Brooklyn Health and Fitness Week kicked off to uber loud Zumba music at Industry City in Sunset Park Sunday with 60 vendors ranging from health insurance companies and sports clubs to health clinics, dance groups and athletic wear companies showing off and raising awareness of their products.
The idea? To counteract the effects of the borough's famous cheesecake, churros and pizza.
"We have one of the highest rates of child obesity in the country," and the number of overweight adults is also a problem, said John Madias, marketing coordinator for the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Brooklyn Health and Fitness Week as well as the expo are designed to "grow our economy while shrinking our waistlines," he said.
The Expo proves "Brooklyn is not just about artisanal food," added the Chamber's president, Carlo A. Scissura.
A healthy Brooklyn is good for everybody, reducing preventable hospital admissions as well as boosting the local economy, Scissura said.
Many proprietors of local fitness businesses at the Expo were on second careers, laboring for the love of health.
Retired teacher Helene Trimarchi, of Gerritsen Beach, started YouGoGirlNY.com -- fitness gear for women -- after a sports store's personnel ignored her pleas for help while catering to male customers.
Her socks without seams, workout wear with moisture-wicking fabrics, built-in bras and extra pockets are designed for women who love to sweat -- just like she does. An advocate of local sourcing, Trimarchi said her athletic gear -- which runs from $7.99 to $90 but was offered at a discount at the expo -- was made almost entirely in the U.S., but not, alas, in New York City.
"What would be really good for us is to find someone in Brooklyn who could make this stuff for us," Trimarchi said. "We tried. We really tried! But manufacturing has moved out of NYC." She finally found a company to fabricate her fitness wear in Massachusetts.
Victoria Falk, 42, of Spring Creek Towers, worked 17 years as a social worker before starting Passionate Travel, Inc.
"I'm showing people the health benefits of taking a vacation. We spend a lot of time on our jobs and responsibilities, but we don't give attention to our health until it is too late," Falk said.
Falk works with a partner to provide "healthy cruises," that don't focus on stuffing one's face at the on board buffets.
In true Brooklyn style, schmoozing was rampant. Matthew Cofrancesco, executive director of the Brooklyn Sports Club in Canarsie, stopped by the booth promoting the Dodge YMCA in Brooklyn Heights, to see about getting a Y membership for his wife.
"My wife likes to swim, but she hasn't been able to find a place convenient to her," Cofrancesco said. While Brooklyn Sports Club boasts a six-lane pool in terrific demand by swim teams and other users, swimming pools are a disappearing NYC amenity, Cofrancesco added.
At least 37 Brooklyn gyms are offering discounts, free classes, "movement assessments" and other incentives as a part of Brooklyn Fitness Week Nov. 9-16. For a complete list, go to www.iBrooklyn.com.