Brownsville launches lifestle change, fitness classes

Jan. 21—Linear Park was bustling Saturday morning starting at 9 a.m. as Brownsville-area residents came out to officially start The Challenge-RGV 2023 with the official weigh-in for competitors.

For the past 14 years, The Challenge-RGV, as part of a collaboration between The City of Brownsville and the UTHealth School of Public Health-Brownsville Regional Campus, serves to kick off the new year by asking residents to get healthy—and win prizes for their weight loss.

Competitors start with the official weigh-in, where volunteers measure their blood pressure in addition to their height, weight, hip and waist to establish their body mass index. From there, volunteers talk with competitors to create a safe and maintainable weight loss goal for each person's specific needs.

The competition gives residents access to free fitness classes and activities to get people moving towards a healthier lifestyle through 20 wellness partners in Brownsville, La Feria and Edinburg. In addition to workout classes, it offers access to diabetes prevention support, free workouts through Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta!, and healthier cooking through Brownsville Wellness Coalition's La Cocina Alegre classes.

By completing their 10-class punch cards, participants can be entered into a raffle for prizes on the day of the final weigh-in on April 22 at Linear Park.

Furthermore, participants that lose 5% of their body weight can win one of three prizes of $1,000.

The competition and its associated prizes are through the sponsorship of AARP, Brownsville PUB, cdcb — come dream. come build, Valley Regional Medical Center and Latinx Voces.

The motivation for the competition each year comes from a desire to reduce the health risks and chronic diseases in the community connected to obesity and diabetes, says Lisa Mitchell-Bennett, who serves as Project Manager at the UT School of Public Health.

"By reducing 5% of their weight, they can reduce their risk for those chronic diseases by 50%, which is a huge benefit. It seems like a small thing, but it can really make a difference in your body," she said.

Olmito resident, Mari Landin, came to participate for the third year with a group from her church, Brownsville Community Fellowship.

This year the 41-year-old Landin says she is excited to connect with nature through the free admission to Resaca De La Palma State Park and the chance to try a tae kwon do class at Ed's World Class Tae Kwon Do/Karate Academy that she missed last year.

While she has not won any prizes yet, Landin says the experience of participating each year helps her keep up with her three children and two step-children along with her daily life, which is prize enough.

"For me, what I did get was that I felt better about myself as I started working out and eating healthier. I got a little more confident. I felt I had more energy and could do more stuff with my kids. Be a better mom, a better wife," she explained.

For more information about The Challenge-RGV 2023 and future weigh-ins, visit their Facebook page at The Challenge-RGV.