September 28, 2022

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An effort to organize a first-time 5K race in downtown New Kensington has grown into what promises to be a multifaceted fitness festival dedicated to health, nutrition and wellness.
The NK 5K FitFEST will be Sunday, Sept. 4.
Cullen Maag, owner of BodyWork412 on Fifth Avenue, hopes the festival will educate, inspire and motivate. BodyWork412 is producing the event in partnership with the city.
“We have a plan to transform this downtown area into a gym and, hopefully, learn something,” Maag said.
New Kensington Mayor Tom Guzzo said it should be a great event.
“The combination of having fun and being educated on wellness by professionals from our area really makes the NK 5K FitFEST unique, and it’s something that everyone can enjoy and learn from,” he said. “Cullen does an excellent job of educating clients and promoting wellness at BodyWork412, and he will be able to use his background and experience for FitFEST.
“The city certainly supports his efforts and are happy to partner with him. I am certain it will be successful and fun.”
Maag, 42, a native of Colorado, has been in the Pittsburgh area for 15 years. A resident of New Kensington, he opened BodyWork412 in February 2021.
Working with him is project manager and yoga teacher Crystal Volpe, 46, of Bell Township.
“I’m really hoping we get people out there and get them moving, so they can see they don’t need to spend a lot of money to get the activity you need to make a lifestyle change and be a little healthier,” Volpe said.
They first approached the city about the event late last year and have been working on it all year, they said.
Volpe said they want to bring to the forefront ways people can move more, eat better and improve their quality of life.
“There should be plenty for every walk of life,” Maag said. “We’re excited to bring this to the city. A lot of hard work and passion is going into it.”
The 5K will start at 9 a.m., with the fitness festival following from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities will span Fourth and Fifth avenues between 11th and Ninth streets. BodyWork412 is at 1009 Fifth Ave.
The course, in the downtown business area, is flat and on asphalt.
The 5K has divisions for walking, running, and rucking.
Rucking is walking or hiking while carrying a weight on the back. It has military origins, and the name comes from “rucksack,” a backpack meant for carrying heavy loads. For the 5K, the division will require backpack weights of at least 20 pounds for men and 10 pounds for women.
Registration for the 5K costs $25 online through 6 p.m. Sept. 3. Registration on the day of the race, beginning at 8 a.m., will be $30. Children 11 and younger can participate for free, and there is a $5 discount for groups of four or more.
Maag said they had almost 60 5K participants registered, and he anticipates having about 100 in total.
After the race, the fitness festival will include yoga workshops and challenges, rucking and physical training challenges, and grappling expositions.
Other participants include AngelWing Yoga & Wellness, Anytime Fitness, the Steel City Ruck Club, Only Eye Athletics and The Mat Factory.
Attendees will be able to experience a “sound bath” at AngelWing, which is two doors down from BodyWork412. Maag said it involves laying down while gongs, singing bowls, drums and cymbals are played.
“They’re very intense,” he said. “You can feel it in your soul.”
Registration for the 5K includes the race, entry for three challenges, one yoga workshop, a “swag bag” and a beer for adult finishers.
Challenges without race entry, or racers who want an additional try, are $10 each. Yoga workshops are $5 each, with free public group classes. Tickets for the sound bath will be $10 and sold that day.
Maag said his goal is to make FitFEST an annual event.
“It’s a lot of work getting this first year up and going,” he said. “We’re all watching to see how this does.”
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian by email at brittmeyer@triblive.com or via Twitter .
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