Helping people change their lives

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions to eat less, exercise more and lose weight.

Parkersburg residents Linda McClead and Kim Coram are trying to help us achieve these healthy resolutions.

McClead’s day job is program coordinator for Wood County Schools Adult Basic Education. She has worked in the Wood County School System for 31 years in various jobs, including 14 years as a health teacher.

At night and other off-work hours, McClead teaches and shows people how to live healthier lives. For the past five years, she has taught a graduate class for West Virginia University, attended mostly by local teachers, on making a health and happiness transformation.

Information from the class has evolved into a book, “Living by Design,” which she hopes to publish this year.

Last Monday night, McClead began an eight-week classroom instruction, open to the general public, at the Family Fitness Center on making healthy lifestyle changes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning this month, McClead is offering free exercise and instructional classes for Wood County Schools employees and Family Fitness Center members at the fitness center.

McClead said she hopes, in the not-too-distant future, to make a career change and make wellness and fitness her full-time job. Along this line, she has become a certified health/wellness/lifestyle coach.

McClead has been a fitness instructor since the early 1980s, teaching at the YWCA, YMCA and Family Fitness Center. She admits that she just began eating a healthier diet two years ago and has concentrated on teaching proper nutrition in the past year.

Her target audience is middle age people who have added about 50 pounds over the years. An issue in their lives, usually involving health, triggers the motivation to take her classes, McClead said.

“I love what I do,” McClead said about her healthy living program, which combines classroom instruction with exercise. “Fitness and health have always been a passion of mine.”

McClead wants to bring a warm weather exercise program to Parkersburg City Park, where she and other fitness instructors would get people exercising together one night a week. It could be the exercise equivalent to the popular Music Series in the Park on Thursday nights during the summer.

More information on McClead’s classes is available at www.healthy-livingbydesign.com.

Kim Coram has been working for years to get people moving and exercising – whether by hiking, biking, kayaking or other outdoor activities.

Coram, recently elected to Parkersburg City Council, is pleased with the response to the free hikes she has led this month. About a dozen people each Saturday afternoon have participated in family-friendly hikes at the Edison Middle School arboretum and the DuPont Nature Trail.

Today’s guided hike will be at Johnson T. Janes City Park, which is set to open this year, possibly in May. The group will meet at the McDonald’s on Seventh Street at 2 p.m. and then travel to the park.

The last hike in the January series will be Jan. 26 on a one-mile trail behind West Virginia University-Parkersburg. This will be a shorter hike because of the likelihood of colder weather, Coram said.

Coram finds January a great time to hike in the woods. “The leaves are off the trees and you can see so much more,” she said.

Coram chronicles outdoor activities in the Mid-Ohio Valley as editor of theopam.com, or The Online Physical Activity Magazine. “There is so much here for people to do,” she said.

Her busy outdoor schedule includes kayaking instruction in April and May and mountain biking instruction at North Bend State Park from April through September. She mapped the Mountwood Park trails in 2011.

As a member of the Parkersburg Bike Advisory Board, Coram and others are finalizing the application to send to the League of American Bicyclists next month seeking a designation of bike friendly community for Parkersburg.

Designations such as this help to convince people and businesses to move to Wood County, Coram said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com