Community Wellness Series encourages fitness during pandemic

You can be fit during the pandemic, even with gyms closed.

That was the message from Warrior Park Athletics, a new state-of-the-art gym facility on Cayuga Road founded by fitness enthusiast Mike Hill, during last weekend’s Community Wellness Series held via Zoom.

“I hope this encourages people who are on the fence about fitness,” said Hill. “I get it. We’re in a pandemic. Undertaking (fitness), trying to balance a job and family – it gets hard. Fitness is a journey. Be kind to yourself.”

The Wellness Series, organized by Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council Health Services staff, has brought community members together every other Saturday online with healthy messages and topics for the mind and body.

“It’s been an epic journey,” said Erin, who expressed a bit of sadness that the next session will be the last in the series. “When we first started the wellness series we didn’t think it would take off how it has. I just want to thank everybody in the community. I’m kinda sad that it’s close to being over.”

Hill and his colleagues demonstrated various bodyweight exercises people can do at home during the pandemic, after first taking viewers on a tour of the beautiful facility on Cayuga Road.

“I know that this pandemic has challenged us in a lot of ways,” he said. “We want to encourage (you) and if new to fitness, ignite you on your path.”

Being fit is not just about looks.

“Fitness 100 percent is medicine,” said Hill. “It’s the ability to take a stressful day and totally flip it around. It’s one of the most positive outlets I’ve had and it keeps me grounded.”

Viewers were asked to post videos of themselves post-workout to the Warrior Parks Athletics Facebook page by May 7 for a chance to win some great fitness prizes from Hamilton Fitness Solutions.

Hill recently honoured his late uncle, millionare Ken Hill, with his first and middle initial – KR – emblazoned at the entrance of the facility.

“My uncle taught me a lot of things over the years,” he said. “He was a man who cared a lot about his community and he did a lot for it, often behind the scenes. I am forever indebted to him and absolutely love that he’s memorialized here.”

The over 7,000 square foot modern building features a gym, areas for obstacle courses, an interactive kids’ playground, lighting effects, a boardroom, state-of-the-art kitchen, and second-story seating area to watch presentations on a large screen projector.

The kitchen will serve as a space to teach clients about healthy meal preparation, cooking and nutrition, among many other plans when they’re able to re-open after pandemic restrictions are lifted.

The facility also plans to reward youth who achieve fitness goals.

“With fitness comes gratification,” said Hill. “Whether that’s an aesthetic change or through an athletic measure. When it comes to incentive-based training at Warrior Park, we want to reward effort but also want to show kids that effort and outcome runs parallel with the real world.”

Hill, his partner Taylor, and Head Coach Mike Mazurek took participants through various bodyweight exercises people can do at home while gyms are closed.

Hill and Taylor started off showing how to perform burpees – often referred to as one of the most effective full-body exercises out there. One variation of the burpee is to jump up with both hands in the air, bend the knees, place both hands on the ground and kick the feet back in a push-up position, perform the push-up, and bring the knees back up and stand up again, repeating the full motion as often as one is able.

“That’s a full body workout,” said Mazurek.

He spoke briefly about nutrition, saying both exercise and nutrition go hand in hand. Mazurek provided some quick tips on choosing healthful sources of protein, carbs and fat. He told viewers not to fear carbs and said bananas, buckwheat and sweet potatoes are great sources of carbs, which are necessary for fueling the body with energy during workouts. Fats are also necessary for things like brain development and he encouraged people to choose healthy fats from sources like fish, nuts and seeds.

When it comes to exercise, Mazurek encouraged people to record their progress and check back later.

He remembers running his first marathon where he just wanted to finish. He recorded his time and improved his running times over subsequent marathons, again, not competing against other runners, but himself.

“It was me versus me. I’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Mazurek suggested walking or running on a nearby trail or track as the weather turns nicer.

Hill said he hoped the session encouraged people to embark on a fitness journey and he can’t wait to open the doors of Warrior Park Athletics again.

“I’m really excited for when this place can open its doors.”

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