Fitness instructor offers workout incentive for food drive participants

Julie Woldow is at her Penn Valley home for the holidays, and in addition to festivities, she enjoyed a free excercise boot camp class the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 30 because she donated canned goods to Performance Fitness trainer Michelle Collier's cause.

"Michelle has been my family's trainer for a few years now, and during a recent visit she gave me a flyer for this food drive she's having," said the 29-year-old, who excercised during Collier's class at the All Saint's Church in Wynnewood. "I thought it was a great a cause, and you get fitness classes out of it."

Woldow, visiting from her current residence in Anchorage, Alaska, took advantage of Collier's third annual Get Your Can to Class Food Drive,which allows individuals in the Main Line and Philadelphia areas to bring can donations in exchange for up to three classes.

Collier, owner of the mobile personal fitness business, is offering the workout deal from now until Friday, Dec. 23, when the drive ends.

"It's a way to give back, and helping an organization like Philabundance is part of Performance Fitness's core values," said Collier.

On Wednesay, Dec. 28, Collier and volunteers among her clientele will take all proceeds to the hunger relief organization, Philabundance, and volutneer to help the food bank with that day's distribution efforts.

Philabundance organizers said they feed about 65,000 people per week. Director of Development Marianne Lynch said that the agency has seen an 26 percent increase in need since last year.

Lynch said that numerous drives for the organization occur annually, but that the holiday season is typically when the most food drives occur. She said on average, that there are more than 100 food drives going on simultaneous throughout December.

"For us to be able to spread awareness in the Main Line is huge," Lynch said. "We are really appreciate it when we can acquire food from a cause like this."

Philabundance was the beneficiary of the more than 350 pounds of food collected when the drive first began two years ago. Last year, Collier wanted to give the proceeds of the drive to a more local organization, so she donated the 2010 canned food collection to the Ardmore Food Pantry.

 Collier has also divided current clients into two teams – the squashes and the beets. Although Collier hasn't named a grant prize for the winning team, she said she added this component of the drive to promote competition, and motivate clients to contribute.

"It's charity, and I try to make sure we have a charitable push at least once every quarter," Collier said. "It's important for me to do that kind of work."

Woldow, a beet, brought two cans to today's class. Alicia Kopp, 48, has been working out with Collier for two years. In addition to placing a few cans in the squash team's plastic donation bin, Kopp, a Wynnewood resident on the squash team, also attended Collier's kick off day for the drive on Friday, Nov. 25, called the Turkey Buster Workout.

"There was a great turn out," Kopp said. "It was great to see a lot of people here, especially since this drive is about improving the lives of others, especially those having a challenging time meeting their family's food and security needs."

Colier said the amount of food she carried from the 27 people at the kick-off was close to 200 pounds. She said 500 pounds minimum was her goal for this drive.

"It's modest compared to what others do, but that's still 500 pounds more than what most do," Collier said."I hope we continue to build more and more from the amount we collect as we continue this drive in the future."

Director of Development Lynch said any food donation is a good donation.

"Personally, anyone willing to conduct a food drive for us is incredible generous, and 500 pounds of food is amazing," Lynch added.