Riddle: What do you get when you cross an enthusiastic vegetable-growing Master Gardener with a passionately energetic, camera-ready physical therapist?

Answer: None other than Stacy Walters, the creative force behind Fit to Garden, a program designed to help gardeners stay in the garden, not flat on their backs under a mountain of ice packs.

  Stacy Walters
  Stacy Walters combines her professional training as a registered kinesiotherapist with her passion for green living.
   
I was inspired to write about Stacy after reading this Facebook post by my dear friend, Stephanie: "Last of my seeds arrived today. Will get my seeds started in their trays this weekend. Will be ready after the last frost date."

Stephanie lives just outside of Boulder, CO. Now, I don't want to gloat, but out here in Santa Barbara, "last frost date" makes about as much sense as "beginning of breathing season." I forget that most of you have recently experienced that season they call winter. For months your "gardening" has consisted of rereading the tattered pages of last summer's Fine Gardening issue for the hundredth time, ordering this year's horticultural adventures from seed catalogs, and gapping the spark plugs in your trusty Fiskar's PowerGear Bypass Pruners.

Any minute now Mother Nature's public address system will blare, "Gardeners, start your engines!" and, like my Colorado pal, you'll explode out the door, fueled by the pent up energy you've been stifling all winter. But before you do anything silly, check out the Fit to Garden website (stacywalters.com).

Stacy hits the nail on the head: "Gardening, like any other strenuous activity, requires strength training in the off-season, a dynamic warm-up, proper biomechanics, and post-activity stretching. The goal is for gardeners to reduce the risk of injury, make lawn and garden work easier and more enjoyable... and ultimately help gardeners become stronger!"

  stacy shoveling
  At least it will be a few months before
you'll need Stacy's advice on shoveling
snow.
   
At Fit to Garden, Stacy provides free information that prepares gardeners for the strenuous lifting, bending, turning, squatting, huffing and puffing that's all in a satisfyingly sweaty day's work. There's a storehouse of information, like clearly written, well-photographed, downloadable guides filled with instructions for stretching and strengthening. She's also created a FITtoGARDEN Channel at YouTube, with professionally produced segments about the health benefits of gardening, proper lifting techniques, compelling reasons for going back to using push reel mowers (big brownie points from me for alternatives to those gas-powered, fume-belchers), and my favorite, "Proper Raking Biomechanics," if only for the name.

You'll find more than body mechanics at Stacy's website, like healthy cooking tips for your harvest (and some wickedly yummy cookie recipes), ideas for living a greener lifestyle, and great gardening ideas.

Take a few minutes and cruise through Fit to Garden. You'll come away with useful ideas for making your gardening time more fun, more productive, and a doing it in a cool, green way.

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