Columbia residents start 2013 with Happy New U workouts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 | 4:11 p.m. CST; updated 7:19 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Aaron Finney, 5, crawls through a tunnel at the children's fitness area during the Happy New U fitness event Tuesday at the Activity and Recreation Center.

COLUMBIA — Aaron Finney, 5, started the new year by hopping, running and crawling at the Activity and Recreation Center.

"I like crawling through the tunnel," Aaron said. "I like moving around."


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Aaron's mother, Diana Finney, said it was the right way for her son to begin 2013.

"I saw an ad in the Sunday paper" about the event, Finney said. "In this bad weather, I figured he would have fun running."

The Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health hosted the fifth annual Happy New U, a free fitness event, from 10 a.m. to noon on New Year's Day at the ARC at 1701 W. Ash St.

At the event, Columbia residents participated in workouts, classes and demonstrations of activities including tai chi, yoga, Zumba, spinning, gymnastics and body combat, a cardio workout of kicks and punches.

Angie Connell, the chairwoman of the Mayor's Council, said the event aimed to motivate people to stay active throughout the year.

"We tried to provide a variety of activities from a slow, calming activity like tai chi to body combat, which is a high-intense exercise to really help people burn calories," Connell said.

Amy Roberts, who was attending Happy New U for the second time, said she enjoyed body combat.

"It got my heartbeat very quick," Roberts said. "I am now going for yoga."

Connell said she worried that the bad weather would keep people from the event. This year, it drew about 150 to 200 people.

Tai chi and Zumba were the most popular activities. Tai chi drew about 50 people to meditate and stretch their bodies to peaceful, spiritual music, while about 60 people danced to fast, upbeat music in the Zumba class.

Craig Lycke, a member of the Mayor's Council, said the event turned out better than he expected.

"It exceeded my expectation," Lycke said. "More people came to the event despite the bad weather. Do I think it inspired people to participate in different physical activities? I would say yes."

Heather Demand came to the event with her husband and three children, Calvin, 4, Mason, 2, and Cora, 2. Her kids spent time at the children's fitness area and played basketball with their dad. They also enjoyed watching their mother dance to Zumba.

"People usually spend their New Year's morning in front of a TV watching football and eating," Demand said. "For regular exercisers, this is a good outlet."

Demand's husband, Jeff Demand, also thought it was a good experience.

"It was a neat family activity," Jeff Demand said. "Now we are off to the New Year's party at grandma's."

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott.

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