Little pockets of innovation around the country give us at ACE hope that, someday, more than only one in three adults will have the recommended amount of physical activity each week. One such pocket of innovation is a couple hours up Interstate 5 from ACE’s San Diego headquarters. It’s 3 WINS Fitness, a very unique partnership among academia, local municipalities, nonprofits and business. They are truly succeeding in getting traditionally deconditioned populations to exercise more by making it fun and making it about community.
The concept behind 3 WINS Fitness is elegantly simple. Students studying kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, which is within Los Angeles’ urban core, volunteer to lead free, fitness classes every morning in parks throughout the surrounding area. Everyone is welcome, and participants may choose from four different classes designed to meet people where they are in their own current physical-activity level. The classes attract community members who live near the public parks where the classes are held. Most 3 WINS Fitness participants are Latino, female, between 36-64 years old, have a high school diploma or less, and earn less than $50,000 annually.
Last year, a number of ACE staff drove up to LA to participate in one of the 3 WINS Fitness’ community physical-activity classes. One of the photos is included above. What we observed was community members engaged deeply in physical activity, and comfortable while doing so. Participants repeatedly shared that they now see themselves differently; no longer intimidated by gym equipment and fitness classes, they now view themselves as active individuals who exercise. We were inspired.
At ACE, we recognize that the first step in behavior change may be and often is a mental shift before the physical one. For this reason, programs like 3 WINS Fitness, where individuals can engage and thrive based on their comfort level and on their community turf, make all the difference.