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Serving the Underserved in Atlanta

When you think of working out do you think of doing crazy things like a quarter of a mile of lunges, a few hill sprints and then top it all off with a push-up contest? You might if you’re Josh Guerrieri, founder of an Atlanta-based fitness program called FitWit. His program actually started out of a desire to help underserved students take charge of their health. We hope you enjoy learning more about this wonderful program (and, by the way, beware of the lunges – you might not be able to walk for a few days!). OWG:  Tell us about FitWit and how it started.FitWit_Logo_Final Small

Josh:  My wife Erin and I were teaching and coaching in inner-city Atlanta Public Schools and we saw the need for quality fitness and tutoring programs for the students we served. The combination of those two programs – personal fitness training (FIT) and academic tutoring (WIT) – proved to be an effective blend in addressing a traditionally underserved student population. FitWit eventually morphed into a group fitness program that really took off with adults, but we still wanted to work with children as well. We formed the actual non-profit foundation in 2009 when we realized we could no longer effectively run both our adult and children’s programs under FitWit.

OWG:  How does FitWit differ from a normal gym class or other physical activity that kids might be involved in?

Josh:  Our FitWit program empowers young people to live healthy and successful lives. The mission is primarily served through our FitKids and FitTeens programs, which are fitness camp programs designed for children who might otherwise not participate in any extra-curricular activities in their schools. The after-school camps run for 6 weeks at a time, exposing children to a variety of exercises and workouts, as well as a dose of nutritional guidance.

OWG:  What are some changes that you’ve seen in kids who have participated in your program?

Josh:  Nearly every student who completes our 6-week program dramatically improves his/her fitness level BUT the growth and fostering of the “Well Student” is the underlying theme within our mission. We believe that “character development” is a by-product of our youth programs and fitness is the driver of the goal. We have seen this play out in a number of ways, from students gaining the self confidence to try out for an athletic team to students performing better in school.

OWG:  FItWit quickly moved into an adult program and I understand that you’ve seen quite a few life-changing stories there as well. Which one inspires you?

Josh:  It’s tough to pick just one. A short list pops into my head right away of campers who:

  • dropped over 40 pounds and gained back her life
  • worked his way up from camper into one of my best trainers
  • no longer relies on a variety of medications to get through the day
  • got plugged into a great community and leaned heavily on it during a time of personal crisis

OWG:  You rely on the adult camp to support the kids camp, both financially and with volunteers. How does that work?

Josh:  Our core message is “Get Fit.  Give Fit.  Live Fit”. The give portion is that every camper’s camp cost pays for one free week of FitWit to help an undeserved youth become healthy and fit through the FitWit Foundation.

OWG:  Finally, what’s your favorite snack?

Josh:  Got to go with the nut/seed/dry fruit trail mix that my wife makes. It’s delicious!

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