Los Angeles will join Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Honolulu, Miami, Newark and Sacramento as the eighth major U.S. metropolitan area to implement Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness, a program of free workshops and exercise classes to be offered at local parks that was unveiled last week in Sylmar.
Coca-Cola donated $192,500 to the City of Los Angeles for the program, which aims to bolster the city’s health and fitness initiatives for youth and families by utilizing the expertise of local veterans.
As part of a three-year grant, the Coca-Cola Troops for Fitness program will offer workshops and classes instructed by military veterans at parks and community centers managed by the Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks. The program will also provide employment for veterans, who will lead the exercise programs including boot camps, golf clinics, cardio and strength training classes, running groups, yoga, swim classes, and hiking workouts.
Coca-Cola, and other carbonated soda producers, have been accused the past several years of making products that are counterproductive to good health. Critics of Coke in particular claim the soft drink through its ingredient of phosphoric acid, can dissolve enamel in teeth and calcium in bones. And other ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and caffeine could — if consumed in large enough amounts — increase risks of obesity and diabetes for children.
L.A. City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes (District 7) defended the program and Coca-Cola’s support.
“The Troops for Fitness program will help reinforce my commitment to making physical activity programs and nutrition education in our neighborhoods a continued high priority,” Fuentes said in a released statement.
“This program is a critical added component to creating and sustaining healthier communities. It teaches community members that a healthier lifestyle is fun. More importantly, Troops for Fitness creates meaningful employment opportunities for our veterans to help them reconnect with our community members.”
The fitness programs will begin at Penmar Recreation Center in Venice, South Los Angeles Sports Activity Center, Shadow Ranch in West Hills, and Lincoln Park Recreation Center near downtown Los Angeles. Additional centers will be added as more veterans are hired to lead participants in fitness programs.
Michael Shull, assistant general manager of the L.A. City Department of Recreation and Parks, said they are “grateful to our military veterans and Coca-Cola for their continued support to our city and the communities that we serve,” and “are looking forward to promoting healthy lifestyles to Angelenos of all ages.”
The Troops for Fitness program should be available in a dozen Los Angeles communities by 2016, according to Coca-Cola executives.
Los Angeles city officials plan to hire at least 18 veterans to the program in the first three years. They are primarily looking for military veterans with instructing experience at the high school, collegiate, and/or professional level in one or more of the following areas: Aerobics, Aquatics, Boot Camp, Dance, Hiking, Nutrition, Self Defense, Yoga, or any other related physical fitness or nutritional instruction.
The classes will be open to kids and adults. To find out about the hours and classes available, visit www.laparks.org.