By William L. Hurlock

Montclair offers a lot to its residents — great schools and libraries, beautiful parks and many wonderful recreational and cultural programs. I recently had the pleasure of participating in one such program through the township Health Department, the Mayor’s Wellness Challenge — a great way to get fit and healthy.

I am a big fan of this type of motivational event, having signed up for many health department programs over the years. Last year I participated in the Montclair “Walk to Napa Valley” event where participants made a committed effort to walk every day. We tracked our steps with maps showing how far we travelled from Montclair — eventually walking all the way to Napa Valley, California. I was thrilled when I learned that I was the first participant to complete the journey — and I became a lot healthier in the process!

This past week, we completed the Mayor’s Wellness Challenge — an event we started on Jan. 9 with a kick-off party at Fire Department headquarters on Pine Street. The event consisted of teams participating in ways to shed unhealthy pounds and lead a healthier lifestyle in the process.

Under the direction of Health Department Director Sue Portuese and her excellent staff, we all learned how to lead healthier lives through exercise and good nutrition. I personally learned a great deal about myself, information I intend to use for the rest of my life.

Throughout the competition, we attended yoga and exercise classes together. We held “healthy hours” where we met up for smoothies or healthy juices at various establishments in Montclair. Healthcare providers screened us for cholesterol and blood sugar. Instructors came to show us the proper way to exercise, make the right nutritional choices and lead healthier lifestyles.

The Challenge was not easy. Every other Monday from January through April participants weighed in at various locations in town. As many know, weekends can be difficult for diet and exercise. For me, the Mondays following the Super Bowl and my birthday I knew would be tough after having attended parties on both occasions.

But knowing that we were to meet made us all think twice when making our eating choices. The Mayor’s Challenge helped us change our ways.

The camaraderie and competition of participating in teams encouraged us to do better. This was a huge source of inspiration for me. The friendly banter and words of encouragement during our biweekly meetings and classes pushed us all to do our very best. The very thought of these Monday morning encounters made me want to do better.

At the end of our program we held our closing party at Hackensack UMC Mountainside Hospital. Prizes were awarded for those teams and individuals who became healthier by losing weight. Raffles were also held for all the participants. Local businesses and community organizations donated “healthy” prizes, such as gym classes and personal training sessions.

I am looking forward to the town’s next healthy lifestyle program and I encourage everyone to participate in these types of events offered by the Montclair Health Department. After all, who wouldn’t want to get fit and healthy?


Deputy Mayor William L. Hurlock is serving his second term on the Township Council.


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