Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Gym With a Mission

By Whitney Treseder

MissionFit has been in Remington for a year and a half now, but you may not have heard of the nonprofit gym, located in the building at the corner of W. 28th Street and Sisson Street that also houses Baltimore Body Shop. The founders of MissionFit, Wendy Thomas Wolock and Geoffrey Blake, spent three months renovating their upstairs space before opening in mid-2015. The gym is small but airy, full of well-organized equipment. The three-part goal of MissionFit is to strengthen Baltimore youth, educate future coaches, and create an intentional, inclusive community.

Wendy Thomas Wolock was inspired to start MissionFit when her daughter asked her what she would do if she could do anything in the world. She found empowerment, health, and strength at the gym, and wanted to share that experience with the youth of Baltimore. Groups that work with MissionFit include Margaret Brent Middle School, Itineris, Baltimore Child Abuse Center, Baltimore Police BRIDGE, and SquashWise. Participants of middle and high school age learn discipline, respect, teamwork, self-improvement, self-improvement, and community.

Some groups come to MissionFit, but cofounder Geoffrey Blake quickly realized that MissionFit would have to go out to the people as well, so many of their youth programs are not held at the gym on Sisson. One that is is a thrice-weekly Open Gym time, where people aged 14–24 are welcome for free, from 4:30–6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Middle schoolers, aged 11–13, have an open gym time set aside from 3:30–4:30pm on Thursdays.

The other side of MissionFit supports its youth programs. Community classes, many only $10 per class and some donation-based, run most days of the week. They include Strike class (similar to kick-boxing), High-Intensity Interval Training, Strength & Conditioning, and others. The trainers also offer personal training individually and in small groups.

The final piece of the mission is something called Supportive Trainer Education Program, or STEP. This helps people aged 18–24 get their fitness certification and provides them with mentorship along the way, meeting the gym’s mission to send coaches out into the world. Becoming a fitness trainer can help a young person enter the world of work, providing income and the start of a résumé while they continue on any number of career paths.

Collaboration is a constant at Mission Fit, where they recently did training sessions with members of Living Classrooms’ Fresh Start program, who then used the carpentry skills they are learning at Fresh Start to build handstand blocks for the gym. Blake has sourced reclaimed wood from Sandtown Millworks to continue the partnership—“we try to tie as many parts of the community together as possible,” he says.

Soon MissionFit will be moving to a new, larger space within the same building, and they hope to continue to expand their offerings, including some outdoor classes at Druid Hill Park this summer. Remington residents of all ages can sign up for a class at missionfit.org and if you’re 24 or under, just drop in at 2720 Sisson St.