Our program utilizes a trauma-responsive and culture-affirming approach to help male youth, particularly Black males, to overcome potentially traumatizing life adversities that may include exposure to violence, racial and social injustice, and socio-economic challenge. Lifting weights strengthens the body and the mind-body connection, regulates trauma to enable mental focus, and helps youth to develop life-long positive health and wellness habits. Certified fitness, bodybuilding, and powerlifting coaches are strong role models for the youth. The mentorship of the male trainers/coaches, most of them Black, occurs naturally while lifting and contributes to healing. Their mentoring while training inspires youth to strengthen their character in ways that contribute to success in school and in life. Additionally, the wellness practices of mindfulness and yoga teach athletic yoga and fundamentals of stretching and the value of meditation. Character education is infused within these practices as well.
Program-related character-building includes self-confidence, discipline, persistence, taking direction from others, setting goals and working to achieve results, critical thinking, communication and self-advocacy, and overall healthy forms of stress release. Additionally, the program introduces youth to potential careers within the fitness industry and pathways to those careers.
We provide weight training programs for young males in schools, agencies, and organizations to ensure equitable access to fitness training. Our certified fitness coaches lead weight training sessions for small groups or classes, with an emphasis on safety and personal attention. We follow guidelines from reputable sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to ensure that our programs are age-appropriate and safe for youth.
Our weight training programs are not limited to traditional weightlifting. We also incorporate other forms of strength training, stretching, yoga, and aerobic exercise to promote well-rounded physical development and prevent injury. All activities are closely supervised by trained coaches to ensure proper technique and form.
Participants learn proper warm-up and cool-down techniques, as well as breathing and lifting techniques. They also learn the names of the muscle groups being worked on during the training sessions. Through weekly repetition, participants develop muscle strength, balance, and coordination while gaining knowledge of muscle physiology and personal training techniques. Progress charts are used to track the development of muscle strength over time.
At scheduled intervals, participants are tested for strength, technique, and knowledge. This allows them to see their progress and take pride in their achievements. It also prepares them to study for personal training certification when they are of age.
Our focus is on providing safe and effective weight training programs for young males who may not have access to fitness training due to financial or transportation barriers. We are committed to promoting the physical and mental well-being of all youth, and believe that weight training can be an important part of that.
Athletic Yoga and Meditation provide a unique approach to fitness that is specifically tailored to the needs of athletes. This form of yoga focuses on building muscle strength, improving flexibility, and enhancing overall conditioning to support weightlifting and other types of exercise. A critical component of Athletic Yoga is stretching, which is essential for healthy muscle development. Participants are taught the importance of warming up muscles before a workout and cooling down afterwards through stretching the various muscle groups. Stretching helps reduce the risk of injury during exercise and can also prevent muscle soreness after a workout.
Breathing is another crucial element of Athletic Yoga that is covered in the program. Participants learn proper breathing techniques for relaxation as well as for lifting. They gain an understanding of why breathing is critical to strength training and weightlifting, and how it can improve their performance.
In addition to physical conditioning, mental focus is also important in weightlifting, powerlifting, and other sports. Through Athletic Yoga, participants are encouraged to “connect the mind to the muscle” to feel the muscles being worked and avoid injury that may result from lack of concentration and subsequent improper form. The relaxation and breathing techniques, as well as meditation, help participants become aware of their emotions, release stress, and improve their mind-to-muscle concentration when lifting weights.
Athletic Yoga introduces participants to various forms of yoga, yoga philosophies, and different poses. They are encouraged to practice stretching poses, breathing techniques, and meditation regularly outside of the program to maintain their physical and mental well-being. Overall, Athletic Yoga and Meditation provide a holistic approach to fitness that promotes both physical and mental health for athletes.
Aerobic or cardio exercise is essential for maintaining good cardiovascular health. This type of exercise strengthens the heart, which pumps blood throughout our body. But the benefits of cardio exercise go far beyond just heart health. Participants who engage in regular cardio exercise can experience a wide range of health benefits, including improved mental health, increased energy levels, and better weight management.
It is crucial for individuals to understand the health risks associated with neglecting cardio health. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to muscle weakness, poor circulation, and increased risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. By learning about the benefits of cardio exercise and the risks of neglecting it, individuals can make informed decisions about their health and take steps to improve their well-being.
In addition to traditional forms of cardio exercise, participants can also learn about various other forms of exercise that can improve and maintain their health and wellness, including strength training. By incorporating both cardio and strength training into their fitness routine, individuals can achieve optimal results and avoid the negative effects of too much cardio.
