Gym with a Mission Missionfit Baltimore gives kids a place to work out, and work out their feelings.

By Kimberly Uslin



Missionfit

At first glance, this nonprofit’s airy industrial space—located above a body shop in Remington—seems a readymade haven for hip caffeine-seekers, line-editing their newest screenplays and chatting about the new exhibit at the Visionary Arts Museum.

It’s a neat surprise to find the walls lined with dumbbells, certified Crossfit coaches playing a version of “the floor is lava” (focused equal parts on teamwork and strength training) with a group of laughing middle schoolers. Across the room, a sprightly 12-year-old boy flips on gymnastics rings while his brother, only a year older but much taller and stronger, works ferociously at a rowing machine.

It’s just another day at Missionfit

Baltimore, the nonprofit gym founded by fitness junkie Wendy Wolock that opened in October. Every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, the newly-renovated space opens its doors to students from Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School for free training sessions and community building, working on everything from perfect plank position to healthy play.

“Going to the gym changed my life,” says Wolock. “I wanted kids to have that experience. There are no PE or art classes anymore in a lot of the city schools, so I wanted students to have a safe space where they could focus on fitness.”

And though goal setting and achievement through fitness is a huge part of the gym’s mission, the program is about much more than teaching kids about strength, stamina, and coordination. At the end of each session, for example, students have sharing time where they can talk about their day, followed by a “silent minute,” Missionfit’s way of encouraging mindfulness.

Wolock has success stories early in the game, from a young man whose strength training gives him the courage to stand up against bullies to a teenage girl who has learned to control her temper.

“They’re living it,” says Wolock. To learn more about Missionfit or to check out their donation-based community classes for adults, visit missionfit.org.

Published in the April 2016 issue of STYLE.

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