Porterville works to “Shape Up” in time for St. Patrick’s Day

City of Porterville motivates community to partake in third annual Shamrock Shape Up fitness challenge to encourage healthier lifestyles

PORTERVILLE – For the third year in a row, the city is conducting a virtual fitness challenge as a way to engage with the community and keep residents active.

Regardless if someone is working towards a new year’s resolution or looking to change up their workout routine, the city’s leisure services specialist Amy Graybehl said the challenge promotes a healthier lifestyle. The challenge, called the Shamrock Shape Up, encourages residents to stay active for 1,000 collective minutes within the span of 45 days through an online service that assists participants by logging their progress.

“We’ve kept it going because it’s a good way to kick off the new year,” Graybehl said. “It doesn’t take a lot of effort from participants, they just log their workouts and we get to keep track and keep in touch with them.”

The fitness challenge starts on Feb. 1 and wraps up on March 17, which is St. Patrick’s Day. According to Graybehl, the event started in its first year as the “1,000 challenge” but since it ends on St. Patrick’s Day, the name was changed to the Shamrock Shape Up in its second year. Through the Shamrock Shape Up, residents can partake in any type of workout they deem fit for the 1,000 minutes. Graybehl said it could be anything from a brisk walk or hardcore pump routine at the gym, so long as the workout is serving the resident; and after completing their workout, she said participants keep track of their progress by logging it on the online platform Strava.

Strava is an internet service used to track physical exercise by incorporating social networking features, which Graybehl described as becoming part of a club. Similar to the way other social media platforms work, she said people can comment on other people’s logged activities and leave supporting remarks or even link up for partnered workouts. It also allows the city to keep track of resident participation as the 45 days progress, and show their own staff’s progress as they partake in the challenge as well.

“That’s also the other virtual component of it, the [sense of] community that comes with it,” Graybehl said.

After completing the challenge, participants will earn a medal that they can pick up at the city’s Parks & Leisure office at 15 E. Thurman Ave, Suite A. Anyone that takes part in the challenge will receive a commemorative shirt just for signing up for the program itself. Additionally, people of all ages are open to join in on the fitness challenge. Families are able to sign up together or friends can sign up as a way to challenge one another.

To officially partake in the event, participants must pay a fee of $17, which is meant to fit the theme of the Shamrock Shape Up by matching the end date of March 17. Graybehl said the funds gathered through the challenge will be used to supply participants and the overall event by paying for the shirts, medals and anything needed for additional encouragement along the way.

Graybehl said the overall idea for the fitness program started in 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. After observing similar tactics amongst other cities in the state, the city of Porterville decided to partake in the virtual activity as well, as they were already utilizing online pass times like virtual bingo. Following a good community response, Graybehl said the city decided the challenge was worth keeping.

“We hadn’t done anything like that before, but we were just looking for any way to connect with our community,” Graybehl said.

Last year, Graybehl said the program garnered about 165 people that started the program and a little over half of participants, an approximate 75, completed it. Due to its current popularity amongst the populace, she said last year the program garnered a sponsorship from Oacys Technology, an internet technology service based in Porterville. According to Graybehl, the company supports a lot of local programs and often gets their employees involved with them as well.

On the program’s longevity, Graybehl said the city will keep the challenge going as long as the community is still interested in having it. With so much support behind it already, she said the goal is to maintain it for many years to come.

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