Ann Eich knew she could prove the Indiana University Health Fresh & Fit Program wrong. After all, the 4’11” former roller derby skater had tried for years to boost her low metabolism, but always to no avail. When the people at IU Health said Fresh & Fit could help, she was certain they would eat their words.
After 10 weeks, not only did her metabolism improve but she also lowered her cholesterol, blood pressure and A1C, all through a process that IU Health Guest Relations, Volunteer Services and Community Outreach Director Joy Davis describes as “healthy lifestyle changes that can lead to improved quality of life.”
Eich, who introduces herself as “Tiny,” isn’t the only one getting great results. A 2019 post-program assessment showed that the average participant lost 14 pounds, 60% of participants lowered their cholesterol, and 70% of those with unhealthy A1C levels improved them.
All from an IU Health program presented free to community members, whether or not they are IU Health patients. Offered in Hamilton, Hendricks and Tipton counties, the program is supported by IU Health Indianapolis Suburban Region community health dollars — dollars that could go further with philanthropic support.
“If we had a donor who was interested in supporting Fresh & Fit, it would allow us to change more lives and reach more people, potentially throughout the state,” Davis said. “Philanthropy allows us to reach deeper in our communities, doing more and having greater impact.”
A 10-week program offered through MAX Challenge of Fishers, Fresh & Fit accepts a limited number of participants each year, attracting them through Facebook and word of mouth, and choosing those who have clear health needs and a commitment to improving their health. It has attracted hundreds of applicants each year since it began in 2018, and this year expanded to accept up to 225 people for virtual fitness classes, nutrition plans and regular support from IU Health team members and MAX Challenge trainers.
Though Eich had her doubts, that winning combination of resources changed her life — and now, she goes out of her way to spread the word about the program.
“I set out to prove Fresh & Fit wrong,” Eich said. “Now I try and inspire others to do the same thing that I did.”
If you’d like to help Fresh & Fit expand statewide, contact IU Health Foundation Senior Development Officer Leigh Ann Erickson at 317.373.0142.