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Your resource for choosing a healthier, more active lifestyle in the Midland area.

Stay Active This Summer!

Cancer Services

Cancer Services provides compassionate cancer patient support programs, and promotes healthier living through cancer prevention education at schools, worksites and other locations, specializing in tobacco use treatment for a smoke-free community. Cancer Services also provides weekly gentle yoga classes and low-impact Zumba classes for cancer survivors and caregivers free of charge.

Chippewa Nature Center

CNC features over 15 miles of trails, 1400 acres, nature walks, field trips, workshops, school and scout programs and Nature Day Camp and a Nature Preschool, all to inspire people and institutions to protect the natural world.

Friends of Pere Marquette

The Pere Marquette rail trail stretches over 30 miles from Midland to Clare and is enjoyed by bikers, runners, walkers and skaters both for recreation and transportation. Visit us on Facebook at

Midland Community Center

Provides affordable and quality recreational, social, and personal development opportunities for all ages including classes, leagues, fun runs, and individual recreation opportunities.

Even More Active Opportunities

Midland Community Tennis Center

Michigan's largest tennis facility with 16 indoor/ 16 outdoor tennis courts. Great programming for all ages and levels. Learn to play tennis in just one hour.

MidMichigan Health

MidMichigan Health offers a variety of exercise and recreation programs to help you manage a medical condition or just live a healthier lifestyle.  Visit and click on Support Services. Here you will learn more about MidMichigan’s fitness programs, nutrition counseling, wellness coaching, and support groups. There are also health calculators to help manage and monitor your health. We also offer a variety of classes and health screenings. Visit to browse our offerings and sign up.


ReallyBeThere is dedicated to helping enable anyone, young or old, to actively engage in life with enthusiasm, energy, and confidence to achieve and sustain a healthy and balanced sense of well-being. ReallyBeThere offers ChiRunning and ChiWalking classes and coaching, so you can learn how to run and walk more energy efficiently and injury-free.


Mary LaForet's Story

     When Mary LaForet was 15 years old, she was severely injured in an automobile accident and entered adulthood as a very disabled individual.  By managing her physical challenges to the best of her ability, she spent the next 38 years engaged in academic and business pursuits.  She earned a Bachelor's of Science in Foods and Nutrition at Michigan State, acquired various computer degrees at business colleges in Philadelphia, and had a successful banking career for almost 13 years.  While living in Philadelphia, Mary became a mother and thrived with the unwavering support of a circle of friends.  She decided to leave Philadelphia to come to Midland, MI where several business ownership opportunities awaited and allowed the development of her business skills.


     A seminar associated with one of those businesses taught Mary that everyone ends up somewhere in this life but where depends on having a vision for the future. This convinced Mary that she must speak out on those issues for which she is passionately committed.  One of those passions of her life has been an unwavering belief in the benefits of fitness. She wrote a book several years ago about her life entitled Fighting Back, which is dedicated to the athlete in all of us.  She realized that, “I could have accomplished this goal many years ago but never received the needed guidance about how to go about such a task.  I also felt inadequately prepared for realizing my full potential, but is now I’m on a path to reach my goals.” Her current plan is to earn certification as a "Fitness Coach" by the American Council on Exercise so she can assist others to know the benefits of a fit body and how to achieve their physical fitness goals.  She is scheduled to take the exam later this month.

     Mary laments that the present health-care system relies almost entirely on people being self-motivated to be physically fit.  Current research shows however, that if a trained professional helps an individual set goals, problem-solve, and practice new skills, the person is much more likely to make the changes necessary to be successful. The head- injured individual is compelled to survive in a body where in some instances the forced posture is very detrimental to nerve and muscle functioning. Hence, the person’s own bones may block the way to true recovery. As Mary has progressed in her healing process, she has found that her brain has recovered as her body has regained its correct bearing.


     When Mary relocated to Midland in October of 2000, she sought out the Midland Community Center for fitness training. At that time, a reputable local foot doctor noted that she had no gait in her walk but only a shifting in weight from right to left.  People with head injuries face many difficulties, mainly with cognition and motor skills.  Mary recalled, “I had no idea my body was compensating the way it did.” This, coupled with her post-pregnancy body beginning to feel the impact of aging, forced her to face an emerging reality. She had to get the limited muscle function in her body to learn a new way to force the muscles to re-develop. “The Midland Community Center provided the ideal place for me to do this,” she added.

     Mary had also developed a love of social dancing while living in Philadelphia, so she was delighted to learn she could continue it here with the Midland Traditional Dancers.  Mary and her daughter Anne both attend the dance sessions bi-weekly. All this activity has equipped Anne to develop into a real athlete. She is now 12 years old and visits the Community Center with her mother when she's not pursuing her own physical interests. Anne is on the Midland Gymnastic Training Center's team but has also performed gymnastics at the Midland Community Center as well as dancing at Dean Black School of Performing Arts, JW Dance, and ice skating at the Civic Center.

     As an exercise advocate, Mary leads the Safe Routes to School effort in the Bike/Walk Midland subcommittee of the Midland Planning Commission. She remembers continuing to walk to school even after her injury. “In high school few of the nerves on my right side  worked properly.  Daily I climbed the steps of a highway overpass to get to my classes. My body adapted to its new reality but not having access to today’s advanced physical therapy caused a highly uneven gait while walking and hunchbacked posture.” Mary emphasized, “If I could overcome the difficulties I faced, then our local public and private partnerships need to find a way to reduce barriers to make sure our school-age youth have a fitness culture incorporated into their lives.”

     Mary sees many positive things happening in her life and believes all of her past experiences have been preparing her to help influence and assist other disabled people to be all they can be.  She is convinced that her injury was one of the best things that could have happened to her.  “Recently, Dave Emmel, Director of the Disability Network of MidMichigan, asked me to serve as a member of the Board of Directors.  I also serve on two other Boards:  Dial-A-Ride and Friends of MCTV.  Not only do I hope to be able to advocate for fitness, but also to help promote the Disability Network’s position of accepting and assisting individuals no matter what challenges they face.  Addressing funding concerns is a priority as well,” Mary concluded.

     There’s no doubt that with Mary’s extraordinary perseverance and dedication, she will certainly accomplish those goals.

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