Natasha Federico (left) and Zhane Roberts, co-owners of Renaissance Fitness in Savannah
Natasha Federico (left) and Zhane Roberts, co-owners of Renaissance Fitness in Savannah

Health, Wellness and Fitness in Savannah

Start right where you are to make this a summer of taking action toward your fitness goals.

Paris, France will be buzzing with Olympic athletes this summer, but don't worry about missing your shot at the podium. Here in Savannah, there are tons of ways to get active, embrace your inner champion, and prioritize your wellbeing. Here, we discover resources that will make you feel like a winner on your own personal health and wellness journey.

Staying healthy can be tough in some states, especially when you consider things like chronic illness, unhealthy habits, a lack of healthy options, and substance abuse. A 2024 Forbes Advisor study looked at all 50 states and found Georgia isn't exactly topping the charts for health.

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Forbes Advisor State ranking is determined by 21 metrics spanning three key categories: disease risk factors and prevalence, substance abuse and lifestyle habits, and health outlook. To see the overall rank and two of the metrics considered, visit https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/states-ranked-least-healthy-populations/
Coach TT, owner of Pressure Health and Fitness, who is certified in personal training and nutrition by the International Sports Sciences Association, started her health and wellness journey in 2018.
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Coach TT, owner of Pressure Health and Fitness in Savannah
“My family really had some health challenges. I had a sister diagnosed with lupus at an early age. A lot of the women in my family suffered from thyroid issues. It really pushed me to just want to take care of my body more,” said Coach TT.

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Natasha Federico, co-owner of Renaissance Fitness
This was similar for Natasha Federico, a former athlete, certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and co-owner of Renaissance Fitness, who noticed a pattern of health challenges in herself and her family.

“I have PCOS [polycystic ovary syndrome], and doctors only know how to maintain it. My mom dealt with it, and we noticed thyroid problems. My mom was an EMS and paramedic and has always been in the health and medical industry, and we did a lot of research on some of the problems and ways to be better,” said Federico.

Diving into the data, Georgia's score of 61.9 [100 being the least healthy; 0 being the most] on the Forbes Advisor health ranking is reflected in higher rates of chronic conditions. Heart disease seems to be a particular concern, with around 185 deaths per 100,000 residents. Additionally, more than 11 percent of Georgia adults have diabetes.

“I started taking health and wellness very seriously at a young age. I have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. History showed in my family that some died at a younger age and were not living a healthy life. Seeing that at a very young age definitely made me health conscious and motivated me to do better,” said Zhane Roberts, a former athlete and co-owner of Renaissance Fitness.
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Zhane Roberts, co-owner of Renaissance Fitness


According to the
World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for noncommunicable disease mortality. People who are insufficiently active have a 20 to 30 percent increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active.

“I want people to look at the physical and nutrition sides, but nothing is going to work the same across the board. The chemistry and mechanics of your body are different from mine and everyone else,” said Federico.

While there is no one size fits all, one thing is for sure: regular physical activity, such as walking, cycling, wheeling, doing sports, or engaging in active recreation, provides significant benefits for health. Some physical activity is better than doing none.

“I recommend that people lock in on their nutrition and talk to a dietician. See what your specific body needs are, and also take classes. A lot of times we get in the gym and we just want to get everything we see on video. People have to realize that there's a starting point before you get to the more complicated steps,” said Coach TT.

Maybe you are not ready for the gym just yet, or are not able to go. The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided some simple tips to help keep as active as possible at home. These include the following:
  • online fitness classes
  • dancing for a few minutes
  • walking up and down stairs
  • playing active video games
  • working out with a jump rope
  • stretching
  • doing muscle strength exercises
  • doing balance training exercises
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Kacoya Hobbs
Taylor Jordan, an avid runner, began her fitness journey in 2015.
Taylor Jordan, an avid runner who studied health in college, started her fitness journey around 2015 to improve her mental health, but she started out doing workout routines around her house.

“I used Tumblr in the beginning to find great workouts. Now I use YouTube and have made several playlists. I get specific if I want at-home exercises—low impact, high impact—what part of the body it's targeting. I would pick three a day, and most of these are 10-minute workouts,” said Jordan.

With a variety of public and private gyms nearby, getting started with fitness is easy in Savannah. But before you jump in, take some time to prepare. Understanding your body's limitations and strengths, familiarizing yourself with the equipment, and setting clear goals will maximize your workouts and help you reach your fitness aspirations.

“There are Google and YouTube. You can learn a lot about the body and how to properly do things. For example, how to workout a certain body part. You don’t want to start lifting weights by doing things that can lead to injury. You want to build goals that will work for you,” said Roberts.

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Martin Evans
Taylor Jordan, an avid runner, preparing for exercise at Forsyth Park
Even if you are still skipping the gym, Savannah and Chatham County have plenty of parks to use, like Forsyth Park, Daffin, Laker Mayer, and more. Jordan said she enjoys being outdoors when working out.

“Immersing yourself in nature is also really good for mental health. Get out of the buildings and away from the electronics sometimes. It’s a great stress-reliever. It kind of gives you a mental break, too. It's hard to think about something for a long time when you're outside running; it's kind of like a meditation,” said Jordan.

According to the American Psychological Association, spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health, and emotional well-being.

According to WHO, children and adolescents aged five to 17 should do at least an average of 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic physical activity, across the week.

Adults aged 18 to 64 years should do at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75–150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week.

