LIFT up, Virginia Beach

Motivation through fitness benefits Virginia Beach's homeless

Virginia Beach was ranked as the No. 1 fittest city in America by Facebook last year, and now the positivity of that statistic is affecting the lives of the city’s people in need.

Since March 2014, a program called LIFT has aimed to touch the lives of Virginia Beach’s homeless and those in need by Lifting spirits, Improving bodies, Feeding souls and Transforming lives. The program is part of the Jim White Community Fitness Foundation and was designed to motivate individuals to become stronger physically and spiritually through fitness. Individuals participate in two group workouts per week over a month-long period.

"Fitness and nutrition is so much a passion of mine,” says Krista White, the program’s lead coordinator, “but when you can extend it to people who are in need, just seeing the positive impact on them in so many ways—that’s what makes me want to continue doing it."

White says it's not necessarily about getting people fit but more about giving them motivation and courage to go through life, becoming better equipped to find jobs or even just to have the confidence to go apply for a position they want.

Already, she has seen some amazing success stories. In March’s session, White met a 62-year-old man who never knew how to read or write. Because he was able to push himself through the LIFT program, he decided that he would start teaching himself to do these things. Now he is able to read and write because of the confidence and motivation that he gained through the LIFT program.

LIFT has teamed up with The Fit Petite's Jess Horton, who shares her passion for helping the Virginia Beach community. The Fit Petite has helped LIFT with some of the boot camps as well as cooking classes. The women provide healthy groceries and nutrition classes to the folks in the program and then teach them how to prepare meals and maintain a fitness routine.

"This program holds a special place in my heart," Horton says. “LIFT participants graduate the program with tools they can use to become healthier and more successful, leading them toward the life they truly deserve to live."

The Fit Petite, along with lululemon athletica Virginia Beach, recently held a fundraiser, in which a portion of the proceeds benefited LIFT. White says they will use that money to continue with the program this year.

lululemon athletica Showroom; event held to raise money for LIFT program

So far, the organization has held three rounds of programs in March, May and June. The next program will begin sometime in September. 

LIFT has been working with the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, but starting in October, they will extend their program to the Beach House, working with those who are mentally disabled.