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Summer Fitness at Canalside program continues to grow

If you’re going to keep a workout regimen during the summer, you might as well do so in a beautiful setting – and it might as well be free.

That was the thinking of more than 11,000 people who participated in 13 classes this season during Fitness at Canalside. BlueCross Blue Shield added a dozen group fitness classes this year to the Zumba offerings of last year, putting more bustle onto the busy boardwalk and neighboring grassy patch.

“It exceeded all of our expectations,” said Moira Giammaresi, corporate relations specialist for BlueCross BlueShield, about the effort she has led during the last couple of years.

Q. What were the most popular classes?

Power yoga was probably the most popular. What better way to experience a yoga class than right next to the water on a grassy field? Pound fitness was a really fun one; you work out with drumsticks. Barre Centric was a huge one. And Zumba, our favorite. Those four reached at least 250 people or more on some weeks. That was weather dependent.

Q. How did Muay Thai and cardio kickboxing go? They’re a little bit different.

There were several that were different. Tai chi was another one. They ended up usually having about 30 people, which was nice. It ended up being a more intimate class where you got to experience it closer to your instructor, really enjoy it. The kickboxing, same kind of thing. It gave people an opportunity to try things they might not. When there’s a cost of trying these things you may not be as apt to go out and do it. All you had to do was show up. You could try it for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or do the whole hour.

Q. What in your mind were some of the most underrated classes?

One that was really fun was Exercise Like the Animals. That was for children and grew steadily throughout the summer. … There were some classes where there were about five and the classes ended up averaging 30. One class had 53. Hula hooping was a lot of fun. That was something where we saw a lot of people coming down. The same for the family yoga class.

Q. How will BlueCross BlueShield inspire its members to keep their exercise regimens during the fall, winter and spring?

Going into the winter, we present the ice skating at Canalside and offer a dollar off to our members if you show your Blue card. We also sponsor the Healthy Zone rink in East Aurora. HarborCenter, you get a discount at the rinks there if you show your card. And we do member skates for our members at First Niagara Center so you get to skate where the Sabres skate. (See more at

– Scott Scanlon