I had a really great interview with Jon Feinman, who is the Executive Director and CEO of Innercity Weightlifting, a non-profit based in Boston. They own and operate a few gyms around the city and work with young people who have been identified as a high risk for violence. Their programs focus on social inclusion and reducing youth violence by working with these guys (mainly guys) in the gym. They connect these young people with new networks and opportunities, including meaningful career tracks in and beyond personal training. According to them, they use the gym to replace segregation and isolation with economic mobility and social inclusion, disrupting the system that leads to urban street violence.
This interview was recorded while Jon was in one of the gyms so you’ll probably hear a few weights and grunts in the background, don’t mind them, it’s all part of creating the atmosphere! I absolutely love the work that Jon and Innercity Weightlifting are doing. They are completely flipping the typical non-profit model on its head with the way that they are running their programs but not only are they changing the lives of the students they are working with, they are changing the lives of the clients who choose to train at the gym with the students. Jon mentions in this episode that most of the clients that come to the gym have never met someone who has been in jail before. Making this introduction and fostering a connection promotes social inclusion not just for the students, but for the clients too. Excited for you to listen to this episode!