“I encourage people to start small. Do something active for 15 minutes a day, and cut something out of your regular diet. Cutting out a soda a day or that candy bar can go a long way and create a habit that will be built. There's peaks and sometimes there's valleys when life gets in the way. But, at the end of the day, we're still pushing through," said David Jones, a former college athlete and avid gym-goer.

Tony Wright uses kickball as his physical activity. He started about three years ago and is a part of the kickball team Kick Nation under the Savannah Adult Recreation Club, commonly known as "SARC."
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Kareem McMichael
Tony Wright plays kickball as a member of Kick Nation, part of Savannah Adult Recreation Club.
“It was a challenge. I am not a naturally athletic person. I never knew in my life that I would be playing on a kickball team at the age of 33 and kick well because, through practice and playing more, I was growing up. This has helped me get out of my comfort zone,” said Wright.

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Kareem McMichael
Deion Williams, a member of Kick Nation kickball team, runs to 3rd base during a game.
The Savannah Adult Recreation Coalition (SARC) fosters a welcoming environment for individuals to participate in their favorite athletic pursuits. SARC offers opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals, establish lasting friendships, and forge positive experiences through organized sports. They have softball and volleyball leagues as well.
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Kick Nation is a kickball team within the Savannah Area Recreation Coalition (SARC)
“I love our team. Our team is very different and has people from different walks of life. It is a welcoming community. If someone is interested in joining a team, they should look into SARC,” said Wright.

Adults aged 65 years and older have the same activity recommendation as younger adults, and as part of their weekly physical activity, older adults should do varied multicomponent physical activity that emphasizes functional balance and strength training at moderate or greater intensity.

Anyone at any age can suffer from movement disorders and have difficulty with mobility. At St. Joseph's/Candler, through their movement disorder program, locals can seek information and join to stay active.

Also at St. Joseph’s/Candler is SOURCE, which offers service options using resources in a community environment. Located at the Georgia Infirmary, SOURCE is a case management program under the Elderly and Disabled Waiver Program (EDWP) administered by the Department of Community Health.

“Our goal is to keep our elderly and disabled members living in the community where they reside for as long as possible and prevent nursing home placement,” said Angela Grant, SOURCE Program Manager.

Their Savannah campus at the Georgia Infirmary offers not only SOURCE case management services but also Adult Day Health and primary care services onsite.

“If you are at home and have difficulty with mobility and need someone to accompany you with physical activity, we have resources for that through SOURCE. If someone didn't qualify for SOURCE, we have other resources to connect them with. We always try to link people to a resource in the community that can help you,” said Grant.

In the constitution of WHO, it states that health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Coach TT, Roberts, Jones, Grant, Federico, and Jordan all agreed that physical activity and better eating have had a positive impact on their mental health.

“I know it has helped my mental health in a good way. And I enjoy coaching others because you see them reach their goals, and it transforms their lives. They are proud of reaching the small goals and then working towards the big goals,” said Federico.

click to enlarge Health, Wellness and Fitness in Savannah
Coach TT, owner of Pressure Health and Fitness in Savannah
“You can train the person physically, but if they're mentally in the wrong place, they will not continue. Anytime you start something new, it will require change, and anytime we change, it can be uncomfortable. My favorite thing when I am working with people is seeing the internal transformation,” said Coach TT.
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HEALTHY SAVANNAH
Another resource for residents seeking to improve their health is Healthy Savannah. This community-driven organization fosters a culture of wellness by implementing policies and environmental changes that promote healthy living. Their collaborative efforts, involving more than 200 partner organizations, focus on creating equitable access to nutritious food and promoting opportunities for physical activity. Through this comprehensive approach, Healthy Savannah strives to make Savannah a healthier place to live and work.

THE CITY OF SAVANNAH RECREATION AND LEISURE SERVICES
The City of Savannah Recreation and Leisure Services will offer several athletic opportunities for youth and adults this summer.

Above the Violence Friday Night Hoops
For the first time, the City will host a 3-on-3 basketball league for adults ages 18 to 24 in honor of Coach Roscoe “Scolo” Edwards. The Above the Violence Friday Night Hoops season will be a one-weekend tournament on July 12. The 3-v-3 tournament is free and open to ages 18 and over. Team registration is required by July 8. To register, call (912) 351-3852 or email [email protected].

Summer Basketball
Every Friday and Saturday from June 7 to July 27, Summer Basketball will welcome teens 12 to 18 at the Grant Gym, 122 West St. and Eastside Gym, 415 Goebel Ave. Ages 12 to 15 will compete from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Afterwards, ages 16 to 18 will compete from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Food, drinks, games, and activities will also be provided. Registration will take place on site.

For more summer activities and fun for kids and adults visit the city of Savannah website 100 Days of Summer.

SAVANNAH CULTURAL ARTS CENTER
The Savannah Cultural Arts Center has an abundance of classes and workshops throughout the summer. Including but not limited to hip-hop, ballet, jazz, and heel dancing. All classes take place at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center at 201 Montgomery St. Limited (paid) street parking is available near the SCAC. The closest parking garages are Liberty Parking Garage on Liberty and Montgomery and Robinson Parking Garage on Montgomery Street across from Chatham County Courthouse. There is an accessible drop-off area on Montgomery Street, and one accessible parking space next to the building on Turner Boulevard.

     

Kareem McMichael

Kareem McMichael is a filmmaker, documentarian, writer, and multimedia content creator. The Macon native enjoys entertainment, and sharing with locals and visitors’ stories about Savannah’s art and culture scene. When he is not working, he enjoys relaxing at the beach, grabbing a beverage, hitting a fun art event,...
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