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The fittest little county in the nation

Uncertain if anyone would come, I found the huge turnout at the first Meltdown meeting unbelievable. Still wide-eyed in bed at 2 a.m., I studied the bedroom ceiling trying to absorb the night’s events.

That 400 more people would come to the spill-over session Saturday morning and another 100 at South Yuba that afternoon continued to amaze me.

When, at the second Tuesday night session, a thousand people showed up – some standing, some seated on chairs they brought – we knew that something unique was occurring.



Attracting the attention of Sacramento television stations, the Meltdown program was featured on Channels 3, 58, and 13 during early and late-evening news and repeated the next morning. The Sacramento Bee followed with an article on Jan. 11. On Jan. 12, The Union’s report was picked up by the Associated Press. Clearly, the community Meltdown had taken on a life of its own.

On Wednesday, Jan. 14, during a live interview on KFBK (NewsTalk 1530), I bragged that “Nevada County is becoming the fittest county in the nation” and challenged other communities to compete with us with their own Meltdown campaign. As a result of publicity, inquires about the program are trickling in.




Participants in the Meltdown are organized into teams of five, although some teams have fewer, others more. Some people simply attend the sessions for the information. So far, 120 teams are registered. At the end of the first week, several teams lost 15 or more pounds. None, however, seem to have lost their enthusiasm!

Scrambling as we event organizers are to meet the needs of the 1,000 or so eager participants, we’ve had precious little time to reflect on the significance of our efforts.

What we do know is every segment of our community is contributing, creating a partnership that cuts across all lines. Private business owners of gyms and fitness centers allow registered Meltdowners to work out in their clubs – an enormous contribution! Mike Carville, general manager of South Yuba Club, coordinates the event.

Experts in health, nutrition and exercise give presentations. The county Board of Supervisors and the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City declared January and February official Meltdown months. The Community Wellness Coalition – made up of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, The Union, United Way, the Superintendent of Schools, and prominent health educators – lend their support. Prizes are donated – from make-overs to massages.

Volunteers take on the enormous work involved in producing a weekly event for 1,000. Dale Boothby is the statistician. Fred Lossman organizes volunteers. Jon Katis, general manager of Club Sierra, arranges for use of facilities. Too many to list here, these are just a few of the people providing leadership solely out of their desire to contribute to fitness in our community.

And what an amazing community it is – rich in physical resources, rich in human resources, and, if the size of the audience at Meltdown events is any indication, rich in commitment.

When, at 182 pounds, I wrote my first column and publicly challenged myself to get fit, I didn’t know the outcome. Six months later and 62 pounds lighter, I realized a lifelong dream. In November, when I challenged our community to a public Meltdown, I didn’t know the outcome. Again, I was thrilled when more than 1,000 people joined together to get fit.

Dare we dream again? Could we, ordinary residents in a small county in Northern California, be a catalyst for the nation? Will we take leadership in becoming “The Fittest Little County in the Nation”? If not us, who? If not now, when?

P.S. In the midst of the anxiety, joy, sheer terror, and calm certainty of the past two weeks, I’ve maintained my eating and exercise regimen!

Carole Carson, Nevada City resident, chronicles her quest for fitness in an effort to promote healthful eating and regular exercise. Email her at beltink@earthlink.net or write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945.


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