Paul Rezaei was at work one day when he had a bit of an epiphany. One that kind of changed his life, and may even change yours too.
He was standing in the middle of the large gym where he works as a personal trainer, when he noticed something just a little peculiar. Within the racks of dumbbells and rows of stair machines and all the people using them was this: inefficiency.
“This idea we have of exercise is a little strange,” he says. “Going to a box somewhere just to move things around is an odd, relatively modern phenomenon. It seems inefficient. But if you can harness that energy, and actually put it to good use, then you have something.”
That something is Fit Community, an organization that combines exercise with volunteerism, and offers folks the opportunity to actually put their muscle to work helping others.
And it’s all free. Free to any organization or person that needs assistance, and free to the volunteers who show up and get a unique workout with a certified trainer.
“We’ve done everything from park cleanups, to helping people move, to manually installing a large tire obstacle course,” says Rezaei, a San Antonio native and co-founder of the group. “We’ve worked with the Wounded Warrior project and have helped those folks with landscaping, and are now getting involved with other local organizations as well.”
Sometimes the chores are so physically taxing that no extra workout is necessary. But in the event of easier tasks, Rezaei will incorporate a boot camp style moves during the event, or offer a full workout after the volunteer work is done.
No matter what, you get to do something good for your heart, while doing something good from the heart. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Seems the only challenge the group faces is having others fully adopt and understand its unique combination of attributes, namely working out while you help out (which is their current slogan).
“Too often we isolate individual components and miss out on the greater good – we’ve been doing it for years with food, like taking vitamin C pills as opposed eating a nourishing orange.
“And now we’ve isolated exercise, so that people have this very restrictive definition of what it is” says Rezaei. “We’d like to change the definition of what it can be, so that people use that energy to work with a purpose and intention … We have lots of people who like to workout, and lots of people who need help. And this is a great way to marry the two.”
As part of that mission, Fit Community asks people to donate one workout a week toward something bigger than themselves, and literally apply the energy they may use in a scheduled workout toward community projects.
“If you’re planning to workout and sweat, you might as well do some civic service at the same time,” says Rezaei. “You’re killing two birds with one stone. Plus, there’s the social aspect of meeting other people and just having fun.”
Fit Community is currently in the process of establishing itself as an official nonprofit organization, and will be working this Saturday on a graffiti wipeout project from 9–11:30 a.m. The group has opportunities for you to work out and help out nearly every weekend, with all projects and workouts scaleable to just about any fitness level.
“My vision is to have it be a nationwide phenomenon, if not a worldwide one,” says Rezaei. “So that people can travel just about anywhere, look up Fit Community and have the chance to work out and help out where ever they may be.”
Whether you need a hand or want to lend a hand, let’s hope that vision comes true.
Tom Trevino is a writer and wellness coach based out of San Antonio. His weekly column covers anything and everything related to health and wellness. He holds a B.A. from the University of Texas at San Antonio, with certification and training from the Cooper Institute. He has a fondness for dogs, NPR, the New York Times, and anything on two wheels. When he’s not writing, training, or cooking, you can find him wandering the aisles of Central Market.