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Sports Backers Blog

Fitness Warriors Now Accepting Applications for Next Class of Community Leaders

Application deadline set for November 12


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 January of 2022 and will begin leading free classes for the community by March 2022. Applications are due by November 12th, and can be found at the following link: https://www.tfaforms.com/4728001.

Fitness Warrior program leaders will hold two virtual information sessions, following online classes on Monday, October 18, and Wednesday, November 10. To register to attend the sessions, visit the following link: http://bit.ly/FitnessWarriorsReg

Fitness Warriors Program Entering 7th Year

Fitness Warriors, now in its seventh 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, and libraries, and, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Warriors have added classes via Zoom and in 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 https://www.sportsbackers.org/program/fitness-warriors/fitness-warriors-covid-19-class-schedule/.

“Fitness Warriors are dedicated to being catalysts for positive change,” said Tiffany Copeland, Director of Fitness Warriors 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.”

Warriors Currently Offering In-Person Classes, Indoors and Outdoors, and Virtually

Since its inception in 2014, the Fitness Warriors program has grown significantly in both size and geographic reach and is currently offering in-person classes for fully vaccinated participants and volunteers in in Chesterfield, Petersburg, and Richmond, and online classes reaching an even wider audience across the region with outdoor classes wrapping up at the end of October. The program has trained 140 community fitness leaders, known as Warriors, to lead free group exercise classes in the communities that need them the most.

Thanks to the classes offered by the program, over 7,500 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 2019-June 2020, 1,372 individuals, ranging in age from two to 89 years old, came to a Fitness Warrior class for the first time. 81 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 13,090 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.

Fitness Warriors are Vital Resources for Communities

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 it has on individuals and communities,” added Copeland. “The program helps transform the lives of Warrior class members, as well as the participants and communities they serve, and we look forward to our next class of fitness leaders.”

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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