National effort to reduce obesity and promote healthy living begins in local YMCA community
[USPRwire, Wed Mar 22 2006] In response to America's growing obesity and health-care crisis, the Ann Arbor YMCA is one of 30 national YMCAs participating in The Gulick Project, part of the YMCA Activate America™ campaign. Named after Luther Gulick, an early YMCA health and wellness pioneer, the goal of the Gulick Project is to re-engineer the way national YMCAs work with prospective and current members to promote healthy living. The YMCA is particularly focused on attracting and retaining health-seekers. These are people who want to get fit but have been frustrated by diets or fitness programs that do not meet their needs.
“With most states reporting obesity rates over 20%, we believe we can change the direction of the health of our community, and ultimately the nation, by helping health seekers feel more comfortable in a fitness environment,” states Diane Carr, Ann Arbor YMCA Senior Program Director. “The more comfortable these health seekers are, the more time they will spend at the YMCA. And with 16% of American adolescents ages 6 to 19 being overweight, it is also a priority for us to connect with these young people and help them develop healthy lifestyle habits.”*
The Ann Arbor YMCA Gulick Project hopes to create a relationship-based YMCA through the following:
Prospective members are given an individual consultation to learn about programs and services pertinent to their specific needs and background.
When enrolling their children in YMCA programs, parents receive a personal, staff-member welcome and are introduced to other members so that each new participant has a friend at the YMCA.
3. Small Communities
The YMCA helps build small support communities by creating “member appreciation” events and informal clubs for groups sharing various activities or classes. These communities increase member engagement and support long-term, healthy lifestyles.
As part of the Gulick Project, the Ann Arbor YMCA also:
• Works directly with participants to encourage healthy living and acknowledge small steps of progress by each member, whether in a class setting or during personal-training sessions.
• Offers health-education courses and one-on-one wellness coaching to help members focus on physical activity, improved nutrition and mental health.
• Provides healthy food choices in the facility, offering fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains and avoids sugar-sweetened drinks and trans fats.
• Emphasizes a specific, minimum amount of physical activity for all adult and children’s programs.
• Limits computer time and eliminates exposure to commercial broadcast television for children while they’re in the facility.
“The Gulick Project focuses on making a person feel healthier and successful rather than on weight loss,” states Larry Thomas, Ann Arbor YMCA Personal Coach. “Weight loss is a by-product of this individualized program that is based on a long-term relationship between the member and the YMCA community.”
About the Ann Arbor YMCA
The first Ann Arbor YMCA was organized by students at the University of Michigan in 1858. It was the second YMCA in the State of Michigan following Detroit. With our new, state-of-the-art facility opened on April 1, 2005, we provide health and wellness programs that build strong kids, strong families and strong communities. Please visit www.annarborymca.org or call 734-996-9622 for more information.
*Data from Center for Disease Control and 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
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