Every summer, hundreds of people participate in Cedars-Sinai’s free Exercise in the Park program led by health educators at two locations in underserved neighborhoods in the West Adams district.
The workouts — a combination of stretching, calisthenics and dance moves — attract many regulars who have participated since the program started in 2012. They show up Mondays through Thursdays with bottled water, enthusiasm and commitment. One young mother, who works nights and often doesn’t return home until 1 a.m., sets her alarm to get up early each day because she doesn’t want to miss the 8:30 a.m. sessions.
The hour-long workouts are offered for eight weeks as part of the Cedars-Sinai Healthy Habits program, which provides nutrition and fitness education year-round for school children and their parents.
“The benefits of the summer workouts for participants have been significant,” says Carolyn Buenaflor, associate director of Healthy Habits. “Many now exercise year-round with the entire family, and they’re eating healthier and losing weight. They also tell us they feel better emotionally as well.” A survey of 37 participants eight months after the program ended last summer found that 33 continued with some type of exercise, and that all those surveyed said they made healthy change in their eating habits.
The program is held at, Vineyard Recreation Center (2942 Vineyard Ave.) and Westside Neighborhood Park (3085 Clyde Ave.), which attracts the largest crowds, serving as many as 70 people daily.