Middle Georgia fitness festival planned for September in Macon

Healthy eating and exercise for the whole family will be the top priority at the second annual Middle Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival.

This year’s theme -- “Together in Fitness” -- aims to motivate the health and well-being for every person in the community, young or old, said Charise Stephens, the festival’s founder and director.

“We (all) want a good life, a good quality of life,” Stephens said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon for the announcement. “And we can do it together in fitness.”

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert said the festival focuses on enhancing the quality of life of people in the community. It’s a mission, he said, the local government is dedicated to.

The fitness festival will take place Sept. 11-13.

Last year’s fitness celebrity Ernestine Shepherd, the world’s oldest performing bodybuilder at nearly 80, will be coming back to Middle Georgia for the event.

Shepherd’s return signals Macon’s commitment to being an AARP-certified “Age-Friendly Community,” Stephens said.

“She is an inspiration to me,” Stephens said of Shepherd. “I get up at 5 a.m. (to exercise) because she can get up at 4 a.m.”

The festival will kick off Friday, Sept. 11 with a luncheon and a fitness competition, which will include categories of Hottest Mom and Hottest Dad.

If competitive bodybuilding isn’t your style, Stephens said there will be something for everybody to enjoy, such as a hip-hop dance showcase, community gardening in Shalom Zones and chair aerobics for senior citizens.

For those who like to walk, there will be a nature hike at Ocmulgee National Monument and a community-led walk through Tattnall Square Park.

Churches also will be giving sermons on the link between a healthy body and a healthy spirit.

All events except the opening luncheon are free to the public.

“We’re trying to touch as many people as we possibly can,” Stephens said.

To learn more about the weekend’s festivities, click “like” on the Middle Georgia Wellness and Fitness Festival’s Facebook page.

To contact writer Conner Wood, call 744-4489.