The Black Health Movement is here through the summer and beyond. The Second Saturday Fitness Fest kicks off Saturday, June 12 from 9 a.m. to noon in Cadillac Square, and will continue every second Saturday in downtown Detroit. Co-founders Eugene Thomas and Lem Joyner want to create a cultural shift around health and wellness throughout the African American community with their social fitness and education initiative.
They compile crowdsourced health and fitness information to connect with the community. Thomas says, “The biggest challenge in fitness for some people is just getting started. Fitness can be fun; anyone can do it.”
The movement launched in May 2021 and, since then, has collaborated with Downtown Detroit Partnership to create a one-mile trek of six 10-minute exercises. Participants move from station to station, and, by the end of the cycle, they’ve worked out for 60 minutes and walked a mile. Each month, through August, the Fitness Fest will feature Detroit’s premier fitness professionals and brands like Vibe Ride, YMCA and more.
Thomas spent 25 years in corporate health care, working with companies like Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. He says, “I saw a consistent threat that African Americans are disproportionately negatively impacted. There are many controllable things that can impact our outcome: frankly, our choices around diet and fitness.”
COVID-19 inspired him to put his skills toward addressing these issues, and, when he met Joyner – an app developer – they crafted a plan. Thomas says, “It’s more than just hosting events. We have to build an infrastructure to last.” Joyner created a social media platform to support the movement and is in the process of creating an app for the movement.
They also started a nonprofit, the Black Health Movement Foundation, receiving an endorsement from the Detroit Medical Society in May. Sinai-Grace Hospital and Wayne County Probate Court Judge David Jenkins have signed on to be board members.
Thomas says, “We are making progress, and our goal is to build a strong organization that will maintain a culture shift. Racial health disparities are an issue that we can deal with. In the area of diabetes, hypertension and obesity, if we eat right and exercise we can close the gap.”
Register at blackhealthmovementfoundation.com