Teen walks his way to good health

Local Club VIBES member is taking steps towards good healthJune 6, 2017-Live at Five at 4

A good goal for good health is walking 10-thousand steps a day. The more you move the better.

Illya Popov is a teen who is making big changes in his life one step at a time.

He keeps up with his daily steps with a Fitbit.

He doesn't walk on a track or a treadmill but in his room.

"This is all I do," he said as he marched in place.  "And I get my steps in doing this every day."

He's doing it for the United States Association of Blind Athletes National Fitness Challenge.

"I had seven surgeries, seven retina attachment surgeries," he said.

IIlya lost vision in his right eye when he was 8.

"September last year, two weeks before my 17th birthday, I lost my vision in my left eye because of all the surgeries and stuff. My retina kept on detaching and after every surgery it got worse and worse," he said. "When I lost my sight I wasn't going to sit in my room and do nothing."

After losing his vision last fall, he found out about Club VIBES. It's an advocacy organization for people who are blind or visually impaired. He's enjoyed riding tandem bikes with the group and dining together.

And he is part of their National Fitness Challenge team. They walk together and on their own. Then they add their combined step to compete against a dozen other groups.

"We are in first place right now. But St Louis and Atlanta are catching up. When I saw that I was ready to just keep on walking and let us stay ahead," he said.

He's wearing out the carpet in his room. The goal is to hit fitness goals of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity and 10,000 steps per day. 

"Yesterday I walked the last time I checked was 70,217 steps. That's 45 miles. In one day? Uh huh. How did you feel at the end of that walk? My legs are still tired."

Before he started the fitness challenge Illya weighed about 230 pounds.

"Counting my steps motivate me to do more exercise and lose weight," he said.

He's lost about 50 pounds and gained his US Citizenship.

"I was born in the Ukraine," he said.

His family moved to Knoxville when he was a little kid. Finally, April 28, his whole family became US citizens.

"They gave us the little American flags where you can wave around. When we were driving back I started singing in the car I am an America waving the flag," he said.

Illya Popov is a proud American with a commitment to fitness.

"I've just been walking, walking, walking."

Illya is part of Club VIBES. The organization needs volunteers who can see to assist with recreation like tandem biking and walking for fitness.

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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