Tyler's Fit City Challenge

By Melanie Hill on April 28, 2011 at 7:41 pm EST

Tyler is shaping up, thanks to the Fit City Challenge – an ongoing citywide health initiative helping residents shed pounds and save lives.

"Our goal is our mission statement, which is to make Tyler a fit city one bite, one step, and one health-conscious decision at a time," says George Roberts, chief executive officer of the Northeast Texas Public Health District. "We feel obesity is one of the greatest threats to Tyler, and to the United States as a whole."

Tyler Partnerships Make Fit City Challenge a Reality

Roberts first proposed the lofty intiative more than two years ago, and soon gained media support from the Tyler Morning Telegraph and KYTX CBS19. Today, the Fit City Challenge steering committee guides a coalition of more than 50 partners from Tyler's education, business, government, medical and nonprofit communities. In October 2010, the Fit City Challenge kicked off with a day-long celebration in Tyler's Bergfeld Park, where thousands turned out for fitness and cooking demonstrations and information on area health resources.

"We wanted to have a big event to get everyone excited," says Susan Guthrie, communications director for the City of Tyler and Fit City Challenge steering committee member. "There are so many community resources that focus on health and fitness and we wanted to help people find something they love, whether it be running or organized sports. There's not just one answer from the fitness standpoint."

Parks, Fitness Centers Ample in Tyler

In November 2010, Tyler Mayor Barbara Bass led the first monthly FitWalk at Rose Rudman Recreational Trail. One of 25 city parks, Rose Rudman Recreational Trail provides a scenic backdrop for jogging, walking, biking and rollerblading. Residents also enjoy the parks' 1,000-plus acres of playgrounds, athletic fields, walking trails, tennis courts, multipurpose courts and open spaces.

Indoor facilities include the Glass Recreation Center, a multiuse fitness and community center housing basketball and volleyball courts, an indoor track, weight room, cardio equipment and group classes. The city also is home to numerous private fitness centers, including Premier Fitness and Woodcreek Athletic Club. At the Olympic Center, a comprehensive medical fitness center operated by East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, services include personal trainers, group classes and massage therapy. The center also provides community education and periodic screenings and seminars at no cost.

"I see what we do as the bookends of the health-care continuum," says Jeramie Hinojosa, director of ETMC Olympic Centers and Fit City Challenge steering committee member. "People often get thrust into the health-care system out of necessity, but prevention is starting to become more prevalent. Because exercise impacts your everyday quality of life, we want to get to people while they're still healthy."

Fitness classes, dancing and health screenings are just a few of the activities available at the Tyler Senior Citizens Center, proving that good health knows no age limit in northeast Texas.

Smoking Ban a Part of the Bigger Picture

Tyler residents also can breathe easier, thanks to a recent smoking ordinance banning smoking in all public buildings. From restaurants to parks, there's no question that Tyler is a picture of health.

"What we want is for people to look at Tyler as a fit city," Roberts says. "We want them to walk in and realize that this is a community interested in their citizens being healthy."

Read more about health in Tyler, TX.

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