richfield residents last year worked because she saw results herself.

“I lost over 20 pounds,” she said, adding that she heard positive results from some of the 90 residents who took part last year.

Now the mayor is again rolling out a multi-week challenge to get residents active and help them lead healthier lives. It kicks off March 23.

In cooperation with University Hospitals (UH) Ahuja Medical Center, the challenge asks that residents commit to regular activity that will culminate with special recognition for participants at Community Day Aug. 10.

Beshara said she began the effort last year for a couple of reasons.

“When I became mayor, I found it’s a very stressful job at times, and we don’t take the time for ourselves,” she said, noting that she gained 5 to 10 pounds after being on the job. “Now, I make that time.”

The fact that the village has 5 miles of walking trails was also a reason, she added.

“People really enjoyed the trails we had and enjoyed the fact that we put this together for the whole community,” she said.

According to UH Ahuja President Susan Juris, the Beachwood medical center works with Richfield’s safety forces on training. They are serving as a partner and sponsor of the Richfield Fitness Challenge, she added.

“We really applaud Mayor Beshara’s interest in activity and helping people to move about,” Juris said. “We consider inactivity to be the same threat as smoking was in the past.”

To sign up for the challenge, residents are asked to attend the kick-off event March 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Village Hall, 4410 W. Streetsboro Road. Those who sign up will receive a T-shirt and stopwatch from UH Ahuja.

Those who can’t make that event can still sign up after that date at Village Hall or by calling UH Ahuja at 216-285-4069.

This year, Beshara has upped the ante and is encouraging participants to do 30 minutes of activity four  times a week. Last year, participants were asked to be active three times a week. The challenge allows participants to choose any kind of exercise.

Steve Pelton, UH Ahuja’s senior marketing strategist, said the challenge also is providing more opportunities for participants to meet to keep their motivation high.

“We know the more often we got this group together, it would keep them motivated,” Pelton said. “So we tried to increase minutes on a weekly basis and also set up a monthly checkpoint for group physical activity and a presentation or cooking demonstration to keep them focused on moving forward.”

Monthly checkpoint events will take place on the third Monday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Masonic Hall, 4586 Streetsboro Road. Each meeting will have a 30-minute physical group activity followed by a presentation or demonstration from UH Ahuja representatives.

Participants also will have the chance to take part in webinars hosted by UH Ahuja, Pelton said. They can also use an online system to track their activity or use pen and paper, he added. Those who use the online system will get the chance to see how the community as a whole is racking up hours of activity.

For more information, go to www.richfieldvillageohio.org or call 330-659-9201.

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