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Project Fit Families hosts first event in Harmony

Fri, Jun 24th, 2011
Posted in Health & Wellness

Last August, Melinda Lutes of Harmony started a non-profit organization called Project Fit Families. Since then, they have been working to get families in the area spending more time together, eating better, and keeping physically active.

"It was something the kids and I wanted to do together," said Lutes. "The kids have always been active in sports. They thought it would be fun to have a day of events and activities for families, so that's what we did."

Lutes is a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer, as well as a nutritionist. She has been working with people in the area for a long time with exercise and nutrition, and it has become a passion for her. The mission of the organization is to help families stay active and eat right, and to have fun doing it.

The first event sponsored by Project Fit Families was held in Harmony on June 18. According to Lutes, the idea started with having a 5K walk/run, but it grew into so much more. "We thought we should invite people who share the same passion, to keep kids fit and healthy."

Selvig Park was host to several events and activities that day. A martial artist was there, along with a marathon runner. There were booths for gardening, representatives from Just for Kix dancing studio, inflatable bouncy houses for the kids, and a "boot camp" for exercising. Harmony Foods had nutrition demonstrations, and local restaurants served special foods just for that day. The Rochester Giants came down to play football, and there were potato sack races and snowshoe races. Lutes said they planned the event for about six months, reaching out to more people who are on board with the mission, and slowly but surely, it all came together.

"We wish there would have been more people there," said Lutes. "But the people who came had a great time. They were very inspired, and we got a lot of positive feedback. We just need to keep reaching out and spreading the message."'

Lutes stressed the importance of keeping active, not just by playing sports, but doing things such as going for walks with the kids, playing with them, parking farther away from the store, and taking the stairs instead of an elevator.

"Health and fitness isn't just about sports," said Lutes. "It can be just taking the family out on an exploratory walk, or even gardening. It's about being active, doing exercises, and having fun. It's about having active quality time with your family. That's what our mission is all about."

Enriching the family as a whole is a big part of what Project Fit Families is all about. According to Lutes, they are trying to promote trying new activities, learning about new things, and incorporating that into daily life.

During the 5K walk/run that day, Lutes said there were more little kids than adults. "It was good to see," she said. "It was probably their first experience with something like that." She added that introducing them to physical activity when they are young could help ensure they enjoy it as they grow older. Each child received a ribbon to help them feel good about what they accomplished.

"It's all about encouraging and supporting people," said Lutes. She would like to see these events become not just a one-time thing, but a lifetime commitment for people.

Project Fit Families would like to grow in its own backyard before moving on to other communities. Lutes feels it is important these events benefit the community as well, and bring people to Harmony. Right now, they would like to focus on Fillmore County, and they are hoping to go into more communities next year.

For the future, Project Fit Families is planning on helping local towns celebrate the 25th anniversary of the bike trail with events going on in September. There will be bike-rides, dancing, a Minute to Win It event, and more fun activities for children and adults alike. Lutes shared the short-term goal is to put Fillmore County on the map for being the healthiest county in Minnesota. She knows there is a lot of work to do, but is optimistic it will continue to grow.

"We will make it work," said Lutes. "We have learned a lot from the first year and we are going to keep improving it and trying to reach out.

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