It was only a favor when massage therapist Holly Ottmar decided to work out with one of her clients.
Posted October 3, 2014
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
It was only a favor when massage therapist Holly Ottmar decided to work out with one of her clients. She needed some rehabbing and without such facilities or certified trainers in the area, Ottmar said they could work out together. That favor has turned into an entire movement of physical and health awareness in the town of Mott.
Ottmar is the founder and board member of Just For The Health of It, a non-profit organization aimed at improving the lives of the community of Mott and its citizens around the county.
Living in Bismarck Ottmar would often send her clients to personal trainers at the YMCA if they needed muscle strengthening or muscle balance. Moving back to Mott she did not have that luxury.
Though she was not a certified instructor, she had previously led classes at the YMCA. At the YMCA you didn’t have to be certified to lead an exercise class because she was covered under the organization’s blanket certification.
So she took that experience and offered to help her client in Mott. Word quickly spread of her generosity.
She was asked by another community member to hold classes, Ottmar decided to take the suggestion and started small gatherings. Since she wasn’t certified yet, she didn’t charge, she only asked that the participants made a donation to pay for the space they needed to rent.
According to Ottmar, it just kept building and building, and soon they were up to four to five classes per week.
“We started thinking ‘hey, let’s name it’,” Ottmar said. “So we named it, and had our first 5k walk.” This event occurred in July of 2011.
The event, according to Ottmar, was a big boost in recognition in the community and around the county. She started to get new faces in her classes and concern began to grow as they thought about the need for insurance and official certifications. At that point she began to explore what it would take to make this an official organization.
“We pursued a lot of different avenues, but we ultimately decided on becoming a non-profit organization,” Ottmar said.
Ottmar also referred to Melanie Carvell as a source of encouragement and advice when it came time to formalize everything. Carvell, a health and wellness guru, is a Mott native and recent author of her own book documenting her journey of wellness and success.
After they received their status, they then were required to carry insurance and have their instructors certified. The whole process took from early 2012 to the end of 2012.
Along the process, they had monthly wellness speakers or activities and only donations were accepted to attend these events. The hope was that they could educate the community on different topics, while also accepting donations to keep moving towards the goal of becoming an official organization.
“We charge little to nothing for any of our speakers, because, again, it’s something we’re trying to do for the community,” Ottmar said. “We run basically off of donations and the money that we make in our two main event of the year.”
Two of the events being the 5k Run/Walk held every July and the Zumbathon, an event that is only in its second year.
Along with hosting wellness speakers and educational talks throughout the year, Just For The Health of It has also invited instructors that lead fitness classes, and at this point they have between six and eight classes per week.
“That’s pretty good, considering we’re a small community,” Ottmar said.
The ultimate goal, according to Ottmar, is for Just For The Health of It to become an official 501c3. Part of the requirements prior to applying for that status is proof of business practice for about five years.
The success of this group has Ottmar surprised at what has happened in such a short time.
“It really kind of started on a whim,” Ottmar said. “It wasn’t something that I planned but it just kind of grew and built into this.”
When they formalized the group, they put in a six person board that meets once a month.
The group sees a wide range of ages attend the events.
“It’s a wide range of people that participate,” Ottmar said.
Factoring into those ranges is the weather and the season, but she thought about 30 to 40 people in the community participate at some point throughout the year. The number of participants is larger for the 5k event, where they’ve had anywhere from 20 people to nearly 50. At the events you can see kids as young as nine and adults into their 80’s.
Aside from becoming an official 501c3, Ottmar’s goal for Just For The Health of It is to encourage people to keep moving and exercising.
“My ultimate goal is that more and more people see it as an attribute, that the wellness talks and exposure to wellness will reach out and influence people,” Ottmar said. “One thing that we do see, even though we don’t always have certain people participate in our classes or attending 100% of what we do, we see a lot more physical activity throughout the community, I’d like to think or believe that the seeds that we planted or the influence that we shed have had some bearing on that.”
What’s the future like for Just For The Health of It?
Ottmar hopes that perhaps one day they can be connected with the high school athletic program and be a tool for offseason training. She is also hoping to hold more community and family oriented events. With the increase in population in the area and newcomers from the energy industry, Ottmar thinks it would be a great way to get to know the community.
The group has made huge strides since its inception and Ottmar still can’t believe where it’s at.
“Next year in July, we’re going to celebrate our 5th Annual 5k Walk/Run, if someone would have told me five years ago that we’d be doing that, I’d have never believed them,” Ottmar said.
Ottmar just wants to help her community and be a part of the health and wellness movement, even if the numbers of inspired people don’t grow quickly.
“I don’t care if it’s one life or one person that’s inspired,” Ottmar said.