There are few places that provide such inspiration as the great outdoors. That’s exactly what the organizers of the Green Fit Club (GFC) were counting on when they started a new and innovative fitness program in 2009. An alternative to gym memberships, GFC gives participants the chance to get fit and simultaneously enjoy Three Rivers Park District’s French Regional Park.
“Our overall goal is to provide an affordable fitness opportunity for people that also gets them out enjoying nature,” says Elizabeth Muggli, one of the original members and former outdoor recreation specialist. “We thought, ‘Why can’t we get people out here jogging on these trails and doing yoga up on the hilltop instead of in a confined space breathing indoor air?’”
As GFC members do everything from trail-running to paddling to rock climbing and yoga, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, prompting the original pilot program to expand. What’s more, GFC is open to anyone and everyone, proving that getting fit isn’t about experience or skill level, but rather the willingness to simply get out and get active.
Something for Everyone
In an effort to provide members with a variety of different experiences, the Green Fit Club operates in four seasons. A $60 membership fee gains you access to three months of classes offered three to four days a week from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The inaugural fall season featured trail hikes, Nordic walking and paddling. The winter season included cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, while the spring and summer sessions boast a combination of climbing, trail-running and hiking. Each season also includes yoga, which is held both indoors at the Visitor Center and outdoors.
GFC’s former yoga instructor Julie Clennon says, “It gives people a great opportunity to try yoga who might not try it elsewhere.”
After years of joining and dropping gym memberships, member Julie Grant discovered her niche with Green Fit. “I prefer to be outside,” she says. “Walking indoors on a track just doesn’t do it for me.” She adds that GFC instructors go out of their way to accommodate all ability and experience levels. “You don’t have to be at the top of your game every single day. You do what you can. There’s no pushing, just encouraging,” she says.
A Green Approach
Not only is the Green Fit Club accepting members from all walks of life with open arms, members are finding a certain camaraderie among other participants that is oftentimes absent from gym environments. “The group dynamic is wonderful—everyone wants to be there, which makes for a fun group,” member Greta Bakken-Miller says. Since she started in the fall 2009 session, Bakken-Miller continued to build up her endurance through the winter and now, a year later, has completed multiple 5k runs. The former “non-runner,” says, “I never would have considered this if it hadn’t been for GFC. I have lost more than 15 pounds since beginning last year. I’m fitter and stronger and feel more confident about myself.”
Inspired by her daughter’s success with GFC, Bakken-Miller’s mother, Judy Bakken, joined the club as well. “I saw how great my daughter was doing, and I thought I had to give it a try,” she says. “The variety of activities makes for an interesting and invigorating experience.”
Aside from the physical benefits Bakken-Miller has garnered, she says the outdoor fitness experience is second to none. “We saw the leaves changes, did yoga by a fireplace two days before Christmas while it was snowing, snowshoed on Medicine Lake, saw the sugar maples tapped for syrup and canoed in the spring in the same spot on the lake where we snowshoed,” she says. “Now that’s pretty cool.”
How to Get Green Fit
Contact outdoor recreation specialist Dan Fjell at 763.694.7722 or email@example.com.