Getting fit in Shelby County just got a little bit easier with the help of Shelby Fit, a new fitness resource app for smart phones.
A joint project by the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy and Baptist Memorial Health Care, Shelby Fit offers users a way to log exercise hours, get information on local fitness events, and access a list of parks and activities around Shelby County.
"Its purpose is to help people track their personal fitness goals and, hopefully, to encourage people to get involved in more fitness activities by highlighting parks, trails, events, and features that are near them," said Jen Andrews of the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
Since its launch in mid-June, 512 users have downloaded the free app, according to Ashley Compton of Baptist Memorial Health Care. A running tally on the app's homepage shows that, so far, locals have logged 1,086 exercise hours. Besides tracking workouts, the app helps users determine which activities, such as hiking or basketball, are available at city and county parks.
Personal trainer Wendy Holmes, who partners with Baptist, said this app comes at a crucial time.
"It used to be that we were seeing people moving into the obese category," Holmes said. "Now we're seeing a high increase in morbid obesity, and we're also seeing our kids fighting obesity at a really young age."
A recent Centers for Disease Control study of high school students in Memphis revealed that more than 58 percent did not attend physical education classes at least one time per week, and almost 30 percent did not participate in 60 minutes of physical activity on any day.
While the app is limited to smart phone users, Andrews and Compton see this as only one part of the solution.
"We're hoping [this app] is just a great supplement to what people already have at the parks, which is a free system of trails and lakes and playgrounds and wide-open space," Andrews said.
Shelby Farms and Baptist are dedicated to augmenting physical activity levels in Memphis. Baptist features workout podcasts and videos on its website. Last week, the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy received the National Health and Fitness Award from the National Recreation and Park Association for its work on the 2011 Woodland Discovery Summer Challenge, an educational camp that promoted active lifestyles for Memphis youth.
Currently, the Shelby Fit app is still in its beginning stages, and the app's creators are interested in feedback from users.
"We're absolutely seeking any suggestions, because the app is so new," Compton said. "We're trying to make it easier and better for Memphians so they'll use it as a resource."
To submit a fitness event, suggest changes, or pitch an idea about fitness resources on the app, send an email to email@example.com.