Jim White, of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios, was teaching an evening boot camp to clients at the Virginia Beach oceanfront when he was taken aback by the homeless people sleeping on benches, living in despair and inactive.
It was in that moment that LIFT was born. LIFT, which stands for Lifting spirits, Improving bodies, Feeding souls and Transforming lives, is “a program that incorporates nutrition education, exercise and motivation to help people in need get back on their feet. Jim knew the power fitness and healthy nutrition had on someone’s life and how a little motivation can help change anyone’s life,” says Krista White, Jim’s wife and the co-founder of LIFT.
LIFT is a 90 day program that cycles up to 4 times a year. In each LIFT session there are a maximum of 20 athletes (participants) from agencies that house and/or care for the homeless population. LIFT has worked with PiN Ministries, the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center, The Beach House and Salvation Army.
The feedback from those in need when confronted with the idea of committing to LIFT might be a surprise to most. Krista has found that “people who are at the depths of despair deserve a break, an opportunity, a chance, a lift in the right direction. Some were never given hope, never lead, never taught to believe in themselves. We do just that. Our Athletes love the program!”
The 90 day program is designed with the four principles of LIFT as the epicenter of everything.
The LIFT program was designed to help motivate, energize and inspire others to believe in themselves while unleashing their full potential. In each session volunteers motivate members to push forward and create a more positive mind frame. LIFT has seen its participants gain confidence, which has inspired them to get jobs, improve their health, and lift their spirits in all areas of their life.
Every session in the LIFT program includes a cardiovascular and strength workout that is geared for any fitness level. Highly credentialed trainers lead boot camp style group exercise and volunteers lead walking and jogging programs or help to motivate throughout each session. The staff tracks the participant’s progress by recording their weight and waist measurements every week. LIFT also gives participants pedometers to track their steps. At their closing ceremony, LIFT recognizes their achievements and hands out awards for perfect attendance, most pounds lost, most steps taken, and more. In one of our programs, one participant walked 217,000 steps in 4 weeks, which for most people translates to around 100 miles! The exercise piece of the program is vital in helping to improve participant’s bodies and lives.
Nutrition is such a large part of the health equation, which is why the LIFT program incorporates nutrition education and provides cooking demonstrations for the participants. Volunteers teach participants what to eat, when to eat and what foods will help to nourish their bodies and help improve overall health. LIFT has registered dietitians, nutritionists and professional chefs come in to teach participants how to cook, shop on a budget and know the appropriate portions of food to get and stay healthy. In addition, LIFT provides healthy snacks and recipes to our participants to help feed their souls nutritionally.
LIFT’s focus is to transform the lives of those in need. The motivation provided by the staff, combined with the exercise instruction and nutrition education, helps improve each member’s physique, stress level, sleep, confidence, energy and overall health. The program helps those in need feel like they are a part of something, accountable to someone, and most importantly, proves to them that they can overcome resistance, push past obstacles and make better choices. In addition, LIFT assists athletes with employment, housing and other aspects of their well-being. As an end result, this is what transforms their lives.
LIFT’s track record speaks for itself. The LIFT team is changing lives, lifting spirits and making a difference in the community. One particular man with a timid personality and kind eyes came to Krista’s mind as she shared a touching account of a life changed through LIFT: “When you first met him, he would shy away, but with further conversation he would light up each time we came to the facility. He was gentle and soft spoken. You could tell each sentence he spoke was well thought out and calculated. He meant what he said and said what he meant, which was always something caring and thoughtful. This Athlete came in to our program broken, you could tell from day 1. By the end of the 90 days, he was whole. He believed in himself. And with that new found confidence, we set him up with an interview with one of our contacts, and he is now successfully employed!”
LIFT is possible because of Jim, Krista and dozens of kind-hearted volunteers willing to commit to give their time throughout the 90 day program. Krista finds the program to be about so much more than giving those in need the tools to lead a healthy lifestyle despite their circumstances. She explains, “We help people in need feel a part of something, be accountable to someone, and most importantly prove to themselves that they can overcome resistance, push past obstacles and make better choices… which in turn improves their overall life.”