Bergenfield Mayor Does Zumba, Inspires Others To Exercise

BERGENFIELD, N.J. -- The Mayor of Bergenfield took home the state wellness prize, thanks to his entry at a municipal conference that gave the town a shot at a health grant.

Bergenfield Mayor Norman Schmelz with New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute staff at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference.

Bergenfield Mayor Norman Schmelz with New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute staff at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference.

Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

The 2016 Mayors Wellness Campaign Wellness Grant was awarded to Bergenfield for its focus on community activities designed to help residents live healthier lives. 

From weight loss challenges to the annual 5K to Zumba classes, Bergenfield offers residents an array of healthy choices all year around. 

The Mayors Healthy Living Challenge is an eight-week program that includes free workshops, exercise class, fitness trials, health and fitness guidance, raffles and prizes. Mayor Norman Schmelz said one resident eventually lost 75 pounds.

Schmelz participates in many of the activities himself, including the runs and fitness programs.

“I have two left feet but when it comes to Zumba, I am out there with everybody,” Schmelz said. “People can say, ‘I Zumba’d with the mayor.’ ”

The $1,000 grant was given to Schmelz by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s Mayors Wellness Campaign, a statewide community health initiative in partnership with the New Jersey State League of Municipalities. 

Each year at the New Jersey State League of Municipalities conference, mayors are encouraged to enter their business cards into a raffle drawing for this wellness grant opportunity.

“We are proud to highlight the exciting programming taking place in Bergenfield,” said Deborah Levine, Director of Community Health at the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “Under the leadership of Mayor Schmelz, Bergenfield is finding creative ways to champion healthy and active living, which are the goals of the Mayors Wellness Campaign.”

Bergenfield also participates in the Bergen County Conversation of Your Life task force, which engages communities in dialogue to let residents' friends, families and physician understand and respect their end-of-life wishes through advance care planning. The Conversation of Your Life informational video can be found here.

The town’s efforts are supported by local businesses, such as Bodyworks, the Blue Dragon School of Marital Arts, the Bergenfield Academy of Martial Arts and Heavenly Waters. Schmelz also works closely with the town’s health office on Mayors Wellness Campaign programming.

Schmelz said he will use the grant to support prizes and programming for the Mayor’s Healthy Living Challenge. He is a cheerleader for healthy living who shows up at high school sporting events and other school events trying to combat childhood obesity. He also leads by example and at age 53 he plays deck hockey with players half his age.

“If I can do something to keep people healthier I will,” he said. “I like to be out there in the community also encouraging our kids and adults to be active and healthy. I see it as part of my job as Mayor of Bergenfield.”

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