NEW PORT RICHEY — David Branco is head coach of the boys junior varsity basketball team at Hudson High. But for an hour Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, Branco leads an outdoor exercise class that includes running, jumping and stretching. But, the class participants aren’t basketball players, rather, local adults, ranging in age from their 20s to late 50s.
The group meets at 6:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Salvation Army on Ridge Road. With nothing more than a padded mat and a water bottle, each member takes his/her place on the asphalt. Most arrive a few minutes early to warm up, while the sunrise is still about an hour away.
Fast-paced music signals that class is about to begin. Branco and co-leader Julie Hamilton call out exercise and motivational instructions and motivational snippets and the hour-long routine covers the upper and lower body and core. For Branco and Hamilton, the classes are a labor of love.
“We inspire and motivate others,” said Branco, 49. “Most adults in the community don’t have time to exercise regularly and, as a result, the pounds get added on. We get them healthier through exercise and proper nutrition. Plus, we keep it simple and fun.”
In keeping it simple and fun, there is no cost to participate and no equipment is required.
“Our goal is to have 2,000 Pasco County residents joining us to exercise regularly,” said Hamilton, 30. “Exercise groups like this are springing up all over the country and we wanted to get it started here.”
Branco and Hamilton have the participants working, as most need time to catch their breath before heading to their cars.
“I’m here to get fit and take off the pounds for the holidays,” said Natalie Earley, 57. “This starts my day with more energy and a better attitude.”
Holly Fritts, 41, agrees.
“I’ve lost 20 pounds since September,” Fritts said. “Plus, I want my daughter to learn healthy habits so she can also lose weight.”
Branco is thankful for those who attend, especially as he leads the class with a smile and positive attitude.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others,” Branco said. “I also want to thank the Salvation Army for allowing us to use their parking lot. They saw we wanted to do something good for the community.”
A new four-week class will begin Jan. 7 and a 6:30 p.m. class is also being planned.
For more information, contact Branco at (727) 214-8616 or (352) 263-0093.