On January 28 (2017), Charles Town resident Jack Hooper completed his 365th day of consecutive movement. His new goal? Keep on rolling.

Hooper, who recently turned 60, made a decision over a year ago to make a change. What’s notable is that he stuck with it. “On December 31, 2015, I weighed two hundred and seventy-two pounds, and was inactive,” he said. “I made a commitment to begin walking and eating a healthy diet the first day of 2016.”

When he first started walking, he felt tired just lacing up his work boots, and found he sweated profusely with every physical activity. “But I stuck with it,” he noted. “After the first month, the weight started coming off and I felt better. When May rolled around, I started running. Six months in, I had lost seventy-three pounds, felt great, and had more confidence.”

As if that weren’t impressive enough, he would go on to accomplish even more. “In the last year, I’ve run seventeen 5Ks, three 10Ks, two half-marathons, one obstacle course race, one duathlon, and one indoor triathlon. I have also taken part in over seventy-five Bros & Bras workout events.”

Hooper only missed seven days in January, which is why his 365th consecutive movement day was marked on January 28. He credits Bros & Bras, the free, regional social fitness group, as a big part of his success. “I was introduced to the group by a friend, who posted about it on Facebook,” he explained. “When I ran into her, she encouraged me to come to the Saturday morning walk/run. On January second, I showed up and walked with Bros & Bras and haven’t looked back since.”

“The members are always supportive and encouraging,” added Hooper. “When I showed up, I was just interested in walking, and I told that to cofounder Kevin Brackens on more than one occasion. I walked five miles every day—sometimes twice that on Saturday and Sunday. But I believe there was a runner in me that wanted out. One day it just happened. Halfway back on my Saturday morning walk, I started running. I ran almost a mile and felt really good about it.”

He also said that, early on, experienced Bros & Bras runners helped him understand form, technique, breathing, and overall attitude. “Learning to run right makes running more enjoyable. I also read once that if you want to change your body, exercise. If you want to change your life, become a runner. Maybe that was foreshadowing.”

Hooper now leads some of the weekly Bros & Bras events, explaining, “I was taking part in the Tuesday and Thursday evening runs, plus the Hills & Brewskies run in Shepherdstown. I guess because of my commitment to show, I eventually became the leader. I also started, and lead, the Sunday run at Sam Michael’s Park.”

About 50 Bros & Bras members joined Hooper on his one-year anniversary to celebrate his accomplishment with a walk/run followed by social time at Black Dog Coffee, and later, Sugar Whipped, where his daughter Emily works.

Jack Hooper (with daughter Emily) was supported by a new fitness family via Charles Town’s Bros & Bras.

Hooper felt “pure joy” from his comrades showing up to support his achievement. “Everyone that came out, in one way or another, has touched my life,” he emphasized. “Each person has inspired, encouraged, and supported me. Friendships for life have formed in the past year. I want to thank everyone for coming out to celebrate—those folks mean the world to me, as does my daughter, who has been very supportive.”

His takeaway after this past year is that he changed his life through diet and exercise. “I feel great because of it, and I encourage everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle. I’m not saying go out and run or walk everyday, but three to five days a week will make a difference.”

It may help to know that prior to last year, Hooper had gone through a bad divorce, fought cancer, and was combating depression. “I’ve had some tough times; we all have,” he said. “I would rather stay positive than reflect on the negatives. Now I choose to be kind, stay positive, and put one foot in front of the other.”

In his year of continuous movement, there were a few times he didn’t feel like going out, but he did it anyway, and said he felt good about pushing himself. “It was all new to me. I was inspired by so many around me. I set goals and made healthy choices. I wanted to try new things, push myself, and have fun all at the same time.”

At first, it wasn’t so much about the streak, but simply finishing what he’d started. “But the closer I got to three hundred and sixty-five days, the streak played into the motivation of going out. Overall, I love running and walking every day.”

As for new goals, Hooper admitted, “Right now, I’m not planning on stopping. I enjoy it way too much. I want to continue to run and do races. I want to challenge myself to try new things, such as Ragnar and triathlons. I want to push myself to run farther.”

True to his word, Hooper hasn’t quit. He just keeps moving, one day at a time.

— A Quote of Note —

Jack’s enthusiasm is infectious and inspiring. His fitness accomplishments are truly something to be proud of. He has shown that with the right level of commitment, you can achieve an unbelievable level of success: 365 days of moving, walking, running, and racing is amazing. — Kevin Brackens, Bros & Bras cofounder.

 

— Katherine is a freelance writer and novelist—and recovering addict. She can be reached here.

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