In the midst of a global health crisis that has highlighted numerous racial health disparities, a number of local fitness organizations have emerged which emphasize health and wellness in the Black community.
Four groups in particular — Runners Run, MET Fitness, Building Bodies and Bonds, and Baltimore Bikers— have burst on the local fitness scene as organizations endeavoring to make a substantial impact in the Baltimore community.
MET Fitness, founded in August 2019 by Terrell Talbert, hosts dance fitness classes throughout the week for community members to participate in. The letters ‘M-E-T’ make up an acronym that stands for motivation, elevation and transformation— the core focus of the group.
Talbert, a group fitness instructor, said his sole purpose besides physical fitness is to promote mental health and body positivity.
“I feel as though if you change within, you change on the outside,” he said. Talbert said he will be partnering with Newman’s Fitness gym to provide fitness sessions as the fall season approaches with hopes of one day having his own fitness studio to operate out of. One of the participants commented, “I started with MET Fitness in June and I hate to miss a Tuesday ever since I started! The instructor is very encouraging and you can feel his passion throughout the class! Oh and don’t be afraid to come alone. I often do but everyone is so friendly and you will fit right in!”
In addition to weekly HIIT fitness classes and “Jump2Sweat” trampoline workouts, Talbert periodically posts “Morning MET Motivation” messages to encourage the MET Fitness community as they strive to meet their fitness goals. The MET Fitness has a Facebook page, YouTube channel and can be followed on Instagram at @metmygoals.
More Watters Co., led by exercise physiologist Anthony Watters, is “a health and wellness lifestyle company that uses water, exercise, and culture to build and sustain healthier lifestyles, families, and communities.”
Since the organization was established in 2016 and has garnered multiple awards and has made a profound impact in the areas of exercise programming, nutrition consulting, community organizing, health-based program development, sport-specific performance training, and health and wellness education in the Baltimore community.
Building Bodies and Bodies (B3X) began with a group of gentlemen who ran into each other at Lake Montebello Park in the summer of 2019. They worked out with each other on a weekly basis and the group went from a handful, to dozens, to hundreds.
Marcus Hatten, a retired basketball player, and Tavon Smith, a certified personal trainer, went on to establish Building Bodies and Bonds, a fitness group aimed at tackling health disparities in Baltimore City, early this summer.
In only about three months, B3X has seen exponential growth, especially on its weekly Tuesday evening runs that begin at 400 E. Biddle Street. Essentially every morning, Smith and Hatten, along with co-founders Anthony Williams and Quron Smith, lead various workouts at Lake Montebello involving individuals of all age groups and fitness levels.
“The name [Building Bodies and Bonds] is self-explanatory because when you are working out, you’re building your body, but while you’re building your body you’re also involved with people that you’re working out with,” said Hatten, a graduate of Mervo High School who went on to star at St. John’s University and a point guard for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.