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Grass Roots Wellness Initiative Builds Muscle in Jackson, Tennessee

Jackson, TN (PRWEB) May 23, 2013

Spring and summer have always been motivation for people to get fit, but what’s gotten into Jackson, the city between Memphis and Nashville? In the last year alone, a variety of new fitness facilities and wellness centers has transformed the growing area into one of the most health-conscious cities in the state.

“In any city of vibrant, young professionals you are going to see demand for ways to improve or promote health,” said Kim White, owner of The Fight Shop, one of the city’s hottest new training facilities. “There are now more places to get in shape than ever before in Jackson, which is a good sign for where our city’s going.”

Today 15 fitness centers operate in a city of more than 65,000—and two more are under construction. The numerous variety gives Jackson more wellness centers per capita than any other city its size in the state. From the privately-owned Jackson Sport and Fitness Center, to publicly traded health clubs like Gold’s Gym, to Jackson Madison County General Hospital’s innovative LIFT Center, it’s hard not to notice the trend.

“Jackson has a long history of fitness, outdoor recreation and athletics,” said Julie McMahon, director of the Andrew Jackson Marathon. “Our marathon just completed its 41st year, making it the oldest marathon in Tennessee.” Runners at the event can qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. This year’s event included a children’s marathon in collaboration with area schools. Children could cover and record miles while in school and run the final mile on the marathon course.

Jumpstart Jackson’s annual Community Walk is another popular event that promotes health and wellness in the city. “This year more than 1,500 adults, schoolchildren and their parents participated in the wellness walk,” said organizer Annette Wilson. “We are striving hard to make Jackson a healthier place for all community members.”

“It’s exciting to see the emphasis on fitness and wellness in the community, and this is coming from the people of Jackson, not some outside initiative” said Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist. “One of the most enjoyable parts of serving as mayor is working to provide recreation facilities that people use and appreciate.”

It was Gist’s leadership while director of the Parks and Recreation Department in the 1990s that may have set the stage for a healthier, more active Jackson today. A number of the 24 public parks in the county were developed or improved during his tenure.

The West Tennessee Healthcare Sportsplex, with 17 baseball and softball fields, has now been host to more than 1 million players and fans since its opening 10 years ago. Adjacent to the stadium for the city’s minor league baseball team, Seattle Mariner’s affiliate the Jackson Generals, the Sportsplex draws amateurs from all over the country.

Gold’s Gym was one of the first fitness facilities in the city with its roots going back to the Racquet Club of Jackson in 1978. “We have something for the entire family. People from all over West Tennessee come to us for our strength training equipment, yoga facility and group exercise classes,” said owner Steve Roten. “We are also proud to host the annual Turkey Day run that attracted nearly 1,000 runners to our city last year.”

The latest addition to Jackson’s fitness scene is Planet Fitness, which opened its doors in April and plans a grand opening in May. One of the gym’s biggest sponsors is the hit TV show “The Biggest Loser” where overweight contestants fight to get fit.

Not only are fitness facilities thriving in Jackson, many fitness equipment retailers are seeing a resurgence, too.

“We’re seeing many more first-time cyclists,” said Adrian Parchman, one of the owners at Hub City Bicycle Company in Jackson. “What’s exciting is that we’re seeing more high school and college students, people who see cycling as an active sport to get involved in. And we’re seeing just as many baby boomers getting into cycling.”

Jackson has gained the wellness spotlight of late thanks to the development of the Jackson Walk, the first walkable community in West Tennessee designed to reduce long commutes, bring communities together and build healthier cities. The development is anchored by a local farmer’s market, the comprehensive-care themed LIFT Center and retail. It offers apartments and single-family homes within walking distance of the University of Memphis Lambuth campus, one of seven area colleges and universities.

“The health of a city is important in attracting new business and industry,” said Kyle Spurgeon, president of the Jackson Chamber. “Companies looking to relocate consider overall healthcare costs. Wellness activities reduce costs, lower absenteeism and offer a more vibrant workforce.”

The Jackson Chamber is working with groups like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), organizations that track and share health data by every county in the U.S. According to their data, the Tennessee average for health and fitness facilities is eight per 100,000 residents. Madison County currently rates 13 facilities per 100,000 residents.

The Jackson Chamber was founded in 1905 – seven years prior to the United States Chamber of Commerce. The chamber consists of a diverse and talented staff, an executive committee, dedicated volunteers, and more than 1,350 business members – all committed to growing the economy and quality of life in Madison County. For more information about the Jackson Chamber visit or call 731.423.2200.

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Source: PRWeb
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