Health Options is Transforming and Improving Individual and Community Health across Maine

How this nonprofit member-led health plan is building a culture of wellness from within

December 22, 2023

An organization can spark change when they lead by example. And that’s exactly what Health Options is doing. 

With a steadfast focus on the wellbeing of members and communities in Maine, Health Options believes that meaningful partnerships are the only way to bring about change. 

One of those partnerships is the one forged with National Fitness Campaign – formed to combat a global health crisis – which by 2035 estimates that 51% of the world’s population, or 4 billion people, will be overweight or obese* (World Obesity Federation). 

Health Options and NFC partnered in September 2021 to reverse that alarming statistic, improve quality of life and build a wellness culture in communities throughout Maine. To date, the Health Options campaign has established six public-private investment partners resulting in over $400,000 in funding, creating free, healthy infrastructure for more than 40,000 residents.

Leading the way in Lewiston

The city of Lewiston became the first city in Maine to welcome a Health Options Fitness Court® in September 2022 at Simard-Payne Memorial Park. This location was selected as a focal point to promote social interaction, pedestrian movement and healthy living. Situated near the riverwalk, and connected by pedestrian trails, the Fitness Court® enhances the healthy infrastructure in Lewiston, bringing people outdoors and away from sedentary habits. 

Given that the corporate headquarters office is just blocks away from the Fitness Court®, Health Options incorporated this launch into a company-wide event with more than 150 employees, highlighting and educating the important work the organization does with its employee and community relationships.

“This outdoor Fitness Court® complements Simard-Payne Memorial Park nicely and is an exciting addition to our riverwalk and downtown. I appreciate Health Options and National Fitness Campaign for making this possible and for their commitment to Lewiston,” said Lewiston Mayor Carl L. Sheline at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Christopher Glover, an instructor at the YMCA in Auburn-Lewiston, plans to begin Fitness Court® classes and programming in the spring of 2023. As an official Fitness Court® Ambassador, Christopher is excited to utilize the Fitness Court® as an extension of the YMCA to promote motivation and inspiration to his current and future clients. 

Glover sees Fitness Court® classes as an anchor within the community to emphasize movement in a group setting that builds a wellness culture for residents looking to stay active. He hopes residents are encouraged to walk, jog or cycle to meet up for a full bodyweight workout at the Fitness Court®.

All Fitness Courts® are supported by a free-to-download mobile application, The Fitness Court® App, which offers world-class workouts and acts like a coach in your pocket, serving up fun ways to stay fit while enjoying fresh air, sunshine, and a healthy workout outdoors.

Hampden joins the Campaign

The town of Hampden launched the second Health Options Fitness Court® at the VFW Park and Field with plans to incorporate the Fitness Court® into its existing teen and adult wellness offerings in the spring of 2023 – from senior walking and fitness classes to the local high school and recreational programming. 

Fitness instructors from the Bangor Region YMCA came out to the launch event last September to demonstrate various exercises that can be performed on the Fitness Court with plans to also incorporate free wellness programming into their classes for 2023.

Hampden Town Manager, Paula Scott, joined in the launch event and shared in the excitement that this investment is a win-win for everybody whether they reside in or outside the town of Hampden. 

Future for Mainers and Free Outdoor Fitness

Change begins when leaders present solutions. Bringing the campaign to life results in equity and community access to wellness opportunities, improving quality of life and bringing joy to thousands of people across Maine. 

“Health Options is committed to the health and wellbeing of Maine people. This initiative is just one part of that commitment, which includes making fitness opportunities free and accessible to help build healthy communities,” said Kevin Lewis, president and chief executive officer of Health Options.

Learn more and join the Health Options campaign in Maine so every Mainer can have access to a healthier life.