June 22, according to Ashley Mentzer, will be “the best fitness day ever.”
Except, when she says it, it sounds like “ev-aaahhh.”
Mentzer, organizer of the 2nd Annual Thrive Fit Fest, said that fitness should be approachable and fun. She pointed to a publicity photo.
“This is what fitness looks like—all different shapes and sizes and body types,” she said. “We’re real people.”
Mentzer, 29, a New Cumberland native, is transforming Capital City Airport’s 16,000-square-foot hangar into “a hub for central PA’s fitness and wellness community.”
More than 60 fitness, health and wellness professionals will converge at the daylong festival to offer sample classes, demos, workshops and info—to help attendees’ health and wellness goals get off the ground.
“You can come whether you’re a fitness junkie or a fitness newbie and find something that challenges and interests you,” said Mentzer, owner of Thrive Fit Co., Harrisburg.
Crunch Fitness, Harrisburg and York, will kick off the day’s main stage festivities with a dance party-inspired workout. Additional main stage offerings include matte Pilates with Mechanicsburg’s Absolute Pilates, yoga with Lemoyne’s Central Penn Health Studio, an arms and abs-focused boot camp with Mentzer’s own Thrive Fit Co., and barre with Mechanicsburg’s and Lancaster’s Pure Barre.
“We were also on the main stage last year, and it was amazing to see so much buzz and energy,” said Laura Deitch, owner of Pure Barre Mechanicsburg and Lancaster.
Deitch said that barre is “inspired by ballet” to tone all areas of the body—upper, lower and abs. She launched Pure Barre two years ago but said that events like Thrive Fit Fest help her to continue raising awareness about barre’s benefits, as the low-impact workouts are accessible to all.
“One of the things that makes me most excited is the community aspect, having conversations with people and giving them the opportunity to try a class at the same time,” Deitch said. “The more we educate people about their options, the better their chance to live their best, healthiest life.”
The 2015 south-central Pennsylvania community needs assessment led by Penn State Health, which is Thrive Fit Fest’s presenting sponsor, found that one-third of residents are obese and about half participate in aerobic physical activity. Health providers listed “poor eating habits” as the top “risky behavior,” with “lack of exercise” close behind.
Shawnna Smith, a nurse at Penn State Health Medical Group Mechanicsburg who is also a certified personal trainer, is on the front lines of area health care.
“Some people understand the link between health and exercise; others have resistance,” Smith said. “So, part of our job is to get to the bottom of why they have that resistance. Exercise and fitness, if you find something you like, doesn’t have to be a chore.”
Besides Thrive Fit Fest fitness offerings, Penn State Health will provide blood pressure screenings, Orange Theory will offer a heart rate workshop, and the Healthy Grocer and Harvest Seasonal Grill will participate with food demos, recipes and nutritional information.
Additional activities will involve prenatal health and fitness, foot scans and workouts on two additional stages. Swag bags given to all attendees will contain numerous free passes or special rates at participating studios and businesses.
June is the perfect time to evaluate fitness goals, Mentzer said, because New Year’s resolutions have likely fallen by the wayside. So, fitness studios generally have lighter attendance, which can mean more focused attention and dedicated time for those who enroll.
About 500 people attended last year’s inaugural event at FNB Field on City Island, including Harrisburg resident Nada Walton, who brought her 11-year old daughter. A former competitive swimmer whose fitness routine now includes running, Walton said she enjoyed investigating cross-training fitness options.
“My daughter and I rocked out to a POUND workout,” she said. “I had never heard of it. We used drumsticks called ripstix, and the instructor [from Carlisle’s Fit Forward] was energetic and very engaging. My daughter was smiling the whole time.”
Walton and her daughter also enjoyed making peanut butter, painting kindness rocks and learning about York Barbell.
Fit Fest tickets are $25. Proceeds benefit the Warrior Princess Project of PA, an organization that collects gently used and new sports equipment and distributes it to area girls (and sometimes boys) to encourage athletic activities. Donation boxes will be located at Fit Fest.
Mentzer said that she was inspired to create Fit Fest after noticing a worldwide trend in fitness festivals, such as the U.K.’s Balance Festival. She predicts that 2019 attendance will double to 1,000 attendees. She has even bigger dreams for future Thrive Fit Fests, including community CPR training, a 5K and “bigger and better” collaborations between fitness studios.
“Removing walls and connecting health and wellness providers in one location takes the competition aspect away and helps people make life-altering health choices,” Mentzer said. “We don’t have to work against each other. Together, we can achieve the ultimate goal of getting people healthy.”
Thrive Fit Fest takes place on June 22, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Capital City Airport, 210 Airport Rd., New Cumberland. For more information, visit www.thrivefitfest.com.