D.C. City Councilmember Yvette M. Alexander is getting fit this year and she doesn’t want to do it alone.  

“I am encouraging all of Ward 7, young and old, to stand up to the challenge and join me as I strive to create a healthier Ward 7!” the councilwoman declared, launching her “Let’s Get Fit and Healthy Ward 7” campaign.  

Obesity, which is linked to a host of devastating illnesses including diabetes and heart disease, hits poor neighborhoods the hardest. Wards 7 and 8 have the highest rates of poverty and obesity in the District at 36 percent, according to D.C. Hunger Solutions, a nonprofit agency that specializes in food and nutrition issues. Only eight percent of white D.C. residents are obese, compared to 31 percent of black residents.  

The two wards have also long suffered from a serious shortage of full service grocery stores and other places to shop for healthy food. The long-awaited arrival of a new Giant Food supermarket last year in Southeast, near the Congress Heights Metro Station was widely praised as a step in the right direction.  

And a new ‘Yes! Organic Market’ at 2323 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. helped Alexander launch her commitment to a strict diet and rigorous fitness program in this new year 

“Along with Yes! Organic Market, I issued a challenge to every resident of Ward 7 to lead a healthier lifestyle by exercising and eating better,” said Alexander at her recent announcement. “The challenge wasn’t easy at first, but my personal trainer is guiding me on a path to fitness and better health.”  

She said her attention to her own health began paying off right away.  

“I am already experiencing the benefits and have no problem falling to sleep at night,” reported the councilmember. “And my last meal of the day, dinner is much lighter than it used to be which definitely helps me sleep better.”  

Alexander is getting assistance in her Get Fit campaign from area fitness professionals and organizations eager to increase access to wellness programs in Ward 7. And even for those without access to a personal trainer, there will be plenty of help available.  

Clarence Duhart, a boot camp fitness instructor has donated a week of free training to those who are interested. Sarianne Leigh at the Benning Road Library will help provide fitness information in planning a personal program. And the city’s new Deanwood Recreation Center, located at 1350 49th St. NE offers a state of the art, 63,000-square foot facility a swimming pool, fitness center and athletic courts.  

“I want people to know that we can maximize the use of the new facility at Deanwood,” said Alexander. The Councilmember’s own workout routine includes but is not limited to 200 bicycle crunches, three sets of side shoulder lifts and walking 10 minutes on the treadmill. She is also doing an hour of cardio, daily, with each session comprised of 20 minutes on the bike; 20 on the treadmill; and 20 on the elliptical machine.