For Juneteenth, Rodney Carter Jr. works to maintain his neighborhood match

Rodney "Hurricane" Carter Jr. is a fitness expert and competitive boxer making a difference in the New York community of Harlem by celebrating June 16th with a day of empowerment, health and wellness.

Hurricane Fit Day is a way to uplift the underserved who face challenges in maintaining their health and fitness due to a lack of support and resources. So M&F caught up with its founder to find out why events like this are so important and how everyone can get involved.

Juneteenth (short for June Nineteenth) is also known as "Freedom Day" and honors the emancipation of enslaved African Americans. Celebrated since the 19th century, President Joe Biden finally made that date a national holiday when he signed legislation into law in 2021. At its core, June 16 is a day when communities come together to share hope and positive thoughts for the future. A day earlier, on June 18, Hurricane Fit Day is presented with the same hope for change, with a focus on making health and wellness initiatives more accessible. This event is free to all and includes the Harlem Hurricane Race, tug of war, volleyball, music and other wellness activities.

Hurricane Fitness

Why do some racial and ethnic minorities need health and fitness support?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are a number of factors that can lead to inactivity and poor nutrition among minorities. Many areas of the United States lack safe or convenient places for residents to be physically active, and gym memberships are often unaffordable for those on low incomes. The proliferation of cheap fast food places is leading to unhealthy food choices, and a lack of education about fitness and nutrition only serves to exacerbate the problem.

That's why community leaders like Rodney Carter Jr. feel the need to encourage residents to exercise more and eat better. Carter Jr. is a certified athletic conditioning professional and master trainer. Fighting for Fitness is a heartfelt campaign to bring his passion and knowledge to the masses.

"We strive to close the gap to living a physically fit lifestyle," he says. “Our goal is to build a community and make fitness fun. Creating fun activities that people can use to challenge themselves and set goals are methods we use to create a healthy and active lifestyle. This is needed more than ever as the obese population increases in our society.”

What can be done to improve the health and fitness levels of minority communities?

"Better education is extremely important because with less access comes less education, less awareness and people are less inclined to lead healthy, active lifestyles," says Carter. "If you are not mentally, emotionally and physically capable of living a healthy lifestyle, it will dramatically limit your potential in any endeavor." The 40-year-old gym co-owner originally discovered his love for fitness through boxing, but over the last 15 years he has also built a solid reputation for transforming people's lives, helping them lose weight and adding years to their lives.

While Hurricane Fit Day is inclusive and fun with its array of activities, food, and live entertainment, it's also essential for delivering an important message. “It was created to bring the community together. To engage, educate, empower and motivate,” says Carter Jr. “We're changing the way our community views fitness and healthy eating, leading them to a lifestyle that's not just physical, but also being mentally and emotionally wholesome can also be gratifying.”

How can everyone get involved in community fitness initiatives?

If you feel like it's time to start working on your health, events like these are a great way to start your journey. And if you're a fitness pro, why not host your own free local event? Additionally, individuals and companies can sponsor events like Hurricane Fit Day because there is no doubt that together we are stronger. Make sure you search the internet for a local and accessible fitness resource, and if you're in the Harlem area and want to attend Hurricane Fit Day, everyone is welcome. Contact the organizers using the details here to register your place

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