Sports Backers Blog

Fitness Warriors Graduation Ceremony Set for Jan. 28

RICHMOND, VA – After spending the past six months immersed in training and gaining practical experience leading fitness programs in communities across the Richmond region, a class of 30 ‘Warriors’ will graduate on January 28th from the Fitness Warriors program. The program trains community members to become fitness instructors and is part of Sports Backers’ Keep It Moving initiative. The ceremony and reception will take place at the Robinson Theater Community Arts Center in Church Hill and will begin at 5:00pm.

Since its inception in 2014, the Fitness Warriors program has grown significantly in both size and geographic reach. The first two classes saw 17 and 26 graduates, respectively, and the 30 members of the current class of Warriors are now leading free fitness sessions across the region, including locations in Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights, as well as the counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, and Charles City.

In addition to completing classroom training in the fundamentals of group exercise and community organizing, Fitness Warriors have led over 40 free fitness classes a week. From September to December 2016, over 800 attendees participated in one of these classes held in a wide variety of venues, including churches, community centers, libraries, schools, and underserved housing communities. The classes have allowed emerging fitness professionals to hone their skills while providing an essential resource to communities by using their passion to encourage and inspire residents to be active on a daily basis.

“Fitness Warriors strengthen our city and empower residents of all ages and abilities by making exercise safe and fun, and they are helping to build a culture of physical activity in neighborhoods that don’t otherwise have regular fitness opportunities,” said Dr. Danny Avula, Director of the Richmond City Health District, a founding partner of the Fitness Warriors program. “To reduce rates of obesity and chronic disease, we need passionate residents who are willing to take charge of their health and lead their communities by example, and that is exactly what Fitness Warriors are doing on a daily basis.”

The current class of Fitness Warriors has successfully increased the number of classes available in the Richmond region, and several Warriors in this class branched out into the Tri-Cities area, with positive results. “Improving the overall health and wellness of residents in Hopewell is a very important goal for the city,” said Aaron Reidmiller, Director of Parks and Recreation for Hopewell. “Free Fitness Warrior classes at the Hopewell Community Center provide a great opportunity for residents to improve their overall wellbeing in a fun and exciting group environment.”

The Fitness Warriors graduation ceremony will honor the hundreds of hours of free fitness classes organized by the Warriors in the communities where they live and work. “We are excited to continue to grow this program and build a team of Fitness Warriors to bring active living opportunities to every corner of our region,” said Jon Lugbill, Executive Director of Sports Backers. “It’s great to work with the Windsor Foundation Trust and other program partners to prepare these community-based fitness trainers and advocates to provide programs in the areas that need them most.”

The Fitness Warriors program is a partnership between Sports Backers, the Richmond City Health District, Fit-To-Go, and the American Council on Exercise, with generous support from the Windsor Foundation Trust. The Warriors’ class participants, families, and professional mentors will also be at the graduation, which provides an opportunity to understand their stories and learn about the success they’ve already experienced. The new graduates and 43 alumni of the Fitness Warriors program continue to offer free classes on a regular basis, and a full schedule of the weekly classes can be found at

The Robinson Theater Community Arts Center is located at 2903 Q Street. The graduation ceremony will run from 5:00pm to 6:30pm, with a reception to follow. Media interested in attending the ceremony, or seeing the Fitness Warriors in action leading classes, can contact Pete Woody at 285-9495 ext. 237 or [email protected].