VIDEO: HEAT shakes things up

Chris Omni and group members of the HEAT wellness program meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 pm and Saturday at 7 am on the corner of 21st and Washburn. On days that are hotter than 95 degrees, the group meets in Lee Arena.

Tricia Peterson / Washburn Review / Video By: Bradley Parrales, Washburn Review

In this heat it is hard to get the motivation to stay fit and exercise regularly, but a workout group called “The Heat” helps motivate regardless of weather.

The group has been meeting since May and will continue to meet until January on the southeast corner of Washburn’s campus on 21st and Washburn Avenue. If the temperature raises above 95 degrees, they move it inside.

Focusing on health and wellness as well as education is what makes the Wellness Information Network (WIN), unique.

Chris Omni, creator of WIN, has the mission to educate the community about health and wellness, motivate participants to pursue wellness, and to celebrate the accomplishments of participants. She started about 10 years ago doing group exercise and personal training which lead her to lecturing about health and wellness at Washburn in the Kinesiology department.

“I went from group exercise to loving that so much that I wanted to work with people one-on-one, hence the interest in personal training,” said Omni. “I loved the group exercise, but got tired of that, really focused on personal training, got tired of personal training, then got into lectures. So it’s all been health and wellness promotion since 2002, I started working here on campus in the Kinesiology department in 2004. Anything involving education and motivation seems to be a natural fit for me.”

In April 2012 Omni was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, which is a form of facial paralysis resulting from a dysfunction of the cranial nerve VII that results in the inability to control facial muscles on the affected side.

“It really knocked me on my butt,” said Omni. “I had a shooting pain in my head, [that] started in the back and moved to the front. My lip was drooping, my eyes were drooping and I couldn’t close my eyes.”

With all of this going on with Omni’s health, she was still mainly worried about the Heat because it had just started on April 10.She didn’t want to let the group members down, no matter what. She even asked her husband to let her go, but her doctor insisted she went to the ER to get help.

“When people finally make the commitment to exercise, just one little bump in the road will throw them off, I didn’t want to be that bump in the road,” said Omni. “Even though I had my own medical situation, I did not want to stop coming to the Heat.”

Some would lose hope, but Omni used the extra time she needed to recover, to her advantage. She was able to decide the direction she wanted to go with WIN and the Heat.

“So having this time off, worrying about Bell’s Palsy, worrying about what’s going on with everyone else, this was a good time to really focus on a direction,” said Omni. “Not just group exercise, personal training or lecturing and really putting this all together, and really realizing people need encouragement, people like the family atmosphere, and they like the education.”

With all that had happened, a family atmosphere developed within the group and people Omni hardly knew, took over, stepped up, and helped make it happen.

“When I wasn’t there someone else from The Heat was able to come through and lead walking groups for me,” said Omni. “People were checking in with me, making sure that I was ok, and these were people I had only known for three weeks.”

This is one of the things that makes WIN and The Heat unique.

“It’s a really fun group, and it’s never like ‘Oh my god I have to go work out,’ it’s actually enjoyable,” said Jennifer Caine, Topeka resident who has been coming to the workouts. “Everyone kind of cheers each other on, and Chris being so good with people and outgoing, she makes sure everybody knows everybody’s name. It’s kind of like a family now, so now we are just trying to add and get people to come be a part of it to get healthy.”

The workout group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7 a.m. Check out their Facebook page for more information and if you “Like” and become friends with WIN you can check their page for what activity will be featured at that days workout.