Mar 5, 2021 - News

How one Iowa gym wants to end Black fitness inequities

Illustration of a treadmill with a hundred dollar bill for a running belt

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Grace Fitness, a nonprofit fitness center in Beaverdale, Iowa, offers low-cost or free classes to those who can’t afford to pay — and it's targeting people of color.

Why it matters: Black adults had the highest average cardiovascular disease death rates in a study published this month by the Journal of the American Heart Association.

  • Household income had the strongest association with CVD mortality among Black populations and was also a key factor among white people, it found.

The backstory: Zakiya Jenkins lost about 100 pounds since 2015 through diet and exercise and launched Grace Fitness in 2019.

  • The goal is to provide a holistic approach to health through workshops, programs and exercise classes to vulnerable populations.
  • Even at reduced rates of $5 a session, she found the services were still out of reach for some.
  • Last month, she began offering free virtual exercise classes. Donations are accepted.

The bottom line: "I’m a selfish person: I’m tired of burying my family members," Jenkins told Axios.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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