For most of the thousand or so Nevada County Meltdown participants, fitness is the main goal, with weight loss a welcome byproduct.
For 10 girls in The Friendship Club, it is also about self-esteem.
The club that started in 1995 to help area at-risk girls flourish has two teams in the friendly fitness competition.
Their participation is an extension of Meltdown mentor Carole Carson’s prodding them into the gym last year.
“She got us working out here,” said club member Cassy Benuzzi between leg lifts at the South Yuba Club Wednesday. “We thought it would be nice to support her during the Meltdown.”
Benuzzi, 16 and a Nevada Union High School student, is having a blast with the Meltdown. “I like the idea and the community being behind it,” she said. “We do 20 minutes of cardio, two sets of 15 on each (weight) machine, and then we stretch.”
For Benuzzi, “it’s nice. It makes you happier if you’re having a bad day. It takes your mind off things, and I can sleep a lot easier now. I’m a lot more energized.”
Friendship Club Program Director Wendy Meyers, 30, and an NU graduate, said the Meltdown blends in well with what the club is doing for the girls.
“We just wanted to start teaching them about a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise. If the girls lose weight, that’s great, but it’s about health overall.”
“I just wanted to build up my self-esteem by being healthy,” said club member Desiree Becerra, 16, and a Sierra Foothill High School student. “It’s been fun. My arms are stronger now, and I’m able to be more flexible.”
“I love it,” said club member Jodi Block, 16, and an NU student. “It gives me a lot more energy, and I’m happier about myself, happier about my appearance, and my attitude is better.”
Block also sees the Meltdown and the fact that local health clubs are opening their doors to it as a social help.
“I get to use the weight machines that I don’t have at home, and they’re cool,” she said. “I think it’s really awesome. This way people who don’t have money and a chance can go to the gym too and work out.”
“It’s great, only in a small town,” said Meyers, who returned from Los Angeles after missing Nevada County’s calm charm. “I get to come to the club and stay fit, too.”
Meyers and other leaders are making the Meltdown just a part of the club’s fitness push for the girls. “We’re trying to get them out to do other sports,” Meyers said. “Some of the girls go walking or running and there’s dance, wall climbing and martial arts.”
There is also self-esteem.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m.
Topic: Building a Home Gym
Presenter: Scott Jackson, Owner
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