Our History

Urban Perform was established after residents in the English Avenue neighborhood asked for a safe place to exercise.  By providing affordable fitness classes to residents, we are fighting obesity and promoting healthy lifestyle changes in neighborhoods that otherwise would not have access to exercise facilities on the West Side of Atlanta.


Urban Perform started by offering fitness classes to the students at the New Life SAY Yes! Center after school program. We quickly added Zumba classes for women in our neighborhood, formed a partnership with FCA Inner City Baseball, and began providing sports training to the all-star team and eventually all FCA baseball teams. We added another component of healthy lifestyles, nutrition classes, for the SAY Yes! students. More fitness classes were added to our schedule with Bootcamp and Cycle classes. In the winter, the Vine City Vipers Basketball team partnered with Urban Perform for sports training.


Urban Perform’s wellness reach expanded with Yoga classes and Fitness Assessments for the community. In the summer we offered a half-day exercise and nutrition camp to rising 4th-10th graders who live in zip codes 30318 and 30314. A great partnership with Odyssey Villas, permanent transitional housing for formerly homeless families, started in August, to provide an exercise and nutrition after school program for kids living there. Urban Perform’s partnership with Tri-Kids also took true action in August with six students who trained and competed in their very first triathlon!


We received a 3-year renewable grant from the Arthur M. Blank Foundation providing us with funding to move into our very own building at 678 Joseph E Boone Blvd. NW Atlanta, GA 30314.  At this new location, we are open six days per week and offer 11 fitness classes per week.  In the spring our Tri-Kids completed two triathlons and we continued our partnership with Odyssey Villas.  Over the summer we served the Redeemer Community Church and Bellwood Boys and Girls Club.  Through a partnership with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, fresh fruits and vegetables came to Urban Perform in the summer and fall at a weekly Farmer’s Market. Urban Perform rounded out the year with national recognition from Self Magazine, honoring our founder as one of Self’s Women Doing Good.


In February, we hosted our first 5K, inviting people from all over Atlanta to join us in a run through the West side of Atlanta. The summer months were full of new excitement at Urban Perform. The weekly Farmer’s Market returned and a basketball hoop was installed in the back lot, providing endless hours of fun for youth and adults. The POWER UP youth program grew with mobile programs at four After-School All-Stars sites. Continuing into the school year, POWER UP provided PE and after-school programming for KIPP WAYS Academy and After-School All-Stars, while the Tri-Kids entered their 5th season.


While 2016 the most challenging year for Urban Perform, it was also incredibly rewarding. Through the P.O.W.E.R. UP Youth Program and a partnership with Georgia State, UP served over 1470 school-aged kids at 8 different locations during 2016. By the end of 2016, however, UP had found itself in a position that our programs were growing faster than we could imagine, which created trouble in keeping up. In December 2016, our board voted to suspend our family program and close the Vine City gym location, focusing our efforts on our Youth Programs.

While the closing of the Vine City gym space has been unbelievably difficult, our neighbors and community members responded beautifully. They formed action groups, wrote letters, and did everything in their power to help us, demonstrating how instrumental fitness had become in their lives. Upon hearing of the gym closure, one of our members remarked, “that’s okay, but I’ve come too far to stop just because the building’s closing, I’m gonna find another way.” We are committed to Westside Atlanta and will continue to think creatively on how to make exercise and nutrition accessible and affordable to our neighbors. While we do not know what the future holds for Urban Perform, we are thankful for the past 5 years. We care deeply about our members and this community. We hope to find new ways for exercise to be part of their lives.


At the beginning of 2017, after closing our Vine City location, we were offered the beautiful opportunity to move into a neighboring church and continue offering fitness classes. Since the beginning of the year, led by four community members, UP offered 8 fitness classes per week. It was during this year that Urban Perform turned into a truly community-led gym. We are now proud to be run by four women and community members, who work to continue providing exercise to our neighborhood.

Leadership & Staff

Executive Director 

Samantha Watkins

Urban Perform Board of Directors

Ramonica Moore, President

Phillip Robinson, Vice President

Ashley Clarke, Tresurer

Clarice Farrell, Secretary

Additional Board Member 

Arthur Bruce

Markita Jordan

Maureen Sanchez

The Problem & Solution

The Problem

The US obesity epidemic is growing.  According to PhitAmerica, 28% of Americans are sedentary.  We are not only eating poorly, but we are exercising less.  2/3rds of our country is either overweight or obese.  In poor communities, we often find food deserts so many urban gardens are popping up.  But, we cannot only fight obesity with increasing wholesome food opportunities.  We must also increase opportunities to exercise.

The 2014, CDC Physical Activity report showed that 58.9% of GA youth have no access to community centers in their neighborhoods. In Atlanta, Buckhead has 32 fitness centers, Midtown has 13 and Downtown Atlanta has 9.  In English Avenue, Vine City and Washington Park, Urban Perform is the only full service fitness center.

The Solution

Urban Perform (UP) is a non-profit organization making exercise accessible and affordable to the underserved communities of English Avenue, Vine City and Washington Park in Atlanta.

Success Stories


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With a huge smile on her face, Timica shares how UP has impacted her family

How It Started

Timica Stella is a resident of the Bankhead community and has been attending Urban Perform since February 2015. She heard about our $2 fitness classes from a friend during a healthy cooking class.


Timica has gained a whole new awareness for her body and for a healthy lifestyle. She now eats better (measures her food and eliminated sodas!) and values her sleep more. Strength training is her favorite type of exercise. Her goal is to lose even more weight and feel even better!



We asked what role UP has played in Tysen’s journey to better health

How It Started

Tysen Smith, 16, is a Vine City resident who has been coming to Urban Perform since September 2014. Tysen had expressed interest in working out when his mom, Mrs. Laney, saw some flyers in the community. She then checked out the Urban Perform website and thought UP would be a perfect place for her son to get fit!


Tysen says, “Urban Perform has made me a lot stronger in general. With overall better fitness, I feel a lot more confident!”


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He is always looking for a challenge when he walks in the door!

How It Started

Izrael Hinds, 16, has been attending Urban Perform since summer 2015. After an eviction notice forced his family to move to Vine City, Izrael’s dad found Urban Perform. People had been calling Izrael weak and small, so he wanted to see if he could get bigger and stronger.


Izrael says, “I would say, creativity. You can take the weight and use it. You can use anything. You can be creative and feel free with it. I’ve felt welcomed with open arms. It’s not expensive. I can come because it’s free. If I had to pay every time I wouldn’t be able to. I’m really using the opportunities I have.”

Ms. Diane


I was looking for an exercise program that fit me and my schedule, and UP is just that!

How It Started

Ms. Diane, 66, heard about Urban Perform from a friend and neighbor. This made her curious enough to come and see for herself what UP is all about. Her smile and energy light up the gym every time she walks in the door.


Ms. Diane is a regular in the Strengthen and Lengthen Class and has participated in our Partner Health Challenges. She plans to maintain a healthy weight and keep her arthritis in check.




Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 92392
Atlanta, GA 30314


Monday: 6:30 a.m. – 7:15 a.m.
Tuesday: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Wednesday: 6:30 a.m. – 7:15 a.m.,
6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Thursday: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 11 a.m.