Local doctor leads free lunchtime workouts

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- There are more gyms than ever in Charlottesville, but joining one is more than a time commitment. It can get downright pricey.

One local doctor is aiming to take cost out of the exercise equation.

Dr. Martin Katz holds a free outdoor lunchtime workout just blocks from the Downtown Mall at the corner of Sixth and Garrett streets, in a field behind Friendship Court.

As a family and sports medicine specialist, Katz says holding these free workouts are part of his mission of promoting health in the community.

“It helps with diabetic control, weight control,” he said. “There's been studies on dementia, studies on depression, anxiety. [For] just about any chronic disease, exercise will be of benefit."

Katz started these free workouts about two years ago, and he's hoping the number of participants will climb as word gets out.

“I’d love the community close by here to come and join,” he said. “Oftentimes they don't have the resources to join a gym, so again, something free. Why not?”

Katz says the workouts are short, typically about 15 to 20 minutes. And he'll modify the intensity or moves so they’re appropriate for people of any fitness level.

"When I started this two years ago, I was doing a modified plank, a modified pushup, a modified side plank,” he said. “And that's what we encourage people. This is long term health."

Colleen Betker has been coming to the free workouts for about a year, and she says the benefits have been both physical and mental.

"I have a daughter with severe autism so this is a good stress relief,” she said. “And I like seeing these guys on a regular basis. It’s social to come work out."

Katz says it won't take long for anyone to feel the benefits of regular exercise.

"You're going to feel stronger, and who doesn't like to feel stronger? You're going to be getting up stairs more easily. You're going to be getting up out of a chair more easily, walking up a hill more easily. You're going to have more energy," he said.

There’s no registration required to participate. The workouts start around 12:50 p.m. at the corner of Sixth and Garrett streets from Tuesday to Friday. Participants should wear comfortable clothes and bring water. Friday is yoga.

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