Middle-age male hockey fans battling the bulge can get into better game shape with help from the Red Deer Rebels.
The WHL club is among more than 40 teams to lend their support to the Hockey FIT (Fans in Training) program, which aims to give overweight men a game plan to improve their health.
Started as a pilot project in 2015 with the OHL’s London Knights and Sarnia Sting, the program that teaches healthy eating, exercising and making better lifestyle choices proved so successful, it was expanded across the country.
Participants dropped an average of 10 pounds over the 12-week program, which involves weekly 90-minute evening sessions.
During the 12 weeks, local participants are expected to have an opportunity to meet Rebels players and coaches, and even use the team’s training facilities for some sessions. Other sessions will be held in the Northside Community Centre at 6391 76th St.
The program is part of a research effort overseen by Western University Prof. Robert Petrella.
Early participants of the program checked in again a year later with researchers so the effectiveness of the project could be measured.
The results were encouraging. Most men had kept the weight off and had continued to live a healthier lifestyle, with better eating and more exercise.
“Hockey FIT is a game-changer since it plays to what men want, where and how they want to address overweight and obesity; through the power of being a sports fan,” says Petrella, principal investigator and general manager of Hockey FIT.
Inspiration for the project was drawn from a similar program in Britain, where men were teamed up with local soccer clubs.
Connecting fans with their teams both lured and inspired participants, who also enjoyed being able to get in better shape alongside men they had a lot in common with.
Overweight and sedentary men aged 35 to 65 who are looking to change their ways are sought for the program. Organizers hope to recruit 40 to 60 men in each community, about 1,300 nationwide this spring.
Go to www.hockeyfansintraining.org for more information, or to register.