Local group takes on November fitness challenge

Team commits to at least 30 minutes of daily exercise

Team F.I.T. leader

“Together, everyone accomplishes more.”

That’s one of the mottos of a local group that has taken the T.E.A.M. approach to keeping people active through some of the darkest, wettest days of the year.

Hope’s Team F.I.T. (Families in Training) got its start at C.E. Barry School in 2008, with the main focus being a learn-to-run program, leading to the annual 10K Sun Run in Vancouver.

The school may now be abandoned — but the program has moved its roots into the community and beyond, with a wider focus on year-round activity and fitness.

“We’d like to expand from our 13-week training program, to doing something throughout the year,” said group co-leader, Miranda Cowan on Monday.

“We had lots of people doing the training but not following through to going to the Sun Run,” she said, citing costs and giving up a whole weekend as being the main issues.

“Next year, our main focus will be the Abbotsford Run-for-Water and other runs that are closer. There’s also the Unbridled Mud Run in Chilliwack in the fall — and the Winter Warrior 5K in Chilliwack on Dec. 6.”

Cowan and team member Brenda Deschenes will be leading a group to train for that event, which will entail four days of training per week in perhaps the nastiest of weather. The good news: the time put in there counts toward the current 30-30 challenge.

Anyone who takes part in the 30-30 should forever be able to remember that November has 30 days… because the key part of the challenge is to do at least 30 minutes of activity on every one of those 30 days — and report it daily via Facebook or email to Cowan or Team F.I.T. founder, Pauline Johnson.

Cowan said she heard of the challenge through a Facebook link to a friend in Prince George.

“My friend’s kids were in a cross-country ski club, so she got a challenge going for parents in October. It’s a nice motivator for us in the wet weather, as it forces you to get active.”

There was no cost to join the challenge — but being accountable to the team has its own stimulating factor. Through Facebook “likes” and comments, participants are encouraged to put at least a half hour of walking, swimming, running, yoga or other activity before the day is done. Weekly prizes add to the fun.

Challenge member Kayla Sullivan wrote, after completing an evening walk, “What an amazing experience it has been to feel accountable for 30 minutes of fitness a day, with ongoing encouragement and support from others in our community.”

With Facebook connections forming the backbone of the challenge, the community has grown to include family and friends from the Okanagan, Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Deschenes’ mom, Mavis Byer, lives in Kelowna but rose to the challenge when her daughter invited her.

“As a public health nurse, years ago, I was involved in encouraging people to change their lifestyles and get active,” said Byer, Tuesday. “At that time, I decided to practice what I preach and began a fitness regime.

“After we retired and moved to Kelowna, exercise became a regular part of our lives with a family YMCA membership and walks on the many trails in the area.

“The Hope group of fitness enthusiasts are an inspiration and it is so good to see so many families involved,” said Byer. “Although I will probably never meet many of the 30-30 participants, I enjoy challenging myself to keep up with them and connect through the social media.”

Robyn Mudie and her family were Team F.I.T. members before they moved to Campbell River three years ago. Now, the 30-30 challenge has brought her back, via the internet.

“Since we’ve moved, I’ve kept up with the group Facebook page and saw the idea posted a month ago,” said Mudie. “I am in the middle of the Sun Run learn-to-run training and the kids join me for one of the runs every weekend, otherwise they have PE, Heather skates — and they will both be starting track and field conditioning training this month. I also walk or do weights and core training.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea for everyone as it is the most doable 30-day challenge I have seen.  I’m happy for the opportunity to still be a part of this incredible group.”

Cowan said in the first week of the challenge, the 53 members have been reporting, “Lots of walking, swimming, hockey, running, hiking, planking and yoga, spin and other rec centre classes. Eighteen of those are new Team F.I.T. members.”

If you’ve missed the call for this challenge but would like to learn more about the group, contact Pauline Johnson at 604-206-0721 or Miranda Cowan at 604-869-0686.