Sports & Fitness Q&A

Q: How can you organize a citywide

campaign to get healthier?

A: First of all, decide on one mission and

involve everyone you can.

In 2002, the

Mayor’s Fitness Council was developed in

collaboration with ChicagoWorksout,

which is Mayor Richard M. Daley’s initiative

to promote, educate and motivate

healthy lifestyles for Chicagoans of all


This is a citywide campaign that

many can relate to and recognize.

It is a

shared mission by all Chicago Citywide

agencies, including the Mayor’s Office,

the Chicago Park District, the Mayor’s

Office of Special Events, the Chicago

Department of Public Health, Chicago

Youth and Family Services, the Chicago

Fire Department, and many more notfor-

profit and for-profit health-orientated


The Mayor’s Fitness

Council Mission reads: “The Mayor’s

Fitness Council promotes, encourages

and motivates the development of a

physically active and healthy lifestyle for

Chicagoans of all ages. The Mayor of the

City of Chicago appoints all members of

the MFC. The MFC will recruit the support

of individuals, community-based

organizations, corporations and others to

help promote physical activity and a

healthy lifestyle for the people of

Chicago. The council increases awareness

of the importance of exercise and good

health through public appearances and

the distribution of relevant information.

The MFC encourages private and public

agencies to promote physical fitness and

the awareness of the benefits that come

with living a healthy life. It also assists

educational organizations to understand

the importance of physical activity and

good health. The MFC strives to help all

Chicagoans to enjoy a physically active

and healthy lifestyle.”

MFC has created

and produced two annual Chicago Moves

Day events to demonstrate there is an

active choice for everyone in Chicago,

whether that may be taking the first steps

to get off the couch or running your first


MFC also strives to promote healthier

nutrition choices and teach Chicagoans

the basic equation of energy balance, in

other words to eat better and move more.

The MFC also has done a great job of collecting

basic health assessment questionnaires

and offering health screenings at

their events, to assess which communities

are at risk.

Once more data is collected

the MFC hopes to reach out to these communities

with resources, be it educational,

access to classes, or giving information

about low-cost fitness centers, like those

found in the Chicago Park District.

Colleen Lammel-Harmon is Fitness

Senior Program Specialist and Co-Chair of

the Mayor’s Fitness Council for the Chicago

Park District. Colleen is scheduled to give

related presentations at Parks & Rec

Business LIVE! at Deer Creek State Park,

near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

Q: How do you attract seniors to your fitness


A: Keep it simple, social, consistent, and

most of all, fun!

Offer a non-competitive class that

also offers a challenge to active seniors. A good senior class should have music from

an era the seniors can recognize. Utilizing

resistance bands can reap the benefits of

minimizing osteoporosis and increasing

bone mass without heavy and cumbersome


Keeping up with the

trends, such as Pilates and yoga, is a fun

way to mix beginners and seniors into

one class. The low-impact, basic-to-follow

scheme is perfect for a beginner level

and senior participant.

Encourage instructors to teach seniors

on a very personal level and remain open

for feedback, which will make or break a


Many seniors like a challenge.

However, the instructor needs to use

active listening before increasing the

choreography and intensity.

Colleen Lammel-Harmon

Q: How do you stress the importance of

maintaining fitness center equipment to

unmotivated staff?

A: Educate them first on the importance

of the fitness equipment and get them

involved in trainings. This should be

based on both how to use the equipment

correctly, and methods to get them

involved in their own health using these


Possibly host an employee fitness

day. Make it easy to keep duties routine,

create incentives, develop daily

cleaning logs, and have random spot


Colleen Lammel-Harmon

Q: Can you have kids’ fitness classes

that are not marked as an “exercise

class”, which may turn kids off?

A: Introduce non-traditional fitness

opportunities. These can include Fitness

Inflatables, ranging from Jumping Jacks

to Blow- up Obstacle Courses, Fitness

Arcade style pieces like Dance Dance

Revolution, Game Bikes, and other interactive

video style games.

Some fun classes

to implement should focus on engaging

children’s interest, as well as their

heart rates.

These may include sport specific

drill games (like drills and skills),

dance orientated (like music and movement)

or even a circuit style class using

fun fitness tools where children move

from cardiovascular stations to resistance

stations when a whistle blows or music


Other classes that have worked

well are kids’-based yoga or animal-shape

yoga poses.

