Kathleen Martin is grateful that Lexington was named the least active city in America by Men's Health magazine. Yes, grateful.
Martin, a development manager at GetHealthyLexington, figures that had Lexington been only No. 2 (a rank held by Indianapolis) or 3 (Jackson, Miss.) in the sloth rankings, it would never have had this golden opportunity to show how active the city really is — or to get residents talking more about the wide range of healthy opportunities available to Fayette Countians.
The Sedentary Parade will be the opening event in Lexington's 2nd Sunday program for October, in which more than 60 organizations will provide activities. Couple that with a 5K run/walk, and Sunday will be an entire day of healthy-living activities, to include soccer, obstacle courses, belly dancing, swing dancing and something called "Diabetes Jeopardy."
"This is not like a health fair," said Fayette County extension agent Diana Doggett, whose organization helps to facilitate 2nd Sunday activities around Kentucky (all but a handful of counties have 2nd Sunday events in October). "We want it to be eventful and physical."
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Participating organizations are asked not to just stand behind a table and hand out brochures, but to engage attendees with some sort of physical activity.
"What we want people to understand is that we are offering a day of exploration for activities that are always available in Fayette County," Doggett said.
Starting the day of physical activity, though, will be a tongue-in-cheek celebration of Lexington's top ranking in the nation's couch-hugging, cable TV-bingeing division. The Sedentary Parade's name is a play on words: Presenters will gather on the Main Street side of the CentrePointe lot at 2 p.m. to provide a brief introduction to their offerings, such as bikram yoga and a "wave" formation done from lawn chairs. No marching will take place.
It's a short spell of sitting still, and then lots of activity. After the "parade," much of central downtown — especially the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza, but also the Centrepointe lot, Phoenix Park and the streets around those areas — will be filled with activities, information and demonstrations until 6 p.m. Also, details of a new citywide program will be announced that will offer Lexingtonians the opportunity to sample fitness venues around the city on the model of the regular Gallery Hop visual-arts event.
Earlier in Sunday's events will be the Fayette County Schools PTA 5K Run/Walk at Coldstream Park, off Newtown Pike, to benefit the parent-teacher associations of the participants.
The variety of activities in the face of the sedentary label "allows us to highlight that this is not what we really are," said Martin, whose organization is coordinating the Sedentary Parade. "Our community by nature moves. We're constantly in action. Explaining to people that I need them to do something that is sitting still for 30 minutes is hard."
For kids, activities will include inflatable toys to romp on. Adults can sample Zumba, yoga and hantis, a kind of high-coordination ping-pong in which participants use their hands rather than paddles.
Bikram Yoga Lexington will use the occasion to show newbies what participants do during its classes. Owner Jodi Chmielewski said she has offered free presentations at a number of city venues, including the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion downtown, and she relishes the opportunity to show how the number of Lexington yoga practitioners is exploding.
"Our numbers are growing every year, our studio is growing, and our community is growing," she said. "There are a lot of people in the community definitely responding to this."
Fruits, vegetables and barbecue will be available, as will Kentucky American Water's new Hydration Station trailer, where those who bring their own water bottles may fill up on chilled tap water all afternoon. (For those who don't bring bottles, cups will be available.)
Neither representatives of Men's Health magazine nor television pundit Stephen Colbert, who poked fun at Lexington on his eponymous TV show on Comedy Central, are expected to attend, but Martin said the turnout doubtless will reflect their influence.
Putting together a Sedentary Parade, Martin said, has been "so hysterical because it's not us. It's been very difficult to put together something where no one moves."