“Live Healthy” Classes Bring Outdoor Fitness and Diet Tips to the L.E.S.

The Bridgerunners participate in EmblemHealth's "Live Healthy" program and meet every Wednesday and walk or run to different parks each week.

The Bridgerunners participate in EmblemHealth’s “Live Healthy” program and meet every Wednesday during the summer.

Contributor Viviane Eng recently checked in on a few “Live Healthy” classes at the Houston Street Center.

Last year, EmblemHealth began a partnership with the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF), the Chinese American Planning Council (CPC), and University Settlement-Houston Street Center. in an effort to put an end to some of the health disparities present in many Asian communities in New York.  Through this collaboration, EmblemHealth began to offer a series of “Live Healthy” seminars and fitness classes throughout the city.  In the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood, these typically take place at University Settlement’s space in the Houston Street Center on Bowery and Houston.

The team has ramped up its programming this year, offering free classes to all who are interested in adopting healthier living habits.  Targeted at neighborhoods which have high immigrant populations, the program provides multidisciplinary classes that teach the importance of living active, health-conscious lifestyles.  These include fitness classes like Zumba, cardio kickboxing, running and walking programs, but also some that you might not expect, like cooking.

Sally Wong giving a cooking demo at University Settlement.

Registered dietician and nutritionist Sally Wong shows class participants how to give an average meal a healthy twist with recipes like curry chicken made with low fat coconut milk, stir fried brown rice made with low-sodium soy sauce and pan fried dumplings with lean pork and  shrimp.

“Sally Wong was a good fit for the program because she knows the ins and outs of Asian American cuisine, and how to make it healthier.” said Ryan Natividad, Health Policy Coordinator at CACF.

Familiarity with some healthy additions seems to be much of the theme with the Live Healthy program.  EmblemHealth is able to make an impact on the communities it works with because it partners with local organizations that are already familiar with the people living there.  University Settlement hosted some of the program’s first classes and CACF/CPAC helped spread the word in Asian American communities.

One of the most popular Chinatown Live Healthy programs has been the participation of the “Bridge Runners,” which meet each Monday at 6:30 p.m. throughout the summer.  The two hour group session has, in the past, walked or run across the East River bridges, but the group now often takes walks together to the West Side Highway, where there are many more paths available.

A Bridgerunners compilation via their Instagram feed.

“I walked with the group one time… and I had no idea that I’d walked 3.6 miles,” said Ryan.

Chinatown is not the only neighborhood where Live Healthy classes are taking place.  They are also offered in Bedford Stuyvesant, Flatbush, Jackson Heights, and Washington Heights.  For a full schedule of classes offered, click here.