About a month ago we detailed how the New York City Police Department and members of the Harlem community joined forces to bring fitness to the streets in hopes of building a bridge between the groups amidst growing racial tensions across the country.
Two weeks later they gathered again for a second community workout in Upper Harlem, and in the following weeks have put on joint community workouts in Brooklyn’s Highland Park, and the Bronx’s Morrisiana neighborhood as a growing effort to continue outreach through the avenue of fitness.
The healing power of fitness: NYPD CrossFit is a law enforcement affiliate with 250 police officers as members that built their program around the therapeutic benefits of constantly varied, functional movements, performed at a high intensity to reverse the troubling trends of officer suicide rates.
- “In addition to the things the department has done, we’ve found that the atmosphere and energy in the gym has helped tremendously,” says Lt. Ron Perez, President of NYPD CrossFit, “thankfully the (suicide) numbers have gone down, and I think that CrossFit can used as a platform to mend some of the relationship in the community as well.”
Moving the ball forward: After the first joint workout came together in about a week Lt. Perez — who is part of the Community Affairs Bureau — brought the event to his superiors and the success of the first workout and the second workout was greenlit with the hopes of bringing even more to the table.
- Lt. Perez: “Syn Martinez (of AfroBrutality) and I spoke and what we decided to do was, instead of running the event as an NYPD vs. AfroBrutality, we’re going to team up together with officers splitting up onto teams with AfroBrutality to challenge the kids in the community to pushup challenges, plank challenges, simple but effective stuff.”
- “We’ll also include instruction, Syn will bring coaches too, and we want to teach and show the community using basic stuff like water bottles and backpacks that you don’t need to pay $170 a month to do this, grab a couple jugs of water and start small, do this in your home.”
The subsequent events have expanded their offerings to include basketball, music, and a variety of other activities to try and engage with the youth of the city on a multitude of levels including exercise.
- Lt. Perez: “We’re trying to show these kids they have options beyond just what’s presented to them in their neighborhoods or circles. Maybe they can become a coach, and then one day own an affiliate, maybe they fall in love with weightlifting and become an olympian, or become the next Mat Fraser, but they’ll never become that if we don’t do our part to introduce them.”
A vision for the future: In addition to more community events throughout New York, Lt. Perez says he hopes to one day start opening community affiliates for the youth in various communities where they can workout, train, and exercise alongside officers and other community members at no charge.
“We’re trying to show kids that we’re not just a bunch of fat donut eating cops, and that we enjoy a variety of other things which means we share some common ground, and eventually use that common ground to talk and work through issues, but first let’s find that common ground.”
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