Women in Motion helps locals make big strides in health, life

Monday , October 24, 2016 - 5:00 AM

LEIA LARSEN, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — A local group is helping women become healthier, stronger and more motivated to take charge of their lives.

Women in Motion’s motto is to “improve quality of life, one step at a time” and the group’s mission is to get Ogden women with health risks fit enough and empowered enough to participate in local races.

The group meets twice a week starting in January to train and develop healthy habits. After 18 weeks, the women run, jog or walk the half-marathon or 5k races of the Ogden Marathon.

Most participants agree, however, that the biggest benefit from Women in Motion is the camaraderie. 

“I was so worried I was going to be the fattest one, the biggest one, the slowest one,” Mindi Hansen, 48, said. “That’s what’s nice about this group ... It’s people we feel comfortable around. We’re accepting, we’re nonjudgmental. They’re my best friends now.”

Hansen works as a nurse and joined Women in Motion at the urging of a doctor. In two years, she’s participated in half-marathons, triathlons and bike races, and she’s lost 60 pounds.

“I couldn’t even walk around the block before,” she said. “Now I can’t stand to sit.”

Women in Motion isn’t branded as a weight-loss program, director Rachel Smith said, although it’s often a byproduct. But the real goal of the program is to change lifestyles for women with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated BMI or diabetes risk.

“I see people changing their lives. They’re more active; they’re go-getters; they’re ‘yes’ women instead of saying ‘I can’t do that’ or ‘I don’t feel comfortable doing that,’” Smith said. “I see them busting out of their shells.”

When Women in Motion kicks off again in January, the group will meet on Wednesdays to do strength training and to learn about nutrition, healthy cooking, goal setting and behavior change from local experts. On Saturdays, they meet at 8 a.m. for training walks. 

“It’s kind of a couch-to-half-marathon program,” Smith said. “It gives people the tools they need to make healthy changes in their lives.”

Those behaviors often stick through the summer after the program ends. Shelley Fawcett, 53, said finding a network of like-minded women helped her form new, healthy habits that last all year. She joined four years ago.

“I was overweight, I was turning 50 and I thought I’d better start living life — getting out and living is what I wanted to do,” she said. “After (Women in Motion) is done, we keep moving and hanging out with all our buddies  — someone’s always doing something.”

Women in Motion has had to overcome some obstacles of its own. Founded in 2005, the program was first supported by McKay-Dee Hospital for two years, then moved to Weber State University’s Health Promotion and Human Performance Department for eight years. Budget constraints meant the university had to cut the program two years ago, Smith said, but she kept it alive by turning it into a nonprofit.  

“The only reason I kept it going is because I love it. I love these ladies. They’ve become part of my life,” Smith said.

Fifty women participated in the program last year. Smith wants to bump up that number to 80 in 2017.

“I feel like it’s so important to have a resource like this. There’s a cost, but it’s a relatively low cost considering what they’re getting,” she said. “They’ve been putting their families first for years ... this is the first thing they’re doing for themselves in a long time.”

Women in Motion costs $180 for the 5k race training and $200 for the half-marathon. The fee includes all classes and Ogden Marathon race registration. The program is open to local women of all ages with high-risk health factors. For more information and to sign up, visit womeninmotion.website or call Smith at 801-336-8526.

Contact Reporter Leia Larsen at 801-625-4289 or llarsen@standard.net. Follow her on Facebook.com/leiaoutside or on Twitter at @LeiaLarsen.

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