Fit For You


By Mickey Brandt
From a walk in the park to foot golf, the region has an abundance of ways to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors at the same time.
From simple walking to innovative foot golf, opportunities and locations for outdoor fitness activity are accessible and plentiful in our area. Our region has good air, trees and greenery, a moderate climate and a spacious, clean environment—excellent for outdoor exercise. It even smells fresh here.
Some say outdoor fitness can begin and end at Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove Township, one of the premier recreation areas in the state and often described as the finest state park in southern New Jersey. “Parvins,” as it’s universally called, has a long history in our community and is unparalleled for putting boating, biking, walking, running, and just gazing at trees within the reach of everyone. The forest and glades, bridges and paths, and two wide lakes provide adventure for families and good health for all.
Seven days a week from dawn to dusk, hundreds of walkers pass along its trails and some bring their best friends to this “Dog Paradise.” There are trails of different lengths and difficulty along the lakes and in the deeper woods of the 1,000-acre plus semi-wilderness. Wildlife is abundant and there are more than 200 kinds of flowering plants.
And if you ever get tired of the land, Al and Sam’s rents canoes and kayaks for you to enjoy in the water. Swimming is often available in season at the broad beach and you can camp in tents and RVs or rent a rustic cabin on Thundergust Lake.
The Ritter family—Matthew and Erica and their children Maximus and Leanidis—often walk five miles or more together at the park.
Erica says, “We love Parvins and we’ll be back again next weekend if it’s nice enough, we hope.”
Matthew is more effusive.
“We’re lucky to have such a great place to take your family so close by,” he says. “It’s a nice, safe place to run, lots of trails, lakes to look at, nature, it couldn’t be better.”
The physiological benefits of walking are well known. Less known is that woodland walking also reduces mental stress and hostility while it improves sleep and increases vigor. A dozen studies in 24 forests proved walking there decreases the cortisol level, blood pressure and pulse rate.
Joey Bancer, of Pittsgrove, points out that you don’t even have to walk at Parvin to get a psychic lift.
“Fishing is the big thing for me,” he says. “I’m a pretty stressed-out person, so I need to come here. It’s one of the most relaxing things you can do and if that doesn’t help your health, I don’t know what will.”
If hiking in the woods is not your preference, the Romano Sports Complex at Spring Road and Maple Avenue in Vineland might be more to your liking. It is home to two of the finest paved public walking and running tracks in the county.
One of the tracks is lighted at night, and the other will have courtesy lighting soon. Many people emphasize that the tracks are convenient, comfortable, and safe.
One walker has used the tracks almost daily, year-round, for three years: “When you’re a regular walker, it’s interesting to see people start out doing just a few hundred yards, then before long, they’re up to three miles,” she observes.
Asli Karakaya of Vineland says she doesn’t know why people exercise inside in fine weather: “This is fresh air. You’re always inside working or in your house; why not be outside enjoying the weather?”
All ages, ethnic groups, sexes, and levels of fitness are represented at the Romano Park tracks. Walkers and runners are there in the early morning, at lunchtime, after work, and at night, and surrounding the tracks you will find a baseball field, football field, playground, and a half dozen soccer fields, some of them lighted.
Stephanie Emmals, also from Vineland and employed at Vineland Developmental Center adjacent to the park, has a simple reason to be at Romano.
“I just need to lose some weight,” she says. “I have to get to it, though, stick to it for it to work,” and off she goes.
There’s a nearby place that simultaneously has both woodland walking like Parvin and smooth trails like the Romano track. The Maurice River Bicycle and Walking Trail was established in 2005, adjacent to Waltman Park in downtown Millville. Citizens United Maurice River holds monthly nature walks on the Bicycle and Walking Trail on Saturdays and along other portions of the Maurice River on Tuesdays, led by knowledgeable and entertaining naturalists.
COOPER WELLNESS CENTER: “The Total Neuropathy Solution has been a blessing to patients suffering from the pain and numbness of Peripheral Neuropathy (PN), a condition caused by diabetes, cholesterol drugs, chemotherapy, or exposure to other toxins,” explained Dr. Cooper. “Until this program, there has been no real help for these patients.  The medications prescribed offer little or no relief and have their own side effects, while causing more toxicity in the body.  This new technology corrects physical changes in the damaged nerves, bring them back toward their normal state.”
