13th Annual Women’S Health & Wellness Forum

The 13th annual Women’s Health & Wellness Forum will give participants four different options of exercise to try. There is a tai chi/qigong and a Zumba program in advance of the time for registration, followed by a continental breakfast and then breakout sessions on stretching to energize and Zumba Gold.

Photo by Andy Towle. |

The 13th annual Women’s Health & Wellness Forum will give participants four different options of exercise to try. There is a tai chi/qigong and a Zumba program in advance of the time for registration, followed by a continental breakfast and then breakout sessions on stretching to energize and Zumba Gold.


Spring is just around the corner and already you can see a renewal rustling beneath the dead of winter — daffodils shooting up through a crusty patch of snow clinging in the shadows.

Women of the Rim Country have a chance to renew themselves with the 13th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum — “It’s Not Rocket Science” — from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, March 12 at the Payson High School. Registration is $10 and scholarships are available to cover the cost. For information on registering and scholarships, call (928) 472-2588.


Women from around the Rim Country have an opportunity to learn about health, nutrition, financial matters and more from local and visiting experts.


Christine Bollier at the annual Women’s Health and Wellness Forum will do a cooking demonstration, preparing two healthy meals in 20 to 30 minutes..

The forum starts at 7 a.m. with exercise programs presented by Christy Walton and Penny Navis-Schmidt. Walton will lead a Zumba program and Navis-Schmidt will present a tai chi/qigong program. Registration and continental breakfast begins at 7:15 a.m.

At 8 a.m., Payson Mayor Kenny Evans and Payson Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Chris Wolf will welcome participants and introduce the keynote speaker, Elaine Lundberg.

Lundberg is an international humor therapist. Her address is titled “Laughter —The Duct Tape That Can Help Hold You Together.” She is making a return appearance at the forum — she keynoted in 2008. For more than two decades, she has been speaking on positive humor and stress management.

Breakout sessions begin at 9:15 a.m. and end at 12:30 p.m. Free lunch is provided following the sessions. Participants will also be entered into a raffle for prizes and have a chance to visit vendor booths.

Following Lundberg’s keynote program, participants can choose three of several breakout sessions:

• Stretch To Energize — Nina Ray;

• Zumba Gold — Christy Walton;

• Protect Your Skin — Peter Zonakis, MD;

• Tiny Astronauts — Matilda Garcia, MD;

• Headaches In Women — John LaWall, MD;

• Breast Health Awareness — Sharon Carlson;

• Brain Gym — Christina Whitehawk;

• Reaching Across The Generations — Jeri Byrne;

• Fuel Your Body With Healthy Meals — Christine Bollier;

• Insurance, Got A Problem? — Cassandra Derocher;

• Health Care Reform, Local Solutions — Pat Evans, MD;

• How To Be Your Own Health Advocate — Maria Fasano, RN


When Zumba first came to the forum it was a big hit. The upbeat, mostly Latin-themed music reverberated from the Payson High School drama department’s black box theater, which was filled with women of all ages and sizes giving their all to keep up with the exciting dance and aerobic exercise moves.

When it was over, almost all emerged flushed and laughing and full of energy for the rest of the day’s activities.

Now in addition to an opening Zumba session at 7 a.m., instructor Christy Walton will present breakout sessions devoted to the Zumba Gold program.

Walton is a certified instructor and member of the Zumba Instructor Network. Since 1980, Walton has been leading cardio-dance classes using her unique style of cueing and inspiring movement to motivate thousands of women over three decades to dance in ways they never thought possible.

“I design my choreography to be dynamic, yet easy to follow for all fitness levels,” said Walton. “My experience has helped me mix the music and provide the movement cues so no matter a person’s fitness level, they will have a workout that is right for them, and is a lot of fun.”

According to Walton, the most common reason a person stops exercising, or doesn’t begin in the first place, is lack of time or boredom. Zumba addresses both of these problems by providing a total body workout in one session and making exercise fun. The music is lively and the mood is incredibly upbeat, she said.

There is no large learning curve in a Zumba class, either. In most cases, first-timers can simply jump right into a class and follow along with the instructor. Zumba instructors are trained to explain little with words, and instead use their body and hand motions to indicate which steps will follow, for a smooth flowing dance workout. Whoops and hollers are a regular occurrence while the dancers have legitimate fun dancing to infectious rhythms and specialty songs.


Courtesy photo

Christina Whitehawk will discuss the Brain Gym® program.


Courtesy photo

Matilda Garcia’s topic will be “Tiny Astronauts.”

Brain Gym

Brain Gym teaches optimal living and learning through movement. Throughout life, stress can affect the capacity to move and inhibit the ability to comprehend, organize and communicate. Brain Gym is based on a philosophy based on the principle that movement is the door to optimal living and learning.

Christina Whitehawk is a certified Brain Gym International consultant and educator. As a facilitator and educator she has been instrumental in teaching individuals, educators and organizations to access and harness previously untapped inner resources using the brain-specific movements and processes.

Whitehawk is one of the featured presenters at the 13th Annual Women’s Wellness Forum — “Women’s Health: It’s Not Rocket Science.”

Participants of the Brain Gym sessions at the Women’s Wellness Forum will learn techniques to maintain a positive, active, clear and an energetic life outlook. Individuals will choose an out-of-balance situation in their life, apply the two-minute technique and notice how their chosen situation’s impact on their life has lessened.

Brain Gym International is the nonprofit organization committed to the principle that intentional movement is the door to optimal living and learning. Its mission is to support self-awareness and ease of living and learning through safe, simple, and effective movement. Brain Gym movements, exercises or activities refer to the original 26 Brain Gym movements, sometimes abbreviated as the 26.

The 26 activities, along with a program for “learning through movement” were developed by educator and reading specialist Paul E. Dennison and his wife and colleague, Gail E. Dennison, who say that the interdependence of movement, cognition and applied learning is the basis of their work. Clients, teachers and students have been reporting for over 20 years on the effectiveness of these simple activities. Even though it is not clear yet “why” these movements work so well, they often bring about dramatic improvements in areas such as: concentration and focus; memory; academics: reading, writing, math, test taking; physical coordination; relationships; self-responsibility; organization skills; and attitude.

Healthy meals

Christine Bollier, who owns Vita-Mart with her husband, BJ, is not only providing the food for the wellness forum’s continental breakfast, she is a breakout session presenter. Her topic will be “Fuel Your Body With Healthy Meals.”

Bollier said she would be doing a cooking demonstration, preparing two healthy meals in 20 to 30 minutes.

“A lot of people say it’s easier to get fast food,” Bollier said. She hopes to show them healthy food can be fast — and versatile.

One of the meals will be a slow cooker roast that takes just 10 to 15 minutes of preparation in the morning and is ready at the end of the day. Bollier will then show how to make use of the leftovers, preparing a different dish.

The other meal will feature broiled ahi tuna and quinoa. She explained quinoa is a whole grain that takes only 15 minutes to make, and is also a complete protein. Bollier said quinoa is versatile and can be used with any kind of vegetable as a side dish and the leftovers, combined with grilled or roasted chicken can make a salad meal. She will also talk about choosing healthier versions of ingredients. “For instance the slow cooker roast has canned tomatoes in it. Canned tomatoes have salt, so I don’t add salt to the dish.”

Bollier’s recipes will be included in the packet given all forum participants, but she will also be giving her students additional informational handouts.


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