Rattlers and other Tallahassee residents are kicking off homecoming week with the new Rattler 5K Urban Challenge and Wellness Expo Saturday.
The new challenge is an attempt to revitalize the old Spirit Run/Walk and promote healthy lifestyle changes at Florida A&M University
“We want to be healthy and balanced overall,” George Heimbach, fitness and wellness coordinator of FAMU’s recreation center, said. “People need to be more aware and proactive about their health.”
The race, which is the collaborative effort of student health services, the recreation center and the U.S. Army and Navy ROTC’s, will begin at 8 a.m. on the Set.
According to FAMU’s Health Communications Specialist, Kianta Key, the Spirit Run/Walk was traditionally held on the Monday morning of homecoming, but did not reach beyond the FAMU community.
“We thought by changing the day and adding an obstacle course, the event would attract more community members and students,” Key said.
The obstacles are optional and include tires, road barriers, cars, as well as other military training equipment.
Some students, like 20-year-old Joash Gonsalves, a third year business administration student from Texas, believe people should take advantage of the programs offered by the school because they are personally beneficial.
“Students should be more concerned with their health while they are young because the choices we make now affect us for the remainder of our lives,” Gonsalves said.
Key said students can be proactive about their health by choosing to eat better and by becoming active.
“When you look at the country—when you walk around campus we’re huge,” Key said. “Obesity, poor diet choices and lack of physical activity lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and some cancers.”
According to Heimbach, many of these medical conditions are preventable through diet and exercise.
Dwayne Parker, a 22-year-old pre-physical therapy senior from Hallandale, is aware of the potential impact of the Rattler 5K Urban Challenge.
“Being a part of this challenge would be so much bigger to me than the race itself,” Parker said. “Obesity is real. There are too many individuals unaware of the health risks associated with this disorder.”
Spreading awareness and education is one of the primary goals of the Wellness Expo. There will be spinning, yoga, and healthy cooking demonstrations. Also, the expo will feature Zumba, Martial Arts and more.
The Rattler 5K Urban Challenge and Wellness Expo is open to all and offers something for everyone. Children ages 12 and under can participate in the 1-Mile Fun Run for free and receive a T-shirt. The registration fee for adults is $5.
“This is not just open to FAMU students it’s an opportunity for everyone to get out and kickoff homecoming,” Heimbach said. “A lot of Tallahassee residents don’t know how beautiful our campus really is, so we are inviting them to come out.”
Heimbach said they are also expecting alumni to join in and see how the campus is improving.
Tiffany Jones, 25, who raced in the Nike Women’s Marathon on Oct.17, said the fitness activities at FAMU have evolved since she graduated in 2007.
“I hear about the different activities and trips that the university has organized now, and it makes me jealous because we did not have those opportunities when I was a student,” Jones said. “I feel students should take more time to appreciate these opportunities that are presented to them.”
As a personal fitness trainer for the university’s recreation center, Parker said events such as the 5K Urban Challenge will help in reaching more people and instilling powerful changes.
“Great health is the key to life,” Parker said. “The healthier you are the longer you live.”