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The Catalyst

Adventure Out campaign nurtures ‘green’ exercise

By Dawn Brazell
Public Relations

Dance instructor Rob Powell crouches low and drums in the air, face alight, sweat flying, Latin rhythms pulsing in the air.

As a Zumba fitness instructor at MUSC Wellness Center, he’s having a blast. The only thing better would be to take the party outside, he said about why he’s one of more than 20 Wellness Center fitness professionals who will be hitting Charleston County parks in full force in May. The goal is to get people more active in outdoor or green exercise, which research is showing delivers more health benefits than its indoor counterpart.

Rob Powell crouches low for some drumming during a Zumba class at MUSC’s Wellness Center. He’s one of more than 20 instructors launching Adventure Out. To watch a Zumba class, visit
Rob Powell crouches low for some drumming during a Zumba class at MUSC’s Wellness Center. He’s one of more than 20 instructors launching Adventure Out. To watch a Zumba class, visit

The pilot Adventure Out program is a partnership among MUSC and its Wellness Center, Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission and the Parklands Foundation of Charleston County. Susan Johnson, Ph.D., director of MUSC’s Office of Health Promotion, said each partner brings valuable input.

“The Office of Health Promotion had the vision and the desire to promote outdoor fitness to MUSC and the community. MUSC Wellness Center had the fitness experts and instructors. CCPRC had the facilities and resources, and Parklands Foundation had the means and vision for an even larger, comprehensive ‘exercise is medicine’ movement. We all have something unique to contribute that, together, hopefully it will translate into a healthier community.”

There will be more than 25 free fitness activities to pick from with the purchase of an Adventure Out T-shirt ($10) and there will be early-admission mornings at certain parks for participants to walk, run and exercise on their own. The scheduled fitness classes are geared for all levels and include a wide variety of offerings, including sunrise yoga, family games, Tae Bo, interval conditioning classes, trail running lessons and aqua aerobics. The T-shirt also gives participants free park admission when attending a class.

Johnson said her original goal was to find ways to motivate employees to be more active, but then she began learning more about the value of green exercise.

“Exercising in nature has significant benefits to mental and emotional health, can reduce stress and can help re-set circadian rhythms for those who work long hours or at night. My hope is that through this program, our employees will start going to the parks more, start exercising more, maybe join the Wellness Center if they find a great instructor – but mostly that they realize the value of ‘green’ exercise and make it a part of their lives.”

The launch of the Adventure Out program for MUSC will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 1 in the Horseshoe and in the north garden area next to the Urban Farm. It will feature fitness booths, a climbing wall and fitness trail. MUSC employees who purchase a Charleston County parks gold pass will receive an Adventure Out T-shirt for free.

Tom O’Rourke, executive director of Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission, said he loves the partnership with MUSC and the concept of Adventure Out in that it helps the public to see how the county parks are fitness facilities. The program helps cast the parks as destination sites for health and wellness.

“MUSC has a long tradition of providing expert wellness programs. Partnering with Charleston County Parks, through our Parklands Foundation will cast a much larger net for the wellness needs in the community.”

O’Rourke said that challenging health and wellness issues facing the community need to be addressed.

“Communities are going to need to take responsibility for providing the solutions as well as the education to create a healthier, more vibrant community. It is going to take creative private – public partnerships like the MUSC – CCPRC partnership to truly make a difference.”

The second Adventure Out kickoff will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., May 4 at James Island County Park at the Wappoo Pavillion and stage. There will be jump castles, a climbing wall, family fitness games, a Zumba dance class and food trucks. Johnson said one goal of the program is to expose people to new activities and to try out the benefits of green exercise.

Johnson said she’s excited to be promoting the green exercise trend, given the research showing its additional benefits, including stress management, improved self-esteem and mood, increased frequency of exercise, and improved sense of well-being.

An outdoor fitness enthusiast, Johnson said she knew firsthand the benefits of exercising outdoors.

“Now there’s actually evidence of its benefits, and we want to share that with the public in a fun way that motivates individuals and families to adventure out. We are so fortunate to have all these amazing natural resources available to us, and most of us live within a short walk or drive of a park. We want to make it easy and fun for folks to live more active, healthy lives through this campaign.”

Adventure Out T-shirts may be purchased at multiple locations and events during April, at the launch events or at MUSC Office of Health Promotion – 17 Ehrhardt St., Suite 5, call 792-9536 for pick up times; MUSC Wellness Center – 45 Courtenay Drive, main membership desk, 792-5757.

For information, on how to enroll or volunteer, contact Johnson at 792-1245, email or visit

April 18, 2013

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