Four years ago, Chuck Neveu, 54, of New Salem, was a self-admitted couch potato. Though he’d been physically active in his earlier years, his level of fitness had gradually declined as responsibilities of life pressed in on his time.
Neveu’s wake-up call came when his doctor told him that his blood pressure and weight were too high and that he needed medication. With that incentive, he joined the First Step Fitness program at the YMCA in Greenfield, and in just nine weeks was able to successfully walk 5K, or about 3 miles at a time. After that, Neveu was hooked. He has continued his work-outs at the YMCA, and now spends about two hours a day on his exercise routine. So what more could he need?
Two years ago, in the fall of 2009, Neveu learned about the new Walk Franklin County program that had been established to give participants an on-line option for tracking their fitness activities. And right away, he became a walking enthusiast.
Co-sponsored by the YMCA of Greenfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center, Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), Greenfield Community College, and the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, Walk Franklin County was initially designed as a free pedometer-based walking program. It has since added a step-conversion chart so that members can also get credit for their other activities such as cycling, kayaking, dancing, and even gardening.
Neveu has become one of the leading success stories of this program. Since starting, he has logged in more than 5million steps, which is more than 277,000 steps each month or an average of 9,000+ per day. For most people, this would be a lot of exercise; even more impressive is that Neveu does all of this walking in addition to his regular workouts at the gym. And when he goes deer hunting, he has logged as many as 34,000 steps, or 17 miles a day.
Because of Neveu’s enthusiasm for walking, his wife and a few of his neighbors have joined him on some of his daily treks. “It’s a great way for anyone to stay in shape,” he said, “and it costs nothing to join.”
To register, simply go to www.walkfranklincounty.org and follow the prompts. When members have logged 30 days of activity – not necessarily continuous – they will qualify to receive a free packet of 28 laminated maps prepared by FRCOG in support of the program. These maps are also available online, and include outlines of various walks throughout Franklin County plus special points of interest along the way.