No better time — or place — to get fit

Fort Wayne is a great place to keep that New Year's resolution and practice an active lifestyle


Here’s the good news about that New Year’s resolution you’ve made to get fit:

You’re living in a town where it’s cheap to move your body.

We’ve got affordable gyms, cheap bowling, a fair amount of sporting goods stores, soccer and intramural leagues and a continuously growing tail system for use by anyone almost any time. There are plenty of things to do on a budget.

That’s according to a new survey from WalletHub ranking the best and worst cities for an active lifestyle, which pegged Fort Wayne as 15th out of 100 when it comes to “budget and participation” factors such as fitness club fees and intramural leagues.

But the same survey ranked us low when it comes to sports facilities and outdoor environment — pegging the city at No. 69 when it comes to swimming pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, biking trails and a host of other venues per capita.

That dropped Fort Wayne to No. 53 in the overall WalletHub rankings.

Which, really, is a little hard to believe. Especially when you consider our nearly 100 miles of bike trails, everything our parks offer and our YMCAs

“I’ve been doing this for a little over two years, and the local resources have just blossomed, said Ted Sobol, a consultant for the city who heads up Operation Fight for a Fitter Fort, dubbed Operation F4, which is endorsed by the Mayor Tom Henry Administration and designed to encourage citizens to make healthier choices while developing healthier habits.

“We have more paved bike trails than Denver, Colorado,” Sobol said.

But this is not to quibble with an online survey or compare our bike trails to the Denver — which ranked 16th in the WalletHub study.

It’s to show that if you want to be healthier, if you want to make healthier decisions and if you really get in shape or even just be more active this year, if you want to follow through on that resolution, everything you need is available to do just that.

“Resources are no excuse,” Sobol said.

A big reason New Year’s resolutions surrounding our health fail is because we tend to make them at a time just after that special day in November where the average American consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat.

Thanksgiving then bleeds into Christmas, where we’re shoving cookies and candy and fruitcake and more heavy meals into our mouths — so it’s no wonder we make these proclamations that we’ll go to the gym or run an ungodly amount of miles in the coming year.

Only for many of us, those goals are not realistic.

“I always advise people to start small,” Sobol said. “Pick something you know you can do. It can be as simple as drinking more water every day. I think it’s great if you want to run races and go to the gym every day, but that’s beyond a lot of us.”

Developing a healthy plan and finding someone to do it with also helps you keep up with those resolutions, Sobol said. If you’ve got a workout buddy, you’re less likely to cancel planned activities on those cold Tuesday winter nights after a day at the office.

Even something simple as a balance board for the office can offer an excellent core workout — all without the need for a shower, Sobol said. 

Plus, though it might go against conventional thinking, making a plan to get more fit and lose weight without a self-limiting goal as far as pounds might be a more positive approach.That’s more likely to develop healthier habits which will continue long after any given amount of weight is shed.

“If you decide to lose 20 pounds, so what? What’s after that?” Sobol said. “What’s the lifestyle change that goes along with it?”

And while it is cold outside, there are plenty of opportunities to get moving.

There are yoga classes galore that are cheap. There are events at our community centers all the time. Even for entire families. Heck, you can go walk around Glenbrook Square to just to get the blood flowing. The cold can be beat — even here in Indiana.

“There are a lot of little ways people can begin,” Sobol said.

You can even create an account at The Operation F4 website, which provides a blog and tips, to track your workouts. There are also apps aplenty on your smart phone that allow you to track your steps walking or your miles running.

You don’t have to start out big.

“It doesn’t have to be heroic,” Sobol said. “You don’t have to train for Fort4Fitness. It’s great if you do, but if you follow modest steps, you’re less likely to fail.”

So if you rang in the New Year with goals to finally get fit, Fort Wayne is a great place to do it.

Just be smart, maybe get up and move a little more and get determined.

And don’t worry. Allow yourself a cheat day here and there.

“If you don’t do that, it doesn’t feel real,” Sobol said. “It’s no fun.” 


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