Latinas keep each other exercising
SILVERTHORNE – Leticia Diaz greets her friends with besos – kisses in Spanish – in the lobby of the Silverthorne Recreation Center. The room buzzes with the week’s gossip and the cries of small children. As the clock ticks toward 11:30 a.m., more women join the bubbling circle of Latinas. Warm eyes meet new faces as Spanish bounces off the walls of the rec center. More people would probably uphold their New Year’s workout resolutions if they were greeted with the same hospitality and friendliness that’s found at Latinas en Movimiento (Latinas on the Move). The group, established by the Community Care Clinic and the Summit Prevention Alliance, promotes exercise and good nutrition for Hispanic women. “We started with the women because we knew that was the easiest target,” said Cecilia Thompson of the prevention alliance and “Movimiento” nutritionist.
For now, “Movimientos” meets once a week, three times a month, at the rec center and one time a month at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco. When they’re at the rec center, a weigh-in and 50 minutes of exercise is followed by a group discussion and goal setting. Last week’s talk was centered on eating more fish, and the previous week the ladies were challenged to try a new fruit or vegetable. “We try to talk friend to friend,” Thompson said. “I say, ‘Let me recommend this for the health of your family.’ It’s person to person, not like a teacher.”
The communal vibe is a big reason many of the Latinas say they joined the group, which has grown each week since its Feb. 7 inception. Diaz works at the Summit County Thrift & Treasure store, and said she tells the Latinas that come in about the group.
“It’s easier to exercise with someone of the same culture,” Diaz said. “Movimientos” co-coordinator Jenniffer Gonzalez said she sees a lot of isolated Latinas at the Care Clinic, where she works as the women’s health coordinator.
“They don’t have any type of group where they can communicate with others,” she said. ” ‘Movimientos’ makes them feel better in society. They don’t feel apart because of cultural barriers and language.”Marta Torres, who is pregnant, said she joined the group to help her exercise and prepare for delivery. “I wanted to meet more Latinas,” she said. “When it’s in a group … it’s better.”
Now the families of the “Movimientos” women are getting a taste of the healthy lifestyle, too. Diaz’s children have a plate of veggies with dinner and she’s using more olive oil in her cooking. Beatriz Cab said she’s staying away from greasy food. And everyone’s exercising more, whether it’s once a week at ‘Movimientos’ or in small groups outside of the class. “I make this day very special,” Diaz, who works three jobs, said. “I asked for Wednesday off to exercise, and now I work Sunday instead. It makes me so happy.”