WILISTON – It’s the ninth week of the First Strides VT’s annual program and the sports fields bustle with ladies tied their shoes and stretching their legs and looking forward to the upcoming First Strides VT gathering.

There are eight women that comprise First Strides VT the exercise program during the summer months that seeks to change the mind-set of exercising.

First Strides did not begin on the field of recreation at Williston the place where 17 mentors and 125 students get together each week. The mentors are assigned to every group, and program coordinator Kasie Enman explained, a lot of mentors are actually participants in the program.

The program’s origins are in Pennsylvania According to Enman who has been involved with the program for the past nine years. She works with Eileen McCoy.

More than just an exercise program

Jane Serues began the program in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1997 According to the website of First Stride Vermont.

The program grew across Vermont after its first coordinator for the Vermont program, Michele Morris, brought the program to the state from Pennsylvania to Vermont twenty years ago. Morris is currently the office of the director of communications at Chittenden Solid Waste District. Chittenden Solid Waste District.

First Strides VT has been operating for 19 years, and will end by 2020 Enman said.

First Strides VT prides itself in more than just an opportunity to get your cardiovascular rate going. They define themself as “A unique running or walking program designed for women over that is based on peer support, and healthy lifestyles that help you enhance your fitness as well as self-esteem and build a social network of support.”

“I am finding that in the summer, it’s simple to relax and having a routine like this helps me stay motivated,” participant Karla Karstens stated.

Every Wednesday, the groups get together to exercise together, which differs for the different groups. The first week of the program – week 1 participants are required to complete a mile. The coordinators and mentors make eight groups of individuals who have similar fitness levels to work together throughout the summer. A couple of mentors help each group to ensure that they follow the program designed for that specific week.

In week nine’s weekly meeting the people from the group Six will be giving out names to each other. There aren’t all groups with these tags however, it’s a particular group six thing. However, many members have pointed out that the group has donned flower pins to mark the 12 week program.

The progress of the program is not always measured in the amount of time. The exercises gradually intensify the number of runs per week. The term “progress” is a personal one for a variety of people.

“The program develops itself over twelve weeks.” Enman said.

Many individuals visit back every the next to First Strides VT. The aim of the program is to develop an environment of health and wellness within one’s life according to what Enman insists.

“It’s an ideal option to reset at beginning of spring for certain people. It’s a good way to develop a lifestyle in place, but it’s not always seeking to become quicker.” Enman stated.

The final day of the program every year falls on the same day as the annual Green Mountain Athletic Association Round Church Women’s Run in Richmond. This event isn’t required for those who belong to First Strides VT, but it offers members the chance to end this season with a female-friendly environment, which is essential for those who participate in the program.

Participant Claire Giroux-Williams emphasizes this. “It certainly challenges us but the fact that all women are involved is significant to me. I find it difficult to find women in all in the same environment.”


Kate O’Farrell is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press. You can contact her at [email protected]