July, 2014 Atlanta Magazine Feature
From the road, the old gas station didn’t stand out much from its neighbors—a boarded-up brick two-story building and a green-awninged bodega—on this stretch of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard just west of the Georgia Dome.
But now, a bright new mural with a crouching pink tiger hints that something powerful is going on inside. The space is home to Urban Perform, a nonprofit that since January of 2012 has brought exercise classes and equipment to the English Avenue, Vine City, and Washington Park neighborhoods, an area with few city parks and only one other fitness facility within walking distance.
Just as Atlanta is home to many food deserts—poor areas more than a mile from the nearest supermarket—the city also lacks fitness facilities in some of its most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. “There are ‘gym deserts’ too,” says Laura Pritchard, the twenty-seven-year-old fitness trainer who founded Urban Perform. “When you’re looking at combating obesity in kids and adults, food and fitness go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other and expect to succeed.”