Free fitness center changes lives

By Crystal Britt - bio | email

NEW MADRID, MO (KFVS) - You wouldn't believe how many people are losing weight, and how many kids are learning how to eat better in New Madrid.

Part of the secret: free gym memberships. Sounds good right?
In New Madrid, some folks got together with a vision.
With some help from the Missouri Foundation for Health, five area churches, the health department and others--they've opened a free fitness center and started a number of programs to help fight obesity.
The New Madrid Fitness Center is the place to be.  It's for kids, and adults.
They have a little bit of everything...from boxing, to weight training, to lessons on healthy eating.
"Our goal is to increase their fruit and vegetable intake and physical activity," said Sandy Campbell from the New Madrid County Health Department.
"This has been a great success story for this entire community," said Ted Maltbia. 
Maltbia's one of many who dreamed of a place like this.
The vision began in 2006, and just this past January the City of New Madrid donated a building for the center.
The equipment is new, and police officers, pastors, coaches, and people of all walks of life are enjoying the free center.
"In a low income area like we have, people can't afford to get the proper exercise they need," said Maltbia. 
"I was a size 14 when I started coming here.  I'm a size 10 now," said Alice Bashley of Howardville. 
Bashley is a regular now. 
"When you exercise you feel better," said Bashley.
"I'm diabetic, I've been working with the program and it helped me to lose 20 pounds," said Robert Hamilton. 
They're teaching people to eat healthier, starting with the youngest kids.
"More and more kids are overweight earlier and earlier," said Sandy Campbell. 
Ten-year-old Aneshia Smith says, "It's fun."
And, fun is what they're going for.
Volunteers use dance to spice up workouts for the younger kids.
"We always do fun stuff," said 11-year-old Karry Williams.
"The whole community's excited about the equipment, the building the workouts, we can't say enough about it," said Maltbia.
They're also involved in some area schools, teaching nutrition there.
Plus, they've got walking trails constructed and have more ideas in the works.

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