We offer a unique approach to helping boys regulate trauma and address social injustice through cultural arts. Specifically, we utilize performing arts as a recognized therapeutic intervention for trauma. Artistic expression is an effective tool for children and youth who find it challenging to articulate their experiences in words alone, particularly in the case of trauma. Through dance, in particular, the pattern-repetitive, rhythmic movements serve to regulate trauma.
Our program focuses on African and African-Brazilian dance, which empowers individuals to overcome insecurities, self-doubt, and apprehension. Each dance tells a story, allowing the boys to express their own experiences, including the special and meaningful, as well as the painful. These dances are particularly suited for children of the African Diaspora, as they provide a healing connection to their ancestry. The stories also teach valuable life lessons that help with decision-making.
Furthermore, these dances offer an excellent source of cardiovascular exercise, lower body strength, and agility. As such, they provide a fun and engaging way for boys to improve their physical health and well-being. Our program is designed to provide a safe and supportive environment, where boys can explore their creativity, connect with their culture, and find healing and strength in the process.
Lifting Inspirations is committed to character building and instilling social and emotional skills (SES) and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in young Black males and other males who have experienced racial or social injustice. Trauma-related behaviors and negative influences are addressed through sport and Black male mentorship, with a focus on infusing life skills into athletic activities.
Our approach involves Cognitive Behavior Change specialists who work with Coach Jai to help youth understand how life situations can affect their mental, emotional, and physical health. Through inspiration and guidance, Coach Jai helps youth overcome negative influences, think positively about themselves, and develop a sense of pride in their racial and cultural identity. Improved decision-making, healthy choices, and essential life skills are emphasized through trauma-responsive lessons that help youth regulate trauma, understand the impacts of their experiences on their mood and decision-making, and focus on their education.
Coach Jai’s expertise is available to help schools and organizations infuse life skills lessons into daily physical activity and sports. With a deep understanding of the connections between traumatic experiences and negative behaviors, we are committed to helping youth build positive character traits that will serve them throughout their lives.
At Lifting Inspirations, we believe that proper nutrition is essential for overall health and wellness. Our program teaches participants about the importance of fueling their bodies with the right nutrients to build strong bones, muscles, and keep vital organs functioning optimally. Our approach to nutrition is based on educating participants about the different food groups, their specific benefits, and how to properly calculate portion sizes for a balanced diet.
In addition, our program covers the impact of unhealthy food and drink choices on health, such as increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. We also educate participants on the importance of vitamins, minerals, and natural supplements, and how they can support a healthy lifestyle. Finally, our program emphasizes the importance of hydration and the role of water in overall health and wellness. By teaching participants about nutrition and how to prepare healthy meals through meal prep, we empower them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.
For those youth interested in competition, we offer specialized training tailored to their chosen event, including bodybuilding, physique, or powerlifting. Our experienced coaches, who are also accomplished competitors, provide personalized guidance on proper posing and lifting techniques.
We encourage teenagers between the ages of 18 to 20 to participate in the National Physique Committee (NPC) events. Meanwhile, all high school-age youth are welcome to compete in International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) events.
In addition, we hope to create local, age-appropriate youth competitions for all young males aged 7 to 19, provided there is enough interest and participation. By competing in these events, youth can showcase their skills, build confidence and discipline, and develop a sense of camaraderie with their peers.
Building a strong mind and body is essential for overall well-being and the ability to provide for oneself and loved ones. Employment and financial stability are crucial aspects of achieving these goals. The health and fitness industry offers a plethora of career opportunities that may interest young males, even those without professional athlete aspirations. Unfortunately, many of these career paths are not typically discussed by school counselors. At Lifting Inspirations, we strive to introduce participants to these unique career paths and provide guidance on the necessary education, training, and employment or entrepreneurial pathways. By expanding their career horizons, we aim to help young males build a strong foundation for their future success.
Martial arts, such as Jiujitsu and Wrestling, support physical and mental health by promoting well-being and serving as therapy for maladaptive behaviors in children and adolescents. These disciplines teach students to overcome fears, build relationships, and modify thinking and behavior patterns. Key therapeutic elements include role-modeling, ethical behavior, physical exercise, and group participation. Martial arts aid in emotion regulation, relationship building, and counter hypervigilance in traumatized youth. Benefits extend to improved balance, musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory health, stress reduction, enhanced sleep, cognitive functioning, and immune system strengthening, making martial arts a holistic mind-body therapy.