In March, an email came across my desk:
11 free group fitness classes in West Baltimore were being canceled
These classes had been going for 2 years and attended by over 3,000 West Baltimoreans, a community that has a shocking lack of access to opportunities for physical activities. Don't believe me? Take a sneak peak at the app we're developing that plots parks and gyms on a map:
Does anything stand out? How about the lack of pink map markers from about MLK Boulevard and west? In fact, Kaiser Permanente's recent Community Health Needs Assessment ranked Baltimore as the least active in the Mid-Atlantic region, due mostly to lack of access. These 11 free classes that included kickboxing, line dancing, zumba, and yoga etc. were loved by everyone who attended, including myself and Love the Poet, founder of Brown and Healthy and I knew they needed to return.
At first, I thought it'd be a long shot to bring these healthy activities back to the community. They were grant-funded and a trainer group was paid handsomely to source and provide instructors. On impulse, I sent an email to the #freefitness Baltimore network, and I guess I shouldn't have been surprised by the amazing response from these community leaders.
Fast forward to present time, and we have formed a new working group focused on expanding access to fitness in West Baltimore.
VoloCity Kids Foundation, November Project, MissionFIt, and Living Classrooms have all signed on to help bring access to free group fitness classes back to West Baltimore.
We recently developed our first free group fitness calendar for West Baltimore Care and Bon Secours to share with their community. It's the first of many:
I'm extremely proud and impressed by the Baltimore fitness community's eagerness to rally around such an important cause. At the same time, this is not enough. We're in the middle of building out our plans to add even more opportunities in West Baltimore for free fitness. If you're interested in helping out in any way, please email me here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Jake Tunney, Founder, GiveFit