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'Fittsburgh' Brings Health And Fitness To Market Square

90.5 WESA's Michael Lynch

When you think of Pittsburgh’s Market Square, yoga probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

But hundreds of people gathered at the downtown hotspot today to talk about health and fitness, as well as try their hand at a little downward-facing dog.

More than 30 local exhibitors set up shop in downtown Pittsburgh for the Pop Up Outdoor Wellness Fair, sharing information on farming, fitness and food.

This is the latest pop up project from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, in collaboration with the online magazine Fittsburgh.

Event organizer and Fittsburgh co-founder Joe Vennare is one of the top fitness professionals in the country. He said the goal is to connect the people of Pittsburgh to their regional fitness resources.

“It’s not running a marathon,” he said. “It’s not competing in a race. It’s moving and being healthier and increasing your day-to-day activities, so this is one opportunity to do that.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 27 percent of Pittsburgh adults are obese and more than 35 percent are overweight.

Pittsburghers also have higher than average rates of heart disease and diabetes, according to Vennare. He said the first step in reducing those numbers is making fitness accessible.

“You can’t have a strong community unless it’s a healthy community,” he said. “And we thought if we could connect that health component, we’re really bringing it full circle in Pittsburgh.”

Yoga instructor L.A. Finfinger led a free yoga class at the pop up project. She said Pittsburgh’s fitness community is catching up to their counterparts in New York and Los Angeles.

“We’re catching on slowly, but I think we’re catching on in a really huge way,” she said. “We have a huge yoga presence and now I’m starting to see that we have a really huge fitness presence too which is really inspiring.”

Vennare hopes this will be the first in a series of pop up wellness fairs.

“It’s not enough just to talk about health,” he said. “Health is there and it’s been done, but if we can do it in unique ways in unique venues around Pittsburgh, we think just getting people there … that goes a long way in helping them get healthy.”

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."