Kingston, Ontario–from the Whig Standard Aug. 30, 2016–by Michael Lea
If you have ever had an urge to release the inner cheerleader inside of you, or have always thought you could be a champion fencer or world-class kickboxer, then September is the month you get to turn into Walter Mitty and give them all a try.
Twice a year, in April and September, Canadian Sport for Life Kingston brings together organizations around the city for Kingston Gets Active (KGA) month, a chance to showcase the myriad of activities for healthy, active living that are available here.
This September there will be no less than 151 activities — all of them free — that organizers hope people will try out and, who knows, maybe stick with for years to come.
“When we initially started it with KGA, it was a two-week program and it was so popular and there were so many different groups that wanted to participate, we found that we could fill a whole month with it,” said Lynda Breen, supervisor of recreation programs for the city.
The popularity didn’t diminish over the years.
“We have never had any trouble filling the calendar.”
The list of sites taking part is a long one: Artillery Park Aquatic Centre, the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston on Bath Road, DreamCatcher Farms in Inverary, the Invista Centre, the Kingston Elite All-Star Cheerleading at 785 Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd., the Kingston Fencing Club at 362 Division St., the Kingston Gymnastics Club on Midland Avenue, the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre, the Kingston Striders Speed Skating Club at the Cataraqui Community Centre, the Ontario Early Years Centres on Patrick Street and Holy Name School, the Queen’s University Athletics and Recreation Centre, the Royal Kingston Curling Club on Days Road, and the YMCA of Kingston’s three locations.
Activities available at the sites include: swimming, horse riding lessons, kickboxing, cheerleading, fencing, fitness exercises, yoga, speedskating and curling. For most programs, people can just drop in and try them out but some require advance notice.
To help people get around to the different sites more easily, a limited number of free Kingston Transit passes will be available at the Artillery Park Aquatic Centre.
Breen explained the idea behind the month is two-fold: to try to get people out and be more active but also to “try something new that you may not have tried before that you may like to continue on with.”
The organizations involved are all hoping to attract new participants that decide they like the activity and want to stay for the long term, signing up for classes.
“That would be the end goal.”
Breen said the city gets feedback from the various organizations on how things went during the month.
“What we hear is that it does bring people through the door. We do hear that the organizations that are participating are pleased that more people are coming through their door and trying something.”
The city-run events also do well, Breen said.
“We are pleased. We always see new faces. That’s the key.”
Much of the emphasis on physical fitness these days may be directed towards children but adults need to stay fit as well, she stressed. Sometimes they need motivation.
That’s why the Kingston Gets Active initiative is held twice a year.
“People need to be reminded to get active.”
When September comes around, all the summer activities end. So KGA gives them some options for the fall and winter.
“People are looking for things that, when the weather starts getting cooler, they can do indoors.”
And in April, they can plan activities for the spring and summer.
All the promotions about healthy living seem to be having results, she said.
“I think people are catching on to that messaging.”
Parents sending their kids to camps want to know what kind of physical activities they will be doing. If there is food involved, they want to make sure it is healthy.
“I think people are more knowledgable about healthy eating and about physical activity. And they are learning more about the negative impacts of not being healthy.”
Also important is mixing up the activities, she continued.
“Not just one type of physical activity but a variety of different types of activity. Not just hockey but maybe incorporate soccer or lacrosse where you are using different muscles and developing your whole body as opposed to just certain muscle groups.”
They are finding in the Artillery Park and Invista fitness centres that more people are coming in who have not exercised before, she said.
They are also getting more people who may have a disability and want to incorporate strength and cardio training in a gym environment.
“We didn’t have a whole lot before but more people are feeling comfortable because there is more inclusive equipment out there.”
That may include ramps at pools that can accommodate wheelchairs.
“We are making it more accessible for people to get involved in activities.”
A full list of Kingston Gets Active activities, including appropriate ages, dates, times and program descriptions, is available at: www.KingstonGetsActive.ca.