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The Catalyst

Adventure Out gets fitness outdoors for May

by Dawn Brazell
Public Relations

Zumba instructors Rob Powell and Katie Williams get the crowd excited at a Latin dance event at Adventure Out 2013.  photo provided

Getting fitter can be as easy as stepping outside to your favorite park.

At least that’s what the sponsors of the second annual Adventure Out program want participants to find out this May. The outdoor activity campaign, hosted by MUSC, the MUSC Wellness Center and the City of Charleston Recreation Department and City Parks, will feature more than 25 fitness events held in city of Charleston parks and the MUSC Wellness Center to get more people outside and moving.

In its second year, the Adventure Out program offers a wide range of activities, including Latin dance, sunrise yoga, boot camp led by active–duty Marines and a special “Selfie Historic Scavenger” hunt featuring fun locations in downtown Charleston. The opening event will be held May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hampton Park and features a Zumba class and children’s fitness activities.

Susan Johnson, Ph.D., director of MUSC’s Office of Health Promotion, said sticking to an exercise plan long-term is hard. “Most of us need periodic motivation to keep us on track. By offering a month-long fitness campaign annually, it allows us to get our community motivated to exercise and try new things.”

Partnering with community organizations and tying into outside resources expands MUSC’s outreach into the community and supports its mission to help more people get outdoors during May to enjoy the area’s natural resources while improving their health, she said.

The fitness events will be showcased in Charleston’s beautiful parks, with Adventure Out adding to the momentum of the city’s Lighten Up Charleston program.

The program, launched as an initiative of Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley in 2012, provides an interactive website,, to promote community fitness and recreation programs and allow residents to track their wellness goals and learn ways to lose weight.

“Mayor Riley is committed to promoting health and wellness through his Lighten Up Charleston program, so this was a perfect fit from his perspective,” Johnson said.
Barbara Vaughn, director of media relations for the city, agreed, adding that encouraging use of the parks’ open spaces enhances the well-being of the community.

“Developing opportunities through the city’s parks and recreation program and MUSC’s Adventure Out initiative gives us additional opportunities to do just that — to be that spark that will ignite an interest to want to do more to be healthier. We look forward to watching the steps taken toward individual accomplishments through this exciting initiative,” Vaughn said.

Janis Newton, interim director of the MUSC Wellness Center, said programs such as Adventure Out help create a culture of wellness in a community, facilitating healthy changes by making it easier to get outdoors and active, a goal the center supports. Wellness center fitness instructors will be volunteering their time to lead the classes.

“We’re dedicated to getting people moving who don’t normally move. With Adventure Out, we figure out safe, fun ways to get more active. All they have to do is show up. It’s going to be adapted to their fitness levels, and it’s all organized for them.”

Best of all, the events are in beautiful, green spaces. Green exercise is a new fitness trend, probably here to stay, given research showing its health benefits, Newton said. “It has a calming effect and it can reduce stress. There’s a self-discovery and mindfulness aspect about green exercise.”

A wide variety of events are planned based on feedback from last year’s participants, many of whom discovered new activities they had never tried before, Newton said.

“The older we get, we have our comfort zones, and it’s harder to get outside of the box. We’re less adventuresome. We get more set in our ways. We have to find things that will spark people to move more.”

Adventure Out is an opportunity to do activities with friends, which is always more fun and helps with accountability, she said.

A new event this year is a community day at MUSC Wellness Center May 21. Classes will include Body Bar, a circuit class, Taebo and Zumba. The day at the wellness center also highlights conditioning equipment and programs that people need to support their outdoor activities.

“You have to stay fit to paddleboard, for example. Not every day is great to exercise outdoors and people need to exercise consistently.”

The idea is to encourage people to do a mix of indoor and outdoor fitness activities. Tyler Hunter, Adventure Out coordinator for the Wellness Center, said the goal is to show the community what the Wellness Center has to offer. “We want to encourage them to be healthy and active and show them all the ways they can succeed in this area.”

Participants also can learn how to take some of their indoor workouts outside.

“Outdoor exercise or green exercising is becoming more popular because it’s simple, fun, and for the large part, free,” Tyler said. “Plus, there is just something about being outside and in nature that is more appealing than inside a room with sometimes no windows and artificial lighting.”

Tyler, a personal trainer, said Adventure Out offers great health benefits, especially when coupled with healthier eating habits. The benefits can include weight loss, improved mood, decreased depression and an increase in muscle. This can translate to many health benefits, such as preventing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

One main benefit, though, is how participating in such events can add to the quality of life, he said.

“It is never too late to start making a difference in your life. The more exposure to different exercises that you have, the better the chance of finding that one that you love. I have tried tons of different exercises, and I have learned that I can’t ‘Zumba,’ not that I don’t like it, I just couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. I never thought yoga or Pilates was for me until my friend made me try it with her, and now I’m hooked. It’s all about finding that one thing that makes you excited to lace up your sneakers or take them off,” said Tyler.

For information on Adventure Out and a listing of calendar events and where to purchase T–shirts, visit or contact Johnson at 792-1245 or via email at The purchase of a $10 T–shirt provides admission to all activities.

To watch a video, visit






April 25, 2014



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