In the midst of a global health crisis that has highlighted numerous racial health disparities, a number of local fitness organizations have emerged which emphasize health and wellness in the Black community.
Four groups in particular — Runners Run, MET Fitness, Building Bodies and Bonds, and Baltimore Bikers— have burst on the local fitness scene as organizations endeavoring to make a substantial impact in the Baltimore community.
MET Fitness, founded in August 2019 by Terrell Talbert, hosts dance fitness classes throughout the week for community members to participate in. The letters ‘M-E-T’ make up an acronym that stands for motivation, elevation and transformation— the core focus of the group.
Talbert, a group fitness instructor, said his sole purpose besides physical fitness is to promote mental health and body positivity.
“I feel as though if you change within, you change on the outside,” he said. Talbert said he will be partnering with Newman’s Fitness gym to provide fitness sessions as the fall season approaches with hopes of one day having his own fitness studio to operate out of. One of the participants commented, “I started with MET Fitness in June and I hate to miss a Tuesday ever since I started! The instructor is very encouraging and you can feel his passion throughout the class! Oh and don’t be afraid to come alone. I often do but everyone is so friendly and you will fit right in!”
In addition to weekly HIIT fitness classes and “Jump2Sweat” trampoline workouts, Talbert periodically posts “Morning MET Motivation” messages to encourage the MET Fitness community as they strive to meet their fitness goals. The MET Fitness has a Facebook page, YouTube channel and can be followed on Instagram at @metmygoals.
More Watters Co., led by exercise physiologist Anthony Watters, is “a health and wellness lifestyle company that uses water, exercise, and culture to build and sustain healthier lifestyles, families, and communities.”
Since the organization was established in 2016 and has garnered multiple awards and has made a profound impact in the areas of exercise programming, nutrition consulting, community organizing, health-based program development, sport-specific performance training, and health and wellness education in the Baltimore community.
Building Bodies and Bodies (B3X) began with a group of gentlemen who ran into each other at Lake Montebello Park in the summer of 2019. They worked out with each other on a weekly basis and the group went from a handful, to dozens, to hundreds.
Marcus Hatten, a retired basketball player, and Tavon Smith, a certified personal trainer, went on to establish Building Bodies and Bonds, a fitness group aimed at tackling health disparities in Baltimore City, early this summer.
In only about three months, B3X has seen exponential growth, especially on its weekly Tuesday evening runs that begin at 400 E. Biddle Street. Essentially every morning, Smith and Hatten, along with co-founders Anthony Williams and Quron Smith, lead various workouts at Lake Montebello involving individuals of all age groups and fitness levels.
“The name [Building Bodies and Bonds] is self-explanatory because when you are working out, you’re building your body, but while you’re building your body you’re also involved with people that you’re working out with,” said Hatten, a graduate of Mervo High School who went on to star at St. John’s University and a point guard for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
Outside of the physical fitness component, B3X also promotes healthy eating and nutritional wellness. Hatten owns and runs the Legendary Wellness Cafe, a juice bar that will soon operate out of a physical location.
B3X has not only created an environment for Baltimoreans to better themselves physically and mentally, but has unified community members from all throughout the city.
“People love it. They love what we got going on, they love our aura, they love our energy, they love how people are being attracted to us… they can tell we’re passionate, they can tell we’re organic,” Hatten continued.
B3X is present on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and is in the process of developing a website and finding a physical location (gym or studio) to conduct daily workouts. The organization can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tavon Smith, another co-founder, has a role of planning B3X’s daily workouts. The personal trainer has a unique story of resilience as he overcame numerous obstacles on his way to becoming a fitness enthusiast.
A native of East Baltimore, Smith spent 15 years in and out of the criminal justice system and turned his life around to become a valuable asset in his community. He, along with his three colleagues, have given a great deal of energy and time to ensure their participants are empowered through fitness and wellness.
“Outside of the park and outside of working out, I just want that whole family feel when it comes to our community,” Hatten said. “I’m just trying to do my part in my community to make sure that everybody’s good and everybody’s growing in a positive way.”
Baltimore Bikers, an organization that promotes health and wellness in the Black community through cycling, was founded in May by pharmaceutical consultant Brian Henderson.
In only a few months of existence, the organization has seen exponential growth, attracting cyclists from throughout Baltimore City and surrounding areas. Baltimore Bikers has also fostered support and recognition from other notable biking groups in the area.
“Shortly after starting the group, you know with the popularity of it, me as the founder— I realized it was bigger than just people sharing rides,” Henderson said. “I realized at that moment, we needed to be more focused and hone in on health and wellness as African Americans.”
This upcoming Sunday, Sept. 13, Baltimore Bikers will host a family fun ride from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Lake Montebello. More information can be found by visiting this link: https://www.instagram.com/p/CE2de_tp U9i/