Grab your gym bag and lace up your sneakers. Introducing:
WHAT THEY DO: InnerCity Weightlifting works to reduce youth violence by getting kids off the streets and into the gym.
HOW THEY DO IT: This is more than just a gym. InnerCity Weightlifting is a safe, encouraging space where the sport of weightlifting—the coaches, the training, the atmosphere—facilitates positive change and helps each individual through difficult decision points. At InnerCity Weightlifting, students shift their focus away from gang violence to concentrate on more complex goals, like finishing school and getting a job, all while they grow bigger, stronger, and faster. The select students that are most committed to the program are eligible for an in-house career track in personal training, and job opportunities running the InnerCity Weightlifting training locations.
WHY WE LOVE THEM: The students and coaches at InnerCity Weightlifting aren’t just picking things up and putting them down. There’s a whole lot more involved. Coaches help students set personal lifting and life goals, and cheer them on every step of the way. The lifters at the gym help “pump up” the students’ morale, resulting in a group of young people who once had limited support outside of a gang, are now supporting each other, forming lifelong healthy bonds, and gaining the confidence to succeed despite the odds.
In Their Own Words
Jon Feinman, Founder and Executive Director
“Our students are the young people directly responsible for driving a disproportionate percentage of violence. They are segregated and isolated to the streets. They are not who society thinks they are. No one wants to end up dead or in jail. While at times they may make bad decisions, those decisions are based on the logic of their circumstances, and based on a love for each other no one else is willing to show them. Love becomes our weapon for change.
"At InnerCity Weightlifting, we work directly with the young people who are at the highest risk for violence. We get our students off the streets and into the gym, where we empower them with the positive community and support network needed to say "no" to violence and "yes" to opportunity. Our students have taught me that while we can't force someone to change, we can empower someone with a community that makes them want to change, and that is what we do.”
InnerCity Weightlifting in 3 Words: Economic & Socially Mobile
If we stopped by for a visit, what would we be surprised to see? “If you were to come to our gym, most of the time you would see students working out, training clients, studying, and every once in awhile you'd see Jon running the court in ping pong J.