During our first months in Boston, we had each other, our home, our piano, and our four walls in the lockdown. Grocery stores shuttered so we purchased canned food from the corner store. The corner owner, white haired, blue capped, and with his face permanently obscured by a mask, shared stories about the road trips from his youth. For an instant, we imagined ourselves to be both young and free.
At home, piano filled our space with my feelings each day. I bought and printed more new music than I have in the past five years.
When the toilet paper ran out, the corner store owner opened a special stash in the back room. We often went in for chips or ice cream or conversation. The corner store, on some days, was the highlight of our day.
Over time, our neighbours revealed themselves, from the 80 year old woman who never smiled, to the chatty man down the hall. Many had lived on the block for over 30 years. I smile when I see them now but I can’t find the right words at the right time.
One evening, we ran into a neighbour outside. He said, “I’m 61 and I’ve been trying to lose my gut. And I need to get out of the house so I try to walk around the building.”
I said, “Jay’s a personal trainer.”
Jay said, “I can train you in the gym if you want.”
The neighbour said, “That’s very nice and I want to look like you, but I don’t think I can afford it.”
Jay said, “I’ll do it for free.”
“As long as you’re willing to try.”
After the first month, the neighbour lost 6 pounds. He told his friends. We met more people in the neighbourhood. Jay and I started weekly fitness events with exercise classes and 5k walks. Jay was nervous to meet people and I was worried that people won’t like me, but we encouraged each other.
Jay and I started a community exercise group called All Muscles in Motion (AMIM), which provides fitness for older adults and seniors. Jay trains a handful of people who are low-income, for free, in addition to regular clients. The gym is intimidating yet it’s where Jay thrives. He puts on his cap and tshirt and marches to the gym. Exercise is not fun alone. The fitness group was started in Vancouver and it slowed down during the pandemic. It’s in full swing in Boston now.
Today AMIM holds weekly fitness events, including 5k walks and fitness classes, as well as personal training and eating plan services. We have 2 main fitness instructors, Jay who is a personal trainer and future Physical Therapist, and Whitney who is a yoga teacher. We have 200 people in our AMIM network, and it’s growing each week.
We want to create community exercise spaces and environments with a permanent studio space. We want to offer personalized exercise classes especially to those who can’t afford to pay for them.
Today we are starting in the South End and Roxbury communities. We need help to secure a permanent studio space for the winter! All Muscles in Motion (AMIM) has an email list where we send out routes (for those in the Boston area) and fitness tips (like this 2 min exercise that helps with lower body strength).
If you would like to support us in this journey by donating to our group, this is our Patreon account for monthly pledges. If you want to give a one-time donation, this is the PayPal link. There’s no pressure to donate, but we would really appreciate it.
It turns out that a handful of people who joined AMIM are musicians. I feel right at home each week when I hear about the performances people are preparing for and the music that each person is learning. The group is so big that sometimes we split into smaller parts and I watch Jay interact with the participants from afar. They rave about him being a great listener. I see Whitney laughing with someone.
I feel my anxiety slipping away when it’s clear that everyone is learning about themselves. I feel that something is finally going right in our lives.There are 2 comments below
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Such a great thing that you and Jay are doing! I am wondering how it’s been going since you last posted. Did you secure a permanent space?
Thanks, Maureen! It’s much appreciated. We pivoted and decided to focus on partnering with community organizations to run fitness events so that we can bring fitness events to where people are going. We’ve been running fitness events including walks and gentle fitness classes each week!