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Decatur Public Library partners with fitness centers to provide free exercises classes

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DECATUR - Area residents visiting the Decatur Public Library for health and fitness information this winter will also have the opportunity to try out various exercise styles. The library has joined with the Decatur Indoor Sports Center and Decatur Family YMCA to provide a series of free trial exercise classes and demonstrations this month.

The classes will focus on a range of different workout types to help area residents of all ages and skill levels get started on their New Year's resolutions, said Amanda Standerfer, head of the library's adult division.

"I know a lot of New Year's resolutions are around exercising and getting fit," she said.

Standerfer said she hopes the fitness offerings, which will include tai chi, karate and Zumba and recently included a Pilates class, will offer something new to existing library patrons and also attract some new visitors.

Some people might feel more comfortable trying out an exercise class at the library than they would feel walking into a gym or fitness center for the first time, she said.

Standerfer said the library is a unique place to hold exercise classes because people can also access a wealth of information and resources about various health topics. She recently set up a display with DVDs and books on exercise topics.

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"The library is about information and sharing information," she said.

The fitness events were scheduled to coincide with membership events and the formation of new classes at both fitness facilities.

Denise Leonard, aquatics and wellness director at the Decatur Family YMCA, said the request from the library fit in with the Y's work to expand its role and presence in the community.

"We're not just within the four walls of the facility," she said. "We do a lot of public speaking, community outreach."

Leonard selected karate and Zumba as the two classes to feature because they represent two popular programs at the Y that appeal to a fairly wide age range. The karate demonstration and lecture will be conducted by instructor Kevin Hughes to familiarize area residents with the Y's fairly new martial arts program, which features a handful of different martial arts styles.

"A lot of people still don't know that we have it," said Leonard.

Zumba, a Latin dance-inspired fitness program, also is very popular in local fitness centers. The YMCA currently offers four daytime and three evening classes and is looking to add additional sections.

"We have something for everybody here," Leonard said, adding that the facility works to help people of all economic backgrounds access its programs and fitness offerings.

Judy Lippard, a Pilates instructor at the DISC, recently conducted her free trial class at the library. She has been teaching the exercise method, which focuses on flexibility and core strength, for about seven years.

"I like it, and I have a really good core group of people who have been doing it with me almost the whole time," she said.

Lippard's demo class attracted a small group, which went through about 45 minutes of total-body exercise on yoga mats, using exercise balls to supplement some of the moves.

"Anybody can do it because you can modify it to your ability," Lippard said.

She demonstrated a move for the group, looking a bit like Atlas as she hoisted her lime-green exercise ball up and off her shoulders.

Lippard said bringing the exercise demonstrations and trials to the community is important, as it helps reach more people with a message of wellness.

"It's important to get people off the couch," she said.

Samantha Blankenship, one of the DISC's fitness center supervisors, said she was involved in choosing the facility's classes that would be offered through the library. The goal was to appeal to new exercisers and people looking to add some variety into their workouts.

"They're basics, and they get you kind of introduced to exercise," Blankenship said of the Pilates and tai chi offerings.

The upcoming tai chi session would be appropriate for people of all ages looking to improve coordination, flexibility and balance, she said.

Blankenship said the library's sampling of fitness classes is a good way to help people understand what group fitness is all about and to help them experience the DISC staff's passion for encouraging people to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

"It was really just a surprise for me for them to ask if we had any classes that we could offer," she said.

The library also offers free health screenings and monthly lectures through a partnership with St. Mary's Hospital.

If the exercise classes are successful, Standerfer said, organizers will look at offering similar programs in the future.

"We would love to offer it again," she said.|421-6968


WHAT: Free exercise classes and demonstrations

WHEN: Try Karate! - 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9; Try Zumba! - 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10; Try Tai Chi! - 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17

WHERE: Decatur Public Library's Madden Auditorium



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