HUNTERSVILLE – Losing weight and becoming fit are more than two New Year’s resolutions for some of the town’s leaders.

They’re the payoff of the first wave of the Healthy-Me Challenge, a fitness program coordinated by the Healthy Huntersville committee and its chair, Ballas Chiropractic’s Kendall Heath.

Mayor Jill Swain, Sergeants Tom Seifert and Andrew Dempski from the Huntersville Police Department, Assistant Town Manager Bobby Williams and Novant Health-Huntersville President Tonya Blackmon are among those taking part.

The pilot challenge involves participants using fitness training and walking 10,000 steps – the equivalent of about five miles – per day.

The program’s objectives are to have participants be ambassadors to the lake area and to raise awareness about the importance of good physical health and wellness.

Swain said in a Jan. 6 orientation meeting that her idea for the program came from a luncheon for the U.S. Conference of Mayors last year in Washington, D.C. A mayor from another city challenged his residents to lose 1 million pounds. Swain said the city pulled it off, so she considered how she could come up with a plan to promote fitness for Huntersville residents of all ages.

“I got people together and I said, ‘We can do this! We can make our community healthy!’” Swain said. “In my mind, I was figuring that if I start this, then I have to be successful.

“What happened is that the committee went off on their own, and they’ve created so many wonderful opportunities for Huntersville to take advantage of and to go out and fly, and they get it. The members of the committee absolutely get that everyone has their own interests and their own incentives. We are partners in this together.”

Each participant in the program is paired with an “accountability partner,” who serves as a motivator to help finish the program.

Seifert said the program is a huge help to adults looking to be fit despite having busy work schedules.

“Hopefully, this is going to be a great experience for everyone,” he said.

Those taking part also can choose their fitness route, such as yoga or CrossFit training, to help them achieve their goals.

“I’m excited to get started with everyone,” Heath said. “We’re fortunate to be partnering with some great local businesses to help everyone improve their health.”

Businesses such as Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics and Champion Sports Performance are contributing to the cause, while CrossFit Northlake, Gotta Yoga, Fleet Feet Sports, IronTribe Fitness and Fit Envy are sponsoring participants.

“I’m going to be walking more and I’m committed to eating healthier,” Swain said. “We have so much to offer our community. I hope that some of the 50,000 people who live in Huntersville will get it and see how many wonderful opportunities are out there for them.

“If we can be that force that changes the direction of the younger generation that’s growing up unhealthier than my generation, and we create a new legacy, then we’ve done something pretty well. I hope this kicks off something with greater things to come.”