COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL)—This weekend, Columbus gymgoers have the opportunity to get educated while they get their sweat on. This Saturday, May 20, Piedmont Columbus Regional will host their Spinning for Stroke event in collaboration with Max Fitness Elite to bring stroke information to the community. The special spin class in honor of National Stroke Awareness Month will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Max Fitness Elite’s north Columbus location.

“We know that the gym is an unconventional place to do stroke education, but we thought it would be the perfect place for our stroke education because of [stroke’s] risk factors,” Piedmont Columbus Regional Community Outreach Manager Melonese Close said. She cited obesity and a lack of physical activity as manageable risk factors for stroke, which contributed to the idea of hosting a fitness class.

According to the National Institute of Health, risk factors for stroke include conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and more. Other traits like age, race, gender and a family history of stroke all impact a person’s risk for stroke.

“We thought that the spin would be fun because we’re getting a group of people together,” Close said.

Saturday’s event will include a 60-minute ride in which the instructor will give stroke facts throughout. Close added there will refreshments available for class participants and Piedmont representatives will hand out pamphlets, fans and magnets with stroke information to attendees and gymgoers.

Currently, the hospital has reserved 50 bikes for the class, which is open to attendees of all ages and fitness levels. Close said the spin instructor will provide modifications to make the ride easier or more advanced as necessary.

Also at the event will be Piedmont’s mobile unit, which will provide free blood pressure checks and comprehensive Body Mass Index (BMI) information to those who are interested. Piedmont staff plan to provide stroke education and health information to about 300 gymgoers between 9 a.m. and noon.

This year is the second time Piedmont is collaborating with Max Fitness Elite for a spin event, having conducted a spin class for stroke awareness at the hospital in 2017.

Piedmont’s emphasis on stroke awareness stems from their Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) which is conducted every three years to measure the relative health and well-being of the community. One of the heath priorities encompassed in Piedmonts current CHNA is decreasing the impact of and deaths from stroke within the community.

“Community-based stroke survival rates have increased, so we want to make sure that…they are aware of the risk, and that the public is alerted to ways to reduce the disability from stroke,” Close said. She continued and said, “This is a way of making this implementation strategy measurable and making it impactful by posting this class.”

Piedmont Columbus Regional uses the acronym BEFAST (Balance Eyes Face Arms Speech Time) from the Stroke Awareness, which is based on the FAST model originally promoted by the American Stroke Association, according to the pamphlet.  BEFAST is meant to help people know when to call 911 if someone may be experiencing a stroke by identifying symptoms such as instability, lightheadedness, blurred vision, facial drooping, severe headache, arm or leg weakness, numbness, trouble speaking and confusion.

About the hospital’s overarching message, Close said, “Strokes can happen at any time, and anytime that there’s an all-of-a-sudden feeling of any of those things that we’ve identified…it’s time to call 911, because time is off the essence.”

Data from the 2022 U.S. Census reports 46.4% of responders from Columbus, Georgia identified as Black or African American.

The risk of stroke is 50 percent higher for Blacks and the risk of death due to stroke is 70 percent more likely for Black men compared to non-Hispanic whites, according to the Office of Minority Health.