Wednesday, February 18, 2004

SparkCincinnati hopes to ignite city of fitness



By Peggy O'Farrell
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Check your watch, then hit the gym.

It's time for the 10 Million Minute Challenge, a new fitness initiative from SparkPeople.com, the Cincinnati-based weight loss Web site, and its Spark Cincinnati effort.

Greater Cincinnatians can register at www.sparkcincinnati.com. The site features suggestions for how to start racking up minutes with activity programs. Anyone who signs up for the challenge, which is free, wins a year's worth of SparkPeople.com's diet software.

Organizers hope the city as a whole can log 10 million minutes worth of sweat time, says Mike Kramer, spokesman for SparkPeople.com and SparkCincinnati.

"It doesn't all have to be gym time. We want people to understand that active lifestyles don't just happen with going to the gym two or three hours a day. It's how active you are everyday. It doesn't matter if you're doing Pilates or biking or gardening or playing with the kids or helping somebody move their furniture," he says.

Vickie Magliano is doing her part.

The 43-year-old Milford woman works out three to five days a week at the gym or at her home.

Magliano regularly uses the treadmill, weights and fitness balls, and became addicted to Spinning several months ago - so addicted that she's seeking certification as a Spinning instructor.

She also just started taking yoga classes.

"I love working out," Magliano says. "I've been working out since I was 19."

She signed up for the 10 Million Minute Challenge in December. So far, Magliano and other participants have logged 376,918 minutes of activity.

The fitness challenge is the centerpiece of SparkCincinnati, a campaign to make Cincinnatians the best people in America, Kramer says.

"If the city's going to be known for anything great, it's not going to be because of the buildings or the planning or anything out of a feasibility study; it's going to be because of the people," he says.

Organizers see physical fitness as the basis for potential greatness, Kramer says, and SparkCincinnati is a three-year effort.

This year's first phase focuses on fitness. In the second phase, participants make the transition from fitness to leadership training, and the third phase focuses on community service.

"We want to create a population of fit leaders who are interested in doing great things for the community," Kramer says.

To help meet SparkCincinnati's 10 Million Minute Challenge, visit Web site and register for it. You can log your activity minutes, compare your progress with friends', pledge minutes for different organizations and get ideas on how to rack up some activity minutes for the challenge.




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