Neuropathy can also be caused by trauma resulting in physical damage to nerves.  Whether the damage is physical or chemical, the Total Neuropathy Solution now offers the greatest chance for reversing the damage to the nerves. It is not just a way of hiding symptoms, but creating a positive change that rids the patient of the pain and numbness due to neuropathy.
Because most patients that undergo chemotherapy get PN as a side effect, this same technology is now used at Cancer Treatment Centers of America to treat PN.  The Centers have reported a 96 percent success rate in treating PN, reducing or eliminating dangerous pain medications such as Gabapentin and Lyrica.
Cooper Wellness Center also offers effective natural solutions for other common health problems, such as acid reflux, headaches, stress-induced digestive disturbances, neck and back pain, sciatica, and more. If you suffer from neuropathy, call 856- 691-1313 for a free consultation and testing.
Tang Soo Do is a great way to improve and maintain great health and fitness. Tang Soo Do is a traditional Korean martial art that enhances one’s whole being—body, mind, and spirit.
During regular training, practioners work out almost every muscle we have (many we didn’t realize we had), increasing our strength and tone as well as our speed and endurance. In addition to a “full body workout,” we are also mentally engaged in everything we do, we are constantly learning and continually being challenged both physically and mentally. Through meeting and/or exceeding these continual challenges, one develops a higher level of confidence and “inner” strength and the development of an indomitable spirit. Of course, we also learn how to defend ourselves, which gives us a sense of calmness and peace of mind.
Some of the benefits of learning Tang Soo Do at Yi’s Karate of Vineland include, strengthening, flexibility, better focus and concentration, agility, balance, self-control, self-discipline, self-defense, calm and peace of mind, positive and supportive social group, overall health and happiness. The best part: Anyone can do it and gain these benefits.
For 89 years, the YMCA of Vineland has been an integral part of our community. Today, a key component of our Y is focusing on families and health of people of all ages. They do this through a variety of different activities. Last September, the Y redesigned underutilized space within their building into the beautiful Milam Family Multipurpose Center. They also adapted half of the gymnasium into the area’s first Family Health and Adventure Center. Both Centers focus on bringing families together through fitness.
Coming this summer, our Y will offer Summer Memberships, as well as a variety of family nights that include games, movies, BBQ’s, and much more.
This fall, the Milam Family Multipurpose Center will feature open gym times as well as dedicated “Family Gym” times that allow families with younger children to come and play basketball. The Multipurpose Center also includes a walking lane and will host different activities for adults and older children, such as Pickleball.
The Family Health and Adventure Center encourages families with children eight and older to focus on fitness, together as a family, through different avenues. Activities this fall will include a rock climbing wall, two Xbox gaming systems with interactive, physical games, adult and youth-sized cardio and strength equipment, Expresso Virtual Reality bikes, and more. The goal is to have an area for families to focus on their fitness through fun and interactive equipment.
The Y also includes an indoor heated pool that offers open and family swim times. As the weather turns cooler, families will enjoy a dedicated night on Thursday evenings for Family Pool Play. On these evenings, families will be encouraged to jump into the pool and participate in different games with the lifeguards. The hour of Family Pool Play goes by particularly fast!
This fall, our Y will expand its roster of eight-week classes. These are offered throughout the week from early morning to evening hours.
Did you know?
Around 1 in 133 people in the U.S., or 1% of the population, have celiac disease—a more serious form of gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a combination of wheat and rye). It acts as a "glue" in foods such as cereal, bread and pasta, helping them hold their shape. There are so many great foods out there that are off-limits to someone with a gluten allergy.
Lasagna, stuffed shells and gnocchi are types of dishes that are pretty much a big “no-no” for anyone with a gluten allergy unless you prepare them with alternative noodles. There are some great pasta companies, like Conte’s Pasta, that specialize in gluten-free pasta meals.
Longer Walk in the Woods Coming to Bridgeton
Rustic bridges and a catwalk connected Mary Elmer Lake and Sunset Lake in Bridgeton for decades until a storm in the early 1970s breached the former’s 1924 dam and obliterated some trails through the 1,100-acre City Park.
The Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce is rebuilding the path and, once two bridges are finished, it will now re-connect Stony Point and Piney Point along a gorgeous route for the first time since that storm.
Bruce Riley, chairman of the Chamber, feels proud of the work, which could be completed as early as this fall.
“The city park is one of the finest things Bridgeton has,” he says. “It’s important to help fitness and walking to build what’s needed and improve all the trails, including putting up signs and benches.
