As a fitness coach and a mother, Melissa Monteforte of Locust Valley knows how important it is to stay healthy, and how difficult it can be for women to make themselves, and their health, a priority. Wanting to help women take charge and feel more in control, she organized the Fit & Healthy Mamas Annual 5K run, now in its third year, which took place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
“I felt like running was the best outlet when I became a mother; it’s such a great way to get fit and feel healthy and I wanted to share that with other moms,” says Monteforte, 31. “I wanted women to feel celebrated, no matter their fitness level, and to put their health first.”
Her enthusiasm and dedication has proven to rub off on other women in New Hyde Park. Since the event began two years ago with about 100 runners, it has more than tripled in size, with an expected 350 participants this year. Monteforte, who is a health/fitness coach, puts the event together herself every year. She thankfully has the help of friends and social media, and the praise of other moms who spread the word to their friends and family.
She explains that most moms think of September as the unofficial “new year” since the kids are back at school and routines start back up again. She considers the Fit & Healthy
Mamas 5k a “great opportunity for women to get back on their fitness regimen, accomplish a goal, and feel healthy.” As a mother of two young children (ages 4 and 18 months),
Monteforte knows the challenges of trying to fit it all in. But she also believes that when moms take better care and make their health a priority, “everybody wins.” Her vision was to create a day where women could let go of the “mom jobs” and put themselves first…no matter how long it takes to cross the finish line.
“It’s the most amazing day,” says Monteforte. “I get emails from women telling me how inspirational it was. It’s really not your average 5K, as we try to make it really special. It’s a celebration of women, and very family-oriented.”
She adds, “I think it’s super important for moms to also lead by example. Kids follow by your own actions, not just by what you say. So that is why we have a ton of free activities to keep the kids busy while moms running.”
Some of the activities for the kids this year include yoga and dance fitness classes, face painting and a crafts table. Plus, they’ll have food and drinks, a DJ, raffles, and a Health &
Wellness & Beauty area. Monteforte will present a special award called the “Be Brave” Award; the winner will be announced after the race.
“It’s to honor a woman who has had to endure a difficult time and has shown true strength and determination throughout,” explains Monteforte.
A portion of the proceeds go to Girls on the Run of Nassau County and Every Mother Counts. The fee is $30. Visit www.fitandhealthyny.com