Service, Scholarship, Leadership

Published by Samantha Watkins on


Our Founder, Laura Pritchard, was featured on the front page of the University of Virginia”s Curry School of Education Kinesiology Newsletter.

SERVICE, SCHOLARSHIP, LEADERSHIP: Curry alumni excel in their professions

You Opened a Gym Where?

Laura Pritchard (B.S.Ed. ‘9, M.Ed. ’10 Exerc Phys) opens a nonprofit fitness center in the heart of a low-income Atlanta neighborhood

Imagine living in a neighborhood where the nearest grocery store is over a half hour’s ride on the city bus. Where criminal activity takes place openly in plain sight of children playing in the streets. Where recreational running in the neighborhood is not an option and there are no public places for organized exercise.

These are the conditions Laura Pritchard observed in an Atlanta neighborhood called The Bluff when as a second-year at U.Va. she took a year-long break from courses to do community service work. A dream began to formulate in her mind—a plan to help ameliorate the exercise and nutrition injustices she had observed.

The dream stayed with the southwestern Virginia native as she went on to complete a graduate degree in exercise physiology. It followed her as she worked with two national championship U.Va. tennis teams as their strength and conditioning coach.

In 2010 she moved to Atlanta and found a house across the street from Booker T. Washington High School, where Martin Luther King, Jr., attended as a youth. Little did she know that her vision would become reality so quickly.

Last January she opened a non-profit gym called Urban Perform located in English Avenue in a renovated warehouse owned by New Life Covenant Church. Pritchard is the gym’s executive director and chief fundraiser, as well as fitness instructor.

“I have probably stayed up later working on projects for UP than I ever did working on papers in college,” she told Atlanta’s Plywood People blog. “The desire to have a nonprofit that is truly making a difference in the community is boiling in my veins and makes me so excited I cannot sleep.”

“I have probably stayed up later working on projects for UP than I ever did working on papers in college.”

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