By Ed Watkins, Senior staff writer
Fit Minded is not your average book club.
What started as an idea while exercising has evolved into a fully developed program with over 250 participants, including people from California and Ontario, Canada.
Fit Minded was created by Dr. Jennifer Huberty, an associate professor in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department at UNO. As opposed to a strictly physical approach, Fit Minded is based largely on theory and behavioral change.
“The way the program is structured is as a lifestyle program,” said Diane Sylofski, a health promotion facilitator at Fit Minded. “Behavior change in general is a mental and emotional process and so if we’re not targeting those things, how can we expect women to sustain this change over time?”
The problem with other fitness programs, Sylofski said, is that at the conclusion of the program, participants are often left wondering where to go.
Fit Minded was designed to address that problem.
In the first half of the program, members meet weekly at the UNO Alumni Center, or by logging-on to the recently added website component. The hour-long meetings usually begin with a general discussion of the previous week’s events before moving on to the next book and its theme. By the second half, the meetings become monthly as members branch out on their own.
“Our program is also structured so that when women finish the program, they don’t need to rely on us anymore,” Sylofski said. “They don’t need to rely on anyone else. They’re self-sufficient. They’re independent. They’re able to move forward, to continue being active on their own.”
The books survey a broad range of topics and genres including self-help and memoirs. At times they can be humorous, while others are brutally honest about the dangers of being overweight.
“I think it gives people a reality check,” Sylofski said. “Some of the books have been upfront, in your face and those books have been most the popular.”
Though the course is largely structured with reading in mind, there is a physical component too with occasional weekend activities.
“There’s been a lot of research that’s shown that physical activity has a positive impact on a woman’s self-worth,” Sylofski said. “Especially their physical self-worth.”