Former minor-league baseball player Bobby Demuro, 24, of Cornelius has a passion for teaching people how simple it can be to make long-lasting improvements to their health.
DeMuro, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of the mobile fitness firm FusionSouth in Charlotte, is reaching out to the community through his nonprofit organization, NoFizzCLT.
DeMuro started NoFizzCLT in April as a social media challenge via Twitter to help a health-conscious friend stop drinking soda for 30 days.
"I put it on Twitter and I went to run with my boxer. Forty-five minutes later I came back and 150 people had tweeted us back," said DeMuro. "We ended up getting about 350 people involved. It hit me to turn it into a nonprofit to teach kids ways to hydrate properly, basic nutrition and fitness."
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DeMuro still runs 30-Day No Soda Challenges for adults, beginning the first of each month, to help people avoid soda and sugary drinks and drink 60 ounces of water each day. Proper hydration helps weight management and improves concentration, said DeMuro.
Approximately 5,600 individuals have participated in the monthly challenges since April. DeMuro is encouraging mayors in the Carolinas to accept the challenge for the month of January.
"Make little, simple changes, and those become habits," said DeMuro.
DeMuro has grown NoFizzCLT into a nonprofit organization to educate students about healthy living in school and afterschool programs.
Each Thursday throughout the school year, DeMuro teaches children about proper hydration, nutrition and fitness as part of the Athletes Club with the Ada Jenkins Center's LEARNWorks After-School Program in Davidson. In addition to classroom instruction, DeMuro helps children exercise through calisthenics and playing sports like basketball.
"It's intrinsic in their brains now that being active is fun. We play a new sport every week," said DeMuro. "Some of the sports, they haven't really known how to play and we've had to teach them, but they're always open to doing it.
"It's habits. They're learning that it's not (only) a responsibility to be active, but, 'Hey, it's fun and I like doing it, so I'm going to make time to do it and I'm going to choose to be in this club.'"
Demuro also is working with Community School of Davidson to teach eighth-graders a science-based wellness curriculum and will help students assist in teaching younger students.
"A big thing for us is seeing the positive and encouraging the positive, and rewarding positive habits rather than punishing bad habits. It's encouraging people to empower themselves to be healthy, drink water and then take the next step of health, whether that means eating more vegetables or taking a walk or whatever it is," said DeMuro. "We really want to look at the positive and empower people to do something good."