Get fit this fall with Northwest Park and Rec's programs and events

Published on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 by Steve Guntli

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Let’s face it – it’s pretty easy to get lazy in the fall. It’s cold and rainy, the kids are wrapped up with their schoolwork, TV shows have come out of their summer reruns and every major holiday revolves around eating. But staying active is just as important this time of year as any other, if not more so. 

People tend to gain the most weight between the months of October and January, according to a study by the Nutrition Review. Luckily, people of all ages can shake the autumn doldrums with one of several indoor activities hosted by the Northwest Park and Recreation District 2.

The Birch Bay Activity Center, located at 7511 Gemini Street, plays host to several activities that encourage year-round fitness. All the activities are designed for people of all ages to participate, and a large portion of the participants are senior citizens.

“Some of the guys playing pickleball are in their 80s,” said Heidi Holmes, office manager for the park and recreation district. 
“Some of the ladies doing Zumba are in their 80s as well. They have a lot of fun.” 

Pickleball, a racquet sport similar to tennis, has become one of the activity center’s most popular sports. Played with shortened paddles and whiffle balls, players compete in a small court, similar to a badminton court. It’s a less strenuous sport than tennis or badminton, making it a popular choice for local seniors.

Pickleball games are held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The popularity of pickleball has prompted a new evening game in the fall, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Monday night, Holmes said. 

If badminton is more your speed, the popular racquet sport is open to all ages every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Zumba is another hugely popular offering at the activity center, inviting folks to come and dance their cares away. The dance aerobics class, led by instructor Brenda Gelwicks, currently offers courses Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. Holmes said a Tuesday evening class will be added this fall from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. 

“A lot of people had expressed interest in the class, but because of the scheduling they couldn’t attend,” Holmes said. “Hopefully now we’ll see a few more visitors.” 

The class offers a low impact, highly aerobic approach to fitness and gets people moving to upbeat, modern tunes. Ladies looking for something a little more exotic can try out an Egyptian belly dancing class, starting with a free introductory course Saturday, September 21 at 11 a.m. Ban Al-Kaisi, a dancer with more than 10 years experience in the art, will help to “bring out the diva in your life,” according to the park and recreation district’s website. 

Al-Kaisi was certified by acclaimed instructor Jihan Jamal, who teaches Egyptian and Middle Eastern dances. 

The belly dancing course is designed to help women get in touch with their femininity and develop confidence in their minds and flexibility in their bodies. After the free introductory course, a $3 drop-in charge will be required to participate.

The park and recreation office is also promoting weight loss with their annual Biggest Loser contest, which will start again this coming January. Participants work in teams to see who can lose the most weight, and the winners will split a cash prize. Last year’s winning team walked off with more than $300, pooled from entry fees. 

Last year 52 people competed in the contest and the results were impressive – one woman from the winning team lost upwards of 20 pounds, Holmes said. 

An organized walking group will continue to take walking tours around Blaine and Birch Bay well into the rainy season. Holmes says the group usually doesn’t halt their walks until mid to late November. As an alternative, though, an indoor walking and conditioning class will kick off on Tuesday, October 22. 

The course was started in winter 2012, and is designed as a circuit strength-training course. Participants each spend one minute at one of the strength training sessions set up around the gym, with walking intervals between stations. 

Every Tuesday through October 8, instructor Maureen Kelly will teach Chakra Yoga, a practice designed to “explore and bring balance to seven main energy fields in the body,” according to the park and recreation district’s website. Classes are $59 for the entire session or $10 for drop-ins.  

For more information on prices and upcoming events, visit