Friday June 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Who needs a rail trail? Downtown Pittsfield is now has its own exercise track.

A new two-mile walking/running loop around the heart of the city encourages those who live and work in the cultural district to get off their keisters and enjoy downtown on foot while getting their heart rate up.

"We're not trying to make fitness stars out of people," said Jim Ramondetta, owner of Berkshire Nautilus. "We're saying: Let's get active, get out and look at how nice it is now downtown."

The path runs from the Colonial Theatre on South Street, around Park Square, up North Street to Berkshire Medical Center and back again. About 40 permanent, reflective "Downtown Loop" signs pointing the route's way were erected Thursday.

A kickoff walk of the loop begins at Dunham Mall at 12:15 p.m. on Monday.

The collaboration between the city, Downtown Inc. and several local health and fitness organizations intends to motivate more employees and residents to use their lunch hours and free time to stretch their legs around the revitalized district.

"It puts it right in the forefront of people's minds," said Carol Nixon, wellness program coordinator for Berkshire Health Systems. "It's changing your culture so that you enable people to do healthy things just naturally."

Primarily a local wellness initiative, organizers are also crossing their fingers that "the loop" catches on as tourist attraction, as well.

"Since we're demarcating a route here, we're hoping that with continued publicity that visitors to Pittsfield will say, ‘Let's walk the loop and see downtown and make it a day,' " said Elie Hammerling, a board member of Downtown Inc. who developed the idea for the route.

To reach Amanda Korman:
akorman@berkshireeagle.com
(413) 496-6243
On Twitter: @mandface



If you go ...

What: "Downtown Loop" kickoff walk

When: 12:15 p.m. Monday. "Mini" health fair hosted by BHS runs from 11 a.m to 1 p.m.

Where: Pittsfield City Hall, Dunham Mall

Did you know ...

  • Walking 30 to 60 minutes a day cuts your risk of heart disease and stroke in half
  • Walking 30 minutes a day or 150 minutes per week can lower your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes by 60 percent
  • Adding 2,000 steps a day to your regular activity helps to prevent weight gain.

Source: Berkshire Health Systems