The YWCA of Central Carolinas has a lot of ways to help people get physically fit. Cardio and chair aerobic classes, and the facility’s swimming pool and tennis courts are all components of a comprehensive fitness program that is open to members.Until three months ago, something the YWCA didn’t have was the most basic of fitness initiatives: a running club. As a grass-roots effort to encourage participation, the YWCA Friends, Fitness, and Fun running club has few expectations for its runners. The club is open to everyone regardless of one’s running background, how fast you can keep pace, or whether you are a YWCA member or not.“We very much appreciate feedback from members,” said Julianna Canfield, the YWCA’s director of fitness. “And a few months back several members mentioned the desire for a run club. The run club is a wonderful way to meet new friends and enjoy another outlet for fitness.”The best part about it might be that it is free.Runners meet at the YWCA on Saturday mornings and run a course that usually spans 3-4 miles. Club leader Trinity Cho leads runners on any of the four or five courses that veer away from the heavy traffic of the YWCA’s Park Road location. The runs mainly meander through the nearby running-friendly areas of Freedom Park and the Little Sugar Creek Greenway. Cho directs runners through as many side streets as possible to avoid automobile traffic. “I really look out for the safety of the runners,” Cho said. “It’s all beautiful and safe.” Cho says the best thing about Friends, Fitness, and Fun is that runners are not required to maintain a certain pace. If a runner has to slow down to a walk to rest and regain strength, the other runners slow down too. So far, the group is struggling to maintain a consistent membership on a weekly basis. As many as five people have participated but faces have changed from week-to-week.Cho is trying to tailor logistics to fit the interests of those running including tinkering with the weekly start time. For example, she set the meeting time for 7 a.m. thinking that people would prefer an early start to avoid the summer heat. But she’s considering pushing it back an hour to appeal to those people who prefer an extra hour of sleep on the weekends. Regardless of the start time, Cho has a loyal advocate in Bob Schade, a YWCA regular who joined the running club to complement his other fitness routines. A 60-year-old Madison Park resident, Schade started taking his health much more seriously two years ago after having heart surgery. He joined the YWCA two years ago. Schade has participated in spin classes, yoga sessions, Pilates workouts and pop-up cardio classes. Last fall, Schade attended a four-week, chi-running class in which he learned that taking shorter strides per minute would reduce the possibility of shin splints and other running-related injuries. Schade normally slows down his running routine in the summer because of the warm temperatures. He found the YWCA running club to be a nice supplement.“I normally run by myself, so it’s nice to have company while your running,” Schade said. Schade is an experienced 5-kilometer race runner. Cho has competed in marathons and is training for this year’s New York marathon. While keeping the running club’s all-inclusive mission, Cho hopes that some people will use it as a vehicle towards establishing goals such as running in short road races.“We’re trying to get the base layer, some core runners to build it up,” she said. “Then we can start focusing on goals.”
Friday, Aug. 09, 2013
Charlotte run club seeks members
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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