Fitness Program Offers Solution To Disadvantaged Teens in Camden

A Crossfit guru is using fitness to change Camden’s outlook. What started as a small-operation gym in a borrowed space has turned into a growing national chain that aims specifically at impoverished youth.

Steve’s Club has served as a crossfit hub and community empowerment center in Camden for five years.

For gym founder Steve Liberati, the club was his mission to bring out motivation in kids with few resources. Living in Camden — one of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. — was an opportunity to give back to a place that remains poverty-stricken.

“I got to meet a lot of kids and got to learn they have a lot of similar backgrounds, motivation, goals and dreams,” said Liberati. “They just didn’t have the means or the support they needed to succeed.”

Established in 2007, Steve’s Club provides low-cost and free fitness programs, like Crossfit training, for teens coming from tough neighborhoods and family situations. According to the Steve’s Club’s website, the club allows students to train alongside community members, like firefighters, lawyers, doctors and businessmen.

Those with income less than $15,000 are three times more likely to live sedentary lifestyles, reports Bristol-Myers Squibb. The same report suggests cites lack of access to recreation sites along with a general perception of an unsafe neighborhood as large factors in reduced physical activity for people with low-income. The use of exercise in low-income areas could be a solution to disproportionate health problems among low-income people.

The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition reports that 45 percent of children living in poverty are overweight or obese compared to 22 percent of children in households earning four times the poverty level.

The growing concerns for children’s health seems amplified in areas without as many resources, so Steve’s Club opened another 16 locations nationwide in cities with unique socio-economic disadvantages. Liberati hopes to see improvement in those communities.

“Hopefully what they learn here they can apply to other aspects in life,” Liberati said.

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