While many Michigan residents are looking forward to enjoying the upcoming holiday buffets, the Department of Natural Resources is already planning to help them take off those ensuing extra holiday pounds.

The DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division is gearing up its 2013 outdoor programming to motivate residents to stay in shape by spending more of their workout time outside in Michigan’s parks and recreation areas. Along with the continuation of its nationally recognized Recreation 101 program, the division is partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Michigan Recreation & Park Association to add a new Fresh Air Fitness program to its stay-in-shape offerings.

“We know that Michigan is among the most obese states in the nation, but with more than 100 state parks and more than 12,000 miles of trails, there’s no excuse not to resolve to get fresh air fit,” said DNR recreation programmer Maia Stephens.

The division currently is seeking experienced volunteer program guides from across the state for its year-round Recreation 101 programs as well as instructors for its new Fresh Air Fitness program set to run between April 15 and Oct. 1.

The DNR’s ongoing Recreation 101 programs, which began in 2011, take place at Michigan state parks, recreation areas and boating facilities across the state and consist of free, introductory lessons to acquaint novice outdoor enthusiasts with the skills and knowledge to get them started in a new activity or sport.

In prior years, lessons have included more than 50 different outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, paddling, horseback riding, geocaching, birding and trail running. The course offerings are only limited by the particular skills and interests of the participating instructors.

Volunteer instructors should have a passion for the outdoors and a desire to share their recreation knowledge and skills. Along with individuals who are proficient in their particular field, ideal guides would be outfitters, retailers or brand representatives who can provide hands-on sample gear for students to try.

Incorporating physical fitness into the great outdoors uses all the senses and connects the body and mind. Programs such as yoga, Pilates, tai chi or aquatic fitness advance to a whole new level when surrounded by nature.

The Parks and Recreation Division is seeking instructors interested in taking their fitness programs outdoors as well as recreational group leaders willing to organize weekly outings such mountain biking trips or canoe or kayaking trips. A commercial use permit required for Fresh Air Fitness instructors is an annual $50 fee per instructor or organization. The instructor can then charge participants a fee of fair market value.

For more information on the opportunities available for Recreation 101 volunteer instructors or Fresh Air Fitness instructors or to sign up, contact Maia Stephens at 989-225-8573 or stephensm3@michigan.gov to be connected with a regional recreation programmer who can assist with scheduling and marketing in 2013.

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $10* Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at www.expresssos.com or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. In addition, Recreation Passport holders can experience real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program. The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore*Starting Jan. 2, 2013, the purchase price of the Recreation Passport is $11 for Michigan residents.

Michigan DNR

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