Fitness program will continue, with changes

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LEWISTON — HealthSteps isn’t going away just yet.

After hearing from people upset that St. Mary’s Health System was ending the popular fitness program at the end of 2014, officials have decided to see whether they can save parts of the program, according to a spokeswoman.

HealthSteps had offered yoga, track, aquatic fitness, racquetball and other programs in several sessions per year, many of them at Bates College’s Merrill Gymnasium.

“We will be meeting with key constituents (next week) to identify areas of the program that are most important to them and find a way to sustain those programs, whether it’s through St. Mary’s or someone else in the community,” Jennifer Radel said Wednesday. “We received a lot of feedback from loyal participants regarding the change which led us to re-evaluate the program, but it cannot be sustained in its current form.”

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Declining membership was cited when the hospital made the initial announcement in early December. Radel said 351 people participated in 2014.

Many, including Dick Houle of Lewiston, were retirees who had been hoping St. Mary’s would reconsider.

“I’m really happy,” he said.

Last week, Houle received a letter that read, in part:

“Dear HealthSteps member, 

WE HEARD YOU.”

It mentions limited winter programing that “will allow members to continue to exercise on a regular basis with support from some of the instructors you have come to know and trust.”

Program organizers will reach out to participants once new details and a schedule are worked out, Radel said.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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