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Sports Backers Blog

Fitness Warriors program currently accepting applications for next class of community fitness leaders

Application deadline set for November 1


RICHMOND, VA – Sports Backers is currently accepting applications for the next class of the Fitness Warriors program, which trains members of the community with talent, passion, and potential to be professional fitness instructors in neighborhoods with the highest rates of chronic disease. Those accepted into the program will begin training in accordance with public health guidelines in January of 2021 and will begin leading free classes for the community by May 2021. Applications are due by November 1st, and can be found at the following link: https://www.tfaforms.com/4728001.

Fitness Warriors, now in its sixth year, is a program of Sports Backers that makes a deliberate effort to break down barriers to physical activity, particularly in underserved communities, and provide increased access to fitness opportunities to residents of all corners of the Richmond region.

Fitness Warriors are selected for their skills and leadership and receive free training to be group exercise instructors. Throughout the program, Warrior Recruits receive dedicated training and support, as well as the guidance and mentorship of previous Warrior graduates.

The program partners with host sites to offer the free classes, utilizing churches, community centers, libraries, and low-income housing communities, and, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Warriors have pivoted to lead classes via Zoom and in socially-distanced outdoor settings in local parks. The classes allow emerging fitness professionals to hone their skills while providing an essential resource to residents in the communities they serve. A full class schedule can be found at www.sportsbackers.org/warriors-schedule.

“Fitness Warriors are dedicated to getting their fellow residents started on their journey to health and wellness and being catalysts for positive change,” said Jacki Quinlan, Director of Community Outreach for Sports Backers. “The program is helping transform the lives of Warrior class members as well as the participants and communities they serve.”

Since its inception in 2014, the Fitness Warriors program has grown significantly in both size and geographic reach and is currently offering outdoor classes in Chesterfield, Henrico, Hopewell, and Richmond, and online classes reaching an even wider audience across the region. Over the last six years the program has trained 128 community fitness leaders, known as Warriors, to le

ad free group exercise classes in the communities that need them the most.

Thanks to the classes offered by the program, over 5,000 individuals have started their fitness journey by attending a class led by a Fitness Warrior. Regardless of which training class they were a part of, each Warrior graduate is equipped with the skills to lead free fitness classes and help area residents get moving in a fun and welcoming environment.

According to data collected from July 2018-June 2019, 1,460 individuals, ranging in age from two to 87 years old, came to a Fitness Warrior class for the first time. 78 percent of first-time participants self identified as overweight or obese. Many first-time participants became regulars, as evidenced by having a total number of 13,750 visits throughout the year. In follow-up surveys, class participants reported weight loss, reduced need for medications, reduced stress, improved mood, improved ability to function in daily activities, as well as increased energy levels, flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular endurance.

As part of their training, Fitness Warriors teach hundreds of hours of free fitness classes. In the process, they hone their skills and provide a vital resource for communities that otherwise lack ready access to daily fitness and physical activity opportunities.

“As a graduate of the Fitness Warriors program, I have seen firsthand the incredible impact the program has on individuals and the communities they serve,” said Tiffany Copeland, Fitness Warriors Program Manager for Sports Backers. “I would encourage anyone interested in creating healthier communities to apply to join the program and help us in our mission to inspire active living on a daily basis.”

The Fitness Warriors program depends on the support and expertise of partnering organizations, including Fit To Go, the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and the Richmond City Health District. More information on the Fitness Warriors program, as well as applications and schedules, can be found at https://www.sportsbackers.org/program/fitness-warriors/.

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