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Salvation Army promotes fitness with Wellness for All program

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 10:16 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Brackenridge Salvation Army Capt. Rickie Armour leads the exercise class in the Wellness For All program on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

A month ago, Brian Hoscheid shuffled into the Salvation Army Allegheny Valley's gym to take his first aerobics class.

Now, the Natrona resident is high kicking his way to being more fit.

“I used to walk like this,” Hoscheid, 49, said as he showed how he could barely lift his feet before taking the class. “Now I can get my legs all the way up.

“I'm on a diet for diabetes and high cholesterol,” he added, wiping sweat from his brow. “Combined with this class, I've already lost three pounds.”

Hoscheid is one of about five regulars who gather at the gym every Tuesday and Thursday to take the class taught by the church's commanding officer, Capt. Rickie Armour.

Armour started the class about three months ago in connection with the National Salvation Army's “Wellness For All” initiative to combat obesity.

“I looked around the community and saw there were a lot of people who could benefit from a class like this,” Armour said. “We believe in keeping the body, mind and spirit right for God.

“Our body is a temple and in order to serve God, we have to keep it fit.”

Armour, an avid runner, said the class also gives him an opportunity to get in a workout during the day.

“I work all kind of crazy hours,” he said. “Sometimes work doesn't let me get in a workout. So, the class allows me that opportunity, too.”

Armour said the corps also works on getting children active through sports and offers annual health screenings.

While Armour leads the way for the class, he makes sure to keep his spiritual nature on full display.

“Get your hands up for Jesus,” Armour often says while doing a reaching exercise, before exclaiming “Amen” to end the exercise.

Freeport resident Sally McAninch, 62, has been attending the class with her cousin Georgetta Field, 65, since its inception. “I have MS and this helps me,” she said. “I've noticed a lot of improvement in my walking.”

Gloria Johns, 54, of Freeport said she started taking the class because of health problems.

“My doctor told me I needed to get more exercise, so I asked the captain,” she said. “Capt. Armour really cares about us and helps us. He's a great leader.”

Armour said the class is open to anyone in the community who wants to attend.

“Today was my first class,” said Kevin Bresuciak, 38, of Tarentum. “I'm trying to get in better shape. This is great.”

Field said she hopes Bresuciak is just the first of many newcomers to the group.

“We welcome anyone who wants to join us,” she said.

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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