INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Community fitness group November Project Indy changed up its normal routine on Friday to celebrate Juneteenth and hope for change.
“We realized in recent months that, that’s more than just saying we’re inclusive,” co-leader Jason Shaw said. “We’ve got to put our actions where our intentions are.”
The group asked community leader and November Project member Marvin Smith II to lead the special occasion and put the day in perspective.
“I’ve never led a workout before. Never led a group workout,” Smith said. “With so much respect for what’s going on, right now with the Black Lives Matters movement and with the diversity and inclusion, I couldn’t say no.”
He kicked off the workout with a little history lesson, taking people back to the day some know as Black Independence Day, when Texas became the last state to free slaves in 1865.
The Friday morning workout was just steps away from the “Landmark for Peace” memorial at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
“It couldn’t have been a better location,” Smith said. “From the age, the different creeds, the different races, different religions that were here, it was perfect.”
The game plan was strategic. The workout was centered around two numbers: 6 and 19. Each exercise in the circuit was dedicated to the monumental date.
Like the average November Project morning, it ended with a burnout round — just not a normal one. It’s been 155 years since the first Juneteenth, so Smith wanted everyone to finish with with a final 155 seconds holding a squat. He also had a challenge for anybody trying to push through the last part of the intense exercise.
“Whenever your legs start burning, whenever you want to quit, whenever you want to give up, remember Juneteenth and if your struggle is bigger than what their struggle was, you can quit and you can give up,” Smith said. “If not, keep fighting. Keep going.”
Smith ended the day with a challenge for people to make sure their voices are heard to those who can make a difference.
“Make your community organization, make your school, make your politicians, make our leaders do something,” he said.
Shaw hopes the message sticks with people who participated, and they take a message with them as they think about ways to battle racism and inequality. However, he believes real conversations of progress start with listening.
“Elevate the voices in our community,” he said. “Don’t just acknowledge them.”