Colleen Lammel-Harmon

Q: Some of the adult softball players in

our leagues drink beer after the game in

our parking lots. This is against department

rules and the litter left behind is a

problem. Short of intervention by law

enforcement does anyone have any

other ideas?

A: We had this problem too. We have

changed policy and now allow players to

drink beer in controlled and secured

areas after games.

A special permit is

issued to each team wishing to socialize

in this manner. The permit is issued at a

cost to the teams that covers administrative

overhead, a refundable damage

deposit, opportunity costs, and the cost

of an onsite security person to help keep

order and enforce other park rules.

It is

quite popular with some of our adult

teams while generating additional revenue

for the programs.

William Potter is the parks and

recreation division manager for Orange

County Parks, Florida. He can be reached at Bill is scheduled to

give presentations on park and facility design

and trails and wetlands at Parks & Rec

Business LIVE! at Deer Creek State Park,

near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

Q: How has recreation programming

changed in your community during the

past several years?

A: We serve a community of 25,000 residents

as the city’s Parks, Recreation &

Forestry Department. We compete with

the local YMCA (who will break ground

soon on a new $4 million facility), the

state’s largest private health/fitness club

(who added a $3 million outdoor water

park in 2004), and local associations representing

Little League, hockey and soccer.

Our department also runs an outdoor

family aquatic center (required to break

even operationally) and several other

sports-related programs in baseball, softball

and basketball.

As you can see there

are a lot of choices with some overlapping

of programs.

As a result, our department

has chosen to offer a very highly

respected swimming lesson program that

has set records each of the past three

years for registration and a greatly

revamped recreation program, centered

on enrichment-type activities.

We have

found great success with our enrichment

programs. Although we still offer traditional

programs, including limited youth

sport programs and a large adult softball

program (over 1,000 players) we are

emphasizing this new direction.


to the swim lessons, we have set records

for both registration and revenues the

past three years for the enrichmentprograms.

Programs we offer now

include drama, Spanish, science, parent/

child classes, craft classes (a really big

hit), themed programs such as Hallowiener,

which includes games, craft and a

snack, music classes and Thursday afternoon

early release programs that include

entertainers and performers.

Names of

some classes are Rock Hounds, Magic

School Bus, Junk Box Wars, Ooey Gooey

Day and SuperKids.

Programs serve the

age range of 2-12 along with parents.

Another change we are seeing are parents

attending, both moms and dads.

There is

a fairly strong desire to offer more programs

during the time period of 4-7 p.m.

so adults can see their kids participate.

Going to the enrichment program concept

has benefited our city, its residents

and our department greatly. The positive

response by the community has solidified

our department’s role in the programming

area of citizens’ needs.


information on our enrichment programs

and swimming lessons can be obtained

from our Recreation/Aquatics Supervisor,

Sherry Herwig, sherwig@cityof

Robert M. Holling is the Director of

Parks, Recreation & Forestry for the City of

Sun Prairie, Wis. For further questions, Bob

can be reached at rholling@cityofsunprairie.

com. Bob will be giving presentations

on parks and playgrounds at Parks & Rec

Business LIVE! at Deer Creek State Park,

near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

Q: How do you attract teens to your

youth programs?

A: Attracting teens to our youth programs

has been a challenge, but we have found

that teens will participate if they play an

important role in the coordination, implementation,

advertising, or volunteering for

the actual event.

For example, we coordinate

a local event for teens called the In the

Spotlight Teen Talent Show. This event

showcases the various talents of area teens,

and winners are judged and are awarded

prizes in categories such as Best Band, Best

Musical Performance, Best Dance, and so


Teens are used as volunteer judges

during the audition process to decide who

goes on to the actual show.

These teens are

encouraged to help promote the event to

their friends, hence our advertising is

increased via word of mouth to other teens

at local schools and teen hangouts.


are also solicited to help run the show,

such as backstage hands, performer

check-in, VIP escorts, and other duties as


Another popular teen event that

we coordinate is our Back to School Fest,

which is a festival that includes live teen

band performances, food, games, and

other activities.

This year the event highlighted

five local teen bands that have large

teen followers, so to increase our attendance

we asked each band to promote the

event to their friends and followers by distributing

fliers to them at their schools,

hang-outs, the local mall, and to whomever

they could.

This gives the sense of ownership

to the teens and in return helped us

attract more teens to this great teen event.

Devon Jorden, Recreation Superintendent,

Community Associations of The

Woodlands (Texas), Parks and Recreation

Bryan BuchkoComment