Exercise Your Options

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Fitness and Fun Go Hand-in-Hand @ your library
Rebecca Walden

Besides the obvious health benefits, exercise offers a great opportunity to try new experiences, to meet new people and to broaden your perspective. Think yoga’s for sissies? Maybe until you’ve tried it. Not sure what this Zumba craze is about? Lace up your sneakers and get ready to shake your tail-feathers. Only run if someone’s chasing you? Clocking in a decent time at your city’s next community racing event may not be so laughable after all.

And it’s pretty simple to discover your exercise niche – at the library!
Unwind Your Mind
At the Vogelson Regional Branch of the Camden County Library System, Teen Librarian Christen Orbanus recently introduced yoga to the library’s teen patrons. The program launched during midterms, providing participants a much-needed outlet to take a break from their studies and refresh their spirits. “I think the teens who have attended our yoga programs have learned that any and all people and body types can work out and exercise. Yoga is for everyone.”
And once the teens are at the library, Orbanus has noticed their interest pique in other library resources that encourage fitness and fun. “Although the teens probably don’t consider it exercising, we recently purchased Just Dance for our Teen Space. I love putting it on and watching the teens dance, not realizing how hard they are exercising. They also really move when we play Wii Sports Resort. I’m excited about the recent trend in video games that keep you moving and I love that our local teens visit the library and have fun exercising here.”
Shake Your Groove Thing
At Cape May County Library, their initial foray into an exercise program offering received such overwhelming support that the Library now offers fitness classes five days a week. From Qigong and Tai Chi to Zumba, Pilates, Low Impact Cardio and Aerobics, patrons are enjoying a wide variety of classes, led by professionally-trained instructors.
Adult Program Coordinator Karen Johnson notes that the program has already had a pretty powerful ripple effect. “Many of our classes are held up in the reference area of the library on Thursday evenings, giving additional advertising to patrons who did not know we had programs. When they see these classes going on, it gives staff the opportunity to talk about them and give out a calendar telling about all of our programs.”
Surprise Yourself!
If your good intentions tend to wither in the absence of accountability, the library can help you plug into a group to help you realize your fitness goals. At Madison County Public, Adult Programmer Christina Cornelison found that several of her patrons jumped at the chance to sign up for “Couch to 5K” training through the Library.
“’Couch to 5K’ fosters a team mentality. We ran as a group, we trained as a group, and we kept each other accountable.” She adds that several of the “Couch to 5K” participants discovered through the program just how much the library can offer them on an individual level.
“Two of our runners were regular library users, but only in the sense that they brought their children to programs.  I think that the sheer commitment to “Couch to 5K,” a 9-week program, forced them to come into the library and explore on their own. One runner invited several of her friends to get involved in “Couch to 5K.” Some of these folks had never set foot in the library. Not only did they all end up with library cards, they also gained an immediate understanding that the library has so many services to offer, and many that extend off the bookshelves and outside the doors.”

The program’s appeal was the right answer at the right time for several participants, each of whom joined the group for very different and very personal reasons. For one participant, “Couch to 5K” helped her commit to a realistic exercise program one year after she’d undergone gastric bypass surgery. “’Couch to 5K’ was the first real exercise program in which she was able to participate,” says Cornelison. “She signed up because she wanted to exercise in an unintimidating environment, as well as meet new people. She already enjoyed the more conventional library services, so adding exercise to these existing services seemed like a natural progression.”

“Another runner also signed up to get in shape and lose weight, but she also did it to get closer to her husband, a cross country runner at the local university.  He was so supportive of her running ventures; a native of Kenya, he ordered her a shirt to wear at our 5k race that exclaimed ‘In my dreams, I am Kenyan’.”

So now you know, and you can get moving – to the library!

Yoga meltdown. / Levels 1 & 2 workouts by Andrea Amandbandos, Jillian Michaels
Tai chi for beginners by Samuel Barnes, Andrea Ambandos
Yoga : your home practice companion by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
5K and 10K training by Brian Clarke

Photo credit:  myyogaonline

Rebecca Waldenrrebecca walden

Rebecca Walden is a Birmingham, Ala.-based freelance writer. She has more than a decade of experience in information services, during which time she has worked with all types of libraries throughout the United States.

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