Source: North Jersey.com
Some people recover from the Thanksgiving holiday by taking it easy, but not so for the 20 men and women who gathered at the Masonic Temple in Paterson on Saturday morning.
The group plowed through squats, bicycle crunches, suicide sprints and jumping jacks in an hourlong “boot camp” led by fitness trainer Shaquan Powell. With his booming voice, Powell kept them going with cheers and motivational phrases.
“Let’s see ten more,” Powell shouted, to keep them going. For Powell and his group, fitness is a commitment they’ve made to themselves, but also one they share as a community.
Powell started the program in 2005, holding boot camps on Saturdays and Sundays at Eastside Park during warmer months as a way to give back to the city where he grew up. Last year, he added an indoor program on Saturdays from November through March. Members are supportive, cheering one another through tough parts of the routines, and many have become friends, getting together for bowling and other activities.
The program was free for a decade and drew crowds to the park; now, Powell charges about $30 a month, or $10 a class, for the indoor classes, to cover rent; or $20 a month, or $5 a class, for outdoor sessions.
Brandy Sharrock-Miller, 31, said she enjoyed mac and cheese, sweet potatoes, and apple pie among other foods, on Thanksgiving. She woke up Saturday feeling like she was dragging, she said, but pushed herself to get to her workout. “I felt like the turkey. But I also felt like I had to come in. It all starts with the first step,” she said.
Powell’s clients include Delores Hunt, 48, who said she has dropped 30 pounds since she started working out a few years ago. “I feel great. I was heavy. I used to get out of breath walking up the stairs,” she said, adding that she does not “go crazy” when it comes to eating on holidays and watches her portion sizes. “In our community,” she added, “we need things like this. Too many people are out of shape.”
More than one out of four, or 27 percent, of all New Jersey adults are obese, according to figures from the state Department of Health. The obesity rate in Paterson, a low-income city, “far exceeds” national and state averages.
The report highlighted other health-related problems, including the city’s lack of grocery stores and people’s over-reliance on fast-food restaurants and convenience stores. The report’s authors also wrote that there aren’t enough recreational opportunities as a result of unsafe neighborhoods and parks.
Powell does not see these factors as excuses and doesn’t give a pass for holidays, either. “It boils down to choice and discipline, because there’s always something that is going to come up. We’re just trying to get people to know about it and to get out and get healthy.”
Powell ended the class with a prayer and slogans: “When there’s pain, there’s progress. If you ain’t moving, you ain’t losing,” he told them.