CHICAGO (CBS) — While runners all over Chicago get ready for the marathon this weekend, one fitness group is focused on something else.
They’re training, just like everyone else, but their focus is on diversity.
The Chicago Marathon is just days away. Everywhere you look, people are preparing. But for one group, the training is about more than just running.
“We really want to make sure that black people, specifically in Chicago, feel like there’s a space where they can come as they are and feel welcomed,” said GumboFit co-founder Courtney Phillips.
GumboFit is a fitness group that focuses on building a community for the underrepresented, working with minorities in the West and South Side, encouraging healthy lifestyles.
“The value of being on the South Side and building a community like this is, the farther south you go especially, the less access folks have to these types of opportunities in terms of just building community,” added GumboFit co-founder Matthew Manning.
The group is meeting twice a week, preparing for the marathon, but even runners who aren’t quite ready for that, are still welcome.
“We’re going to meet you where you’re at. If you’re not at running three miles confidently that’s okay. We’ll have one of our crew members, one of our captains, run with you for that one or two miles that you’re comfortable doing,” Phillips said.
Now, Nike is getting behind the group, sponsoring GumboFit and reinforcing the importance of diversity in the fitness community.
“That, I think, is an affirmation for runners. That’s part of feeling seen is knowing that you are a valuable part of this community and you’re going to benefit from what this community receives,” Manning said.
Even though the group is focused on minorities, everyone is welcome to join. They just want to create a place where everyone can feel safe to be who they are, while being active.