City fitness program gets New Yorkers to shed the pounds

Shape Up NYC, a new program with the Department of Parks and Recreation, is encouraging New Yorkers to slim down and tone up.

In an effort to combat obesity, the program offers free classes—including yoga, dance, aerobics and Zumba –seven days a week at recreation centers throughout the city.

According to the New York State Department of Health, more than 45 percent of adults in Manhattan are either overweight or obese. Rates are even higher in the other boroughs, from 56 percent in Queens to 68 percent in Brooklyn.

Francis Steward, a program instructor at the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center in the Lower East Side, leads the Wednesday night class, “The Awesome Three: Body Conditioning, Boot Camp and Kick Boxing.”

“We target on toning, toning where women, and men won’t have flab,” Steward said. “Basically I work their core and abs and build up their muscles- keep their bones and muscles strong.”

Beverly Williams, a regular in Steward’s class, attributes her toned arms to the weekly workout. “I can see definition in my arms, I don’t want my arms to be flabby,” Williams said. “So I see a different change in my body and that’s what I’m happy about.”

The city will continue the program through April 8, when participants will come together to celebrate their weight loss success as part of “The New Year New You” Challenge.”