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Fitness Warriors' Annual 'Warrior Nation Celebration' Set for Jan. 25

RICHMOND, VA – With the Fitness Warriors program currently immersed in offering free fitness classes in communities around the Richmond region, the program will take the opportunity to highlight community health success stories on January 25 at the annual Warrior Nation Celebration. The event will take place at the Robinson Theater in Church Hill at 5:00pm and will celebrate program achievements and community impact while also recognizing all program partners, participants, and host sites. Kicking off the event as featured guest speaker will be the Honorable Cynthia Newbille, Councilmember and President of the Richmond City Council and representative of Voter District 7.

The Fitness Warriors program, now in its sixth year, trains community leaders to become fitness instructors and offer free fitness classes throughout the Richmond region, with a particular focus on underserved areas facing the highest rates of chronic disease. Since its inception in 2014, the Fitness Warriors program has grown significantly in both size and geographic reach. Over the last five years the program has trained 128 community fitness leaders, known as Warriors, to lead free group exercise classes in the communities that need them the most. At the end of 2019, there were over 60 free weekly fitness classes happening across the region. The program has continued to expand its reach each year and, in addition to operating in communities in Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover, and the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights, Fitness Warriors now also lead weekly classes in Amelia County, Dinwiddie County, Sussex County, Nottoway County, and Charles City County. In the six years the program has been in operation, 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. The program partners with more than 50 host sites to offer the free classes, including churches, community centers, libraries, and low-income housing communities. The classes allow emerging fitness professionals to hone their skills while providing an essential resource to the communities they serve.

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.

“The Fitness Warriors have brought so much energy and passion for fitness to our recreation centers where they host classes,” said Dr. James Worsley, Director of Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation. “We are so thankful for this partnership and the positive impact it is having on our community.”

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. Generosity and support for the program are also provided by the Anthem Foundation, the Cameron Foundation, the John Randolph Foundation, the Windsor Foundation, SisterFund, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Premier Health Plan, Susan and Lennart Freeman, Pam and Bill Royall, Mr. and Mrs. Fred T. Tattersall, and Kirk and Kelly Tattersall. The Warriors and everyone associated with the program, including host-site partners, class participants, and program supporters, have come to be known as the Warrior Nation. The Warrior Nation Celebration will honor the impact that Warriors are collectively making on community health and fitness. Program administrators will recognize selected individuals and host sites by awarding the Raymond D. Patterson Award, the Outstanding Host Site Award, and the Class Participant Standout Awards. In addition, superlatives will be given to Warriors who go above and beyond the program expectations, with select stories being highlighted during the program.

“The Fitness Warriors program does a fantastic job of providing active living opportunities to all corners of the Richmond region,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “We are fortunate to work with so many great partners and foundations to prepare these leaders who help build healthy and active communities on a daily basis.”

The Fitness Warriors program continues to offer free weekly classes, and a full class schedule can be found at www.sportsbackers.org/warriors-schedule. The program is currently accepting applications for the next class of Warriors. Those accepted into the program will begin training in April of 2020 and will begin leading free classes for the community by July 2020. Applications are due by February 9th. The application can be found at the following link: https://www.tfaforms.com/4728001

The Robinson Theater Community Arts Center is located at 2903 Q Street. Doors open at 5:00 pm and the program will run from 6:00pm-7:00pm, with a reception to follow.

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 About Sports Backers

With a key message of Let’s Go, RVA, the mission of Sports Backers is to inspire people from all corners of our community to live actively. A non-profit organization, Sports Backers is dedicated to producing nationally recognized quality sporting events and programs that motivate residents and visitors alike to be more active, supporting youth running and fitness programs, and advocating for safe and connected networks of bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Learn more at sportsbackers.org.