“The Chamber is doing a lot of things to help keep it beautiful,” he continues.
In early April, a big step was completed—the rebuilding of a 200-foot catwalk (perhaps more accurately called a boardwalk) over a previously impassable swamp. Chamber volunteers using donated materials completed the project in a single weekend. The task was an Eagle Scout project for Billy Waterman of Upper Deerfield.
During the preparation last November for the catwalk rebuilding, Riley noted that the original cedar posts from the structure were discovered. The park trail rebuilding has historical significance and Jim Bergmann, a city historian, is working with the crews. His original 1930s map is the source of the “boardwalk” designation.  —M.B.
Spring Park Hop
Though it has just a week-and-a-half to run, it’s not too late to join in an interesting local fitness program created under Live Healthy Vineland by the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA and City of Vineland Health Department. It’s a free series of fitness activities where families can exercise and maintain good health while having fun together and exploring the city parks. The Park Hop runs through May 19. It’s open to anyone and there’s no registration.
Six student interns from Rowan and Stockton universities are instrumental in running the Park Hop, under the direction of field representative Chelsea Welch and health educator Emma Lopez.
Intern Brooke Singer says, “The park hop is geared for everyone from young children to seniors. We just want the public to get familiar with our parks and to use them to get fit.”
Yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights is popular for beginners and experienced yogis. Family Zumba on Thursdays totally rocks. Kickball on Tuesdays and volleyball on Thursdays have friendly competition. All start at 6 p.m.  —M.B.
Kick Your Way To Health
Walking a golf course is another traditional way to exercise outdoors. But, if you can’t hit a straight shot even in miniature golf, try “FootGolf,” designed mostly for soccer players but open to all.
Much like bicyclists and motorists share the road, at Eastlyn Golf Club in Vineland, traditional golfers and foot golfers share the course.
Like its name, the experience is different. The jumbo holes are not on the greens. Golfers have the right of way. FootGolfers don’t drive carts. Mutual acceptance is the concept.
FootGolf is open to the public and is not only for soccer players developing skills. Club professional Mike Zerra said it’s a good alternative for children’s birthday parties and other celebrations and for families to have an outing.
“Most of the players are teens and 20-somethings,” he said. “But older adults play, too. We’re not burning down the house, but the concept is new and players are picking it up nationally.”
Zerra pointed out that it’s a new form of exercise and brings many people to the golf course who wouldn’t otherwise be there.
The alternate course, designed by FootGolf guru John Thompson of Sicklerville by way of Penrith, England, essentially uses the fairways and water hazards of the traditional one, but is laid out with its own vexing rough and trees.
“I didn’t want a strong soccer player to come out and shoot 28 under par,” Thompson said.     —M.B.
Speaking of Biking
An outdoor fitness story must include the popular exercise of bicycle riding. Along trails, on tracks, and on the side of roadways, increasing numbers of local residents stay healthy through biking.
One interesting experience is at Mojo Bicycle Shop on North Delsea Drive in Vineland, where each Tuesday night at 5:30, weather permitting, it’s Ladies’ Night, organized by Connie Haas. Open to the public, each week the group agrees by consensus on the style, speed, and distance of the ride. The women learn handling skills, road safety, and etiquette. Beginners are encouraged to come.
“Nobody gets left behind,” says Mojo owner Scott Elliott. “Plus, Connie is a good mechanic and after the ride and a healthy snack, she will show participants whatever they want to know about bike maintenance.”
Elliott says that after the one to one-and-a-half hour ride and workshop, many women immediately ask what will be covered next week.
The ride is “taught by women for women,” according to Elliot. “We keep the testosterone out of there.”
(A full feature story on bicycle riding opportunities and groups like SJ Wheelmen will appear this summer in The Grapevine.)   —M.B.
Gloves: Not Just for Baseball
Your garden gloves can also be a path to health and fitness. Here’s an unusual chance to explore it: On Saturday, May 14, from 12 noon to 2 p.m., UR Hardware and General Store in Vineland, in partnership with Live Healthy Vineland, is having its community garden grand opening. The business provides garden plots at almost no cost to families to encourage a healthier lifestyle and reduce food expenditures.
The free event will include hands-on family activities, community vendors, and a workshop by Harry Behrens of Project Harvest at about 1 p.m.
And, hey, there’ll be a paintball shooting gallery, too. You can burn a lot of calories chasing your friends around a paintball course. Enemies too, I guess. —M.B.