Moai begin Sample Sat. Series

Published 8:58 am Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Sample Saturday Series will by kind of like gym class, only better. As kids, people tried sports weekly and discovered what they like and dislike.

“One thing about exercising is that most people would love to try a new class, but don’t want to spend the money and then find out they don’t like it,” wrote Walking Moai co-directors Erin Sauer and Loyal Leas in an email interview this week.

The Sample Saturday Series is a new initiative this spring and summer coming from the Walking Moai — groups of mostly Albert Leans who like to walk and talk in a social approach toward exercise.

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But exercising with friends doesn’t just have to be walking. The Sample Saturday Series explores other options for social exercising.

The classes are open to the general public and are free. Participants get to learn and to play each sport.

The first one takes place at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Bancroft Bay Park with disc golf, an activity that combines walking and the tossing of discs toward baskets. A few members of the Flying Lea Disc Golf Club will instruct.

Other classes this year range from tennis to geocaching to kayaking. And there are three free swimming sessions at the city pool. They are on June 18, July 16 and Aug. 13.

“I am one of those people who hates exercising,” Sauer said, “but walking to me isn’t really exercise, especially when I am walking with moai. Walking gives us an emotional boost as well as a physical one.”

Oh, yes, moai.

People who lived in Albert Lea in 2009, during the citywide health-improvement initiative called the AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project, already know moai refers to how Okinawans stay lifelong friends, which research shows is good for longevity. The Blue Zones adopted the term to promote exercising with friends.

Sauer added that the classes allow people with similar interests to meet.

“Come to one of the classes, and you may just leave with a new group of friends,” she said.

The Walking Moai is an effort of the National Vitality Center, a lasting result of the 2009 Vitality Project. A grant of $925 from the Statewide Health Improvement Program offsets costs of materials, rentals and prizes for the Sample Saturday Series.

Sauer and Leas stressed the initiative couldn’t be done without the aid of many volunteers. And they credited Albert Lea Community Education, Albert Lea Parks and Recreation Department and the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce for assistance.

The idea to hold the Sample Saturday Series sprung out of what the Walking Moai did last year, Sauer said. Leas and Sauer enjoyed classes with Pilates and yoga at parks. They decided to expand the idea and widen the range of activities.

Sauer is the human resources assistant at Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, and Leas is a retired English teacher turned travel agent. They have been involved with the Walking Moai since the start in 2009, and when asked in February to be co-directors for 2011, they said yes.

See the Scoreboard for list of Sample Saturday Series events.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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