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David Freeze: Brooke and Vivian experience a positive start

The first month of their program is in the books

Brooke Taylor running after work on February 1st. Submitted photo.

Brooke Taylor running after work on February 1st. Submitted photo.

The first month of their program is in the books. Brooke Taylor and Vivian Koontz gained some ground right off the bat with a few unique twists to their wellness journey. The Salisbury Post, Novant Health and Rowan YMCA’s have participated so far and we will add more community partners throughout the year.

Brooke Taylor, circulation manager for the Rowan County Public Library, had decided she wanted to be active since she just turned 40 years of age. Vivian Koontz, a former athlete good enough to play on boys’ baseball teams, had stopped exercising and wanted to get going again for the first time since college. She is the community events person for Salisbury Parks and Recreation. Both are similar in weight and age and have already developed a certain ease with their partnership as the sweat has begun to roll.

Even though she had completed a 5K last December, Brooke decided she was ready to get more serious about her health. Concern with weight, blood pressure and blood sugar prompted her involvement in the first intense wellness program of her life. Vivian wants to get back in shape after three children, some poor diet choices and not much physical activity.

So, what did we do during January? Both Brooke and Vivian had risk assessments done by Novant Health Wellness Nurse Valerie Velte. This serves to provide a genuine starting point as well as some focus areas. Next came a visit with Novant Health Registered Dietician Michelle Henrickson, an expert in the proper diet for those who want to combine regular exercise with proper food choices. Vivian and Brooke heard that many of the popular diets don’t provide energy for regular exercise. Both had good questions specific to their own issues. They will both hear a more complete nutritional presentation from Michelle in February.

Ester Marsh from the JF Hurley YMCA has measured their inches and body fat percentage at the start of the program and will monitor them quarterly for improvement. Many of their workouts are done at the Y and both will see Ester and her staff regularly. Brooke took a healthy grocery store tour with Katrina Weavil, another Novant dietician, and got a better understanding of proper choices. Vivian missed it due to her own sickness that came home with one of her kids. Sweet tea, soft drinks and cupcakes are getting left behind, sometimes reluctantly replaced by salads. We often discussed the old adage, “Every calorie counts!” Both are beginning to experiment with tracking inbound and outbound calories by way of www.myfitnesspal.com

I used some “get it going” activities to get Brooke and Vivian started. While Vivian was recovering, we spent our workout together days (usually Tuesday and Fridays) doing various circuits at the Y. Most of their workouts have been intended to build cardiovascular fitness. Typical early workouts have included step-ups while pumping small weights or lifting a kettle bell, spinning on an exercise bike and running on the upstairs track. Segments of three minutes each totaling 45 minutes have been the norm so far.

As the heart rates rise, I get lots of comical comments. Brooke who already is parking at the far end of the YMCA lot to get more steps, has the early lead with her quips. When I tell them to stop with one segment and move on to the next, Brooke says, “Wow, that was fast!” or “This is my favorite workout, totally!” Vivian isn’t far behind with “Already?”, while both of them are sweating and heading on to the next segment. Heart rates are going up daily during exercise and results are coming.

Both women are competitive and Brooke mentioned a certain undertone of the always present city/county employee rivalry. Of course, I will feed this flame as we go forward. Brooke and Vivian are becoming fast friends and are sharing their experiences when working out separately. If positive attitudes will get it done and they often do, I think we are in good shape.

At the end of January, Brooke had lost 9.6 pounds while Vivian lost 4.2. Brooke said, “Hard work in the gym pays off. I don’t like those hateful step-ups but I do like the rowing machine and running.” Vivian added, “I don’t like the step-ups either, but I am pretty much open to anything as long as we mix up the exercises. Can we take batting practice?”

A good month! See you at the first of March.


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