When Whitney Jaye moved from Virginia-Highland (an area so into fitness that, she says, “you might get run over by a group of runners anytime you’re walking down the sidewalk”) to West End, she was shocked by the lack of health resources near her new home. “It is night and day in terms of how engrained fitness, wellness, and health are in the community,” she says. “And it’s odd to me because here in West End, we have a high concentration of urban farms and community gardens, four vegan restaurants, and a general awareness of health and wellness, but no access to group fitness instruction or food literacy and education.” Jaye was inspired to fill that void and the idea for Westside Fit Club was born. This Saturday, that idea finally becomes reality as the organization hosts its official kickoff event.
The mission is a big one: To change the culture of wellness in Atlanta’s West. To do that, Jaye and her team of five will provide group fitness instruction, food education via grocery tours and nutrition workshops, health events, running groups, and community activity days.
Their home base at 1405 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard (right across from Kroger City Center) will host some of Fit Club’s larger events — things like Saturday’s kickoff event and a February supper club/roundtable on keeping men active — but much of the programming will be mobile and orchestrated with the help of community ambassadors. “One of our core values is accessibility,” says Jaye, “so a big part of what I want to do is to tap into unused spaces in different neighborhoods here on the west side — Ashview Heights, Westview, Adair Park — I really want to take our programming and pop up in different places so that people other neighborhoods will also have access.”
Jaye, who has funded the project with her own personal investment so far, says programming will not be free but it will be low-cost: “This really is just a labor of love. We want to be an option in a place where there are few to none, so a lot of the programming will cost very little, but we need to be able to cover the cost of instructors or food or the venue, whatever the case may be.”
A full schedule of the group’s wellness programming will be available online once it starts in mid-February, but Fit Club’s awareness campaign has been more about feet on the street than online marketing. “A lot of our outreach efforts have really been tapping into how people on the west side of town receive information,” says Jaye. “Unlike some other parts of town, there aren’t many coffee shops and social spaces, so part of what we do in terms of letting people know what’s going on is utilizing the neighborhood associations. The churches have been good allies and the schools too. It’s a much different strategy than you have to take in some other neighborhoods.”
If you’d like to learn more about Westside Fit Club and support their mission to transform fitness and health accessibility on Atlanta’s west side, head to the kickoff event on Saturday, January 31. Tickets are $15 for an all-day pass (schedule below) or $5 for the launch party.
Schedule of events:
9 a.m. – Welcome! Join us for a light breakfast to jumpstart the day and opening statements.
10:30 a.m. – Morning yoga with Vanya Francis of Om Point Yoga OR a group run with Black Men Run Atlanta
Noon – Body image seminar, Becoming Your Own Personal Trainer: Your Fitness Starts with YOU, with Stephanie Jones of Boom Shock Fitness
1:30 p.m. – Lunch. Join us for a healthy meal prepared by local chef Gladys Opoku of Ye Kitchen.
8 p.m. until midnight – #WSFC launch party with a custom Westside Fit Club cocktail created by Golda Kombucha and Cayrum
Follow @westsidefitclub on Twitter for exclusive raffles, event updates, and more.