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New program in Bethlehem teaches fitness, history

Published On: May 01 2013 04:15:02 PM EDT   Updated On: May 01 2013 05:34:29 PM EDT

It's time to "get your tail on the trail!" A new fitness program in Bethlehem is part workout session and part history lesson.


It's time to "get your tail on the trail!"  A new fitness program in Bethlehem is part workout session and part history lesson.

For nearly 200 school kids Wednesday morning, recess looked more like boot camp.

"Hurt my legs!" said student Michael Szilagii.


The kids and their teachers gathered at Sand Island, along the Lehigh River, to kick off a new fitness program called, "Get Your Tail on the Trail." The city and St. Luke's University Health Network are partnering together on the plan.

"Over the next six months, we're challenging each and every one of you to .... walk, run, or bike 165 miles in six months," said Dr. Bonnie Coyle, St. Luke's community health director.

The "trail" is the 165-mile Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Corridor, which stretches along the old barge canal that brought coal out of the mountains to industries like Bethlehem Steel.

It's a unique marriage of fitness and history.  First, kids ran exercise drills and did Zumba classes.

"A lot of people cheated," said student Maylon Nemeth.  "On the skip, they just ran."

"They did amazing!" said Zumba instructor Nellyvette Perez.  "They really got into it."

Later, the kids got to pet a 1,500 pound mule, similar to those that pulled coal barges down the Lehigh canal.

While all this may just sound like fun, but there is a serious side to all this.  Organizers hope the children will encourage their parents to hit the trail with them.

"We have lots of diabetes, lots of people who have problems," said Coyle, who added that heart disease is a major problem in the Lehigh Valley, as well.  "We're getting kids excited about being active.  They'll go home and talk to their parents and their parents will get excited too."

Perez said Zumba proves exercise doesn't have to be boring.

"It's just a matter of having fun, not really following the exact move," she said.  "Just have fun and move."

They're moving to the beat of history.