Looking for ways to get fit and explore your local parks this spring? Kelsey Young is here to help. This April, she will lead the Great Escape Fitness Outdoor Hiking and Fitness Club in its second annual season of weekly hiking gatherings.
With a background in personal training and group fitness, Young founded Great Escape Fitness in 2015 to “create a community of positive, like-minded people that will support and motivate each other to live a healthier lifestyle.”
Beyond the outdoor fitness classes and personal training Young was already providing through Great Escape, she began the hiking club as a casual way for people of all ages and abilities to connect with their community.
Currently a graduate student in public health at Grand Valley State University, Young used research on ‘blue zones’ – cultures with the longest living people on earth – to inform the club.
“I want to bring their lifestyle to Grand Rapids and focus on community, moving naturally, and healthy eating,” said Young. “Hiking provides a functional outdoor activity suitable for any age and any body type.”
Half of the hikes explore local preserves or hiking trails in the Grand Rapids area, while the other half are walking/fitness tours of Uptown and East Hills neighborhoods that introduce participants to local businesses. Young charges a $5 drop-in fee for the hikes.
Young provides resistance bands, ladders, hurdles and other equipment to increase the intensity of the workouts. Last spring and summer, a group of about seven to 10 regular attendees as well as drop-ins enjoyed workouts in seven of the city’s parks, most frequently at Provin Trails.
“I received a lot of comments last year from members who did not know how many hiking trails were in Grand Rapids and would have never otherwise ventured to these locations,” said Young. “Supporting local businesses and the local environment is very important to us.”
The Hiking and Fitness Club launches its second season on Wednesday, April 9 at Great Escape Fitness, at 959 Lake Dr. For more information about the upcoming spring and summer schedule, visit Great Escape Fitness.
*Photos courtesy of Great Escape Fitness