HOUSTON — After another year of being named America's Fattest City by Men's Fitness magazine, Houston isn't going to take it anymore. Houston Mayor Bill White recently launched Get Moving Houston to improve economic development and residents' quality of life — and get the city off the “fattest cities” list by January 2006. The program includes a Mayor's Wellness Council made up of health professionals and business and civic leaders including representatives from health clubs, schools, universities and YMCAs.

One such leader, Herb Lipsman, senior vice president of marketing and business development for The Redstone Companies and president and CEO of the Houstonian Lite health clubs, was appointed chairman of the council. He's responsible for implementing some of Mayor White's initiatives including increasing students' activity levels and creating a wellness program for faculty and staff at area schools, making more healthy choices available in restaurants and grocery stores, and placing in the top three in Texas Round-Up, a statewide fun competition for health and fitness.

Each council member has experience in creating successful campaigns for health, Lipsman said. Members will go out on their own and use that expertise to develop their own subcommittees and plans in their field. Each meeting, members will bring their ideas, plans, successes and failures so the group can learn from one another.

“We don't need to reinvent the wheel,” Lipsman said. “Most programs are already existing. We need to bring them all together and find a way to synergize and do a much better job.”

Health clubs are particularly apt to help since getting more people to exercise is good for not only members' health, but also health clubs' pocketbooks, Lipsman said.

“Being in the health club industry is a gift from heaven. To be the fattest city puts us in the forefront of attention. I think [the council] will come up with a lot of things, and I'm anxious to see what they come up with,” he said.