Is Dedicated to Creating Lively Communities
As unlikely as it may seem, there are neighborhoods in Houston where there isn’t any access to gyms or wellness programs. Fit Houston was formed to alleviate that situation. CKW LUXE recently caught up with Lharissa Jacobs, founder and executive director of Fit Houston, and asked her to fill us in on the organization’s history, goals, and future plans.
CKW LUXE: As founder and executive director of Fit Houston, please tell us what the organization does, its purpose, and its mission.
Lharissa Jacobs: Well first, I would like to thank CKW LUXE magazine for inviting us at Fit Houston to share a little about our mission. As a nonprofit organization, we are always grateful for the opportunity to do so.
Fit Houston is dedicated to increasing access to free outdoor spaces and programs for all Houstonians. Launched out of the Houston 2036 Task Force on Equity, Fit Houston envisions a city where every community is active, vibrant, and energetic. Our mission is to inspire hope and enhance the vitality of our bodies, minds, and communities through movement. Our core objective is to promote health equity and support active, healthy lifestyles.
CKW: How did Fit Houston get started?
LJ: We actually found our beginnings in the Houston 2036 Task Force on Equity, a citywide initiative that brings leaders together to create and act upon a powerful vision of social justice for Houston’s future. This task force harnessed the collective power of the American Leadership Forum, Dialogue Houston, University of St. Thomas, University of Houston Downtown, Holocaust Museum Houston, and other major institutions to launch the formation of Fit Houston. Fit Houston identified the one thing that could improve daily life for communities; stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cancer; and improve mental wellbeing for Houstonians of all ages and in all communities: free physical activity implemented through a citywide health campaign, free outdoor gyms, a wellness coalition, and community programs.
CKW: Fit Houston’s citywide health campaign, #Walk30, sounds like an important and exciting undertaking. Please tell us about it.
LJ: I think we are a little astounded (in a good way) at how well the public has received the health campaign! The #WALK30 campaign kicked off in January 2023 and created a pathway for CEOs, organizational leaders, families, and individuals to “Take the Healthy Pledge” and inspire others to walk for 30 minutes each day, wherever they are. We want people to share their walking activity through social media posts. Everyone is a role model for each other to encourage walking. We urge people to follow us @fithouston1 on Instagram and Facebook and #WALK30.
A few of the CEOs who are "Taking the Healthy Pledge" include Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, President Khator of the University of Houston, President DesRoches of Rice University, and Dr. Ann Barnes of the Episcopal Health Foundation. There are many other CEOs alongside these great leaders who have let us know of the importance of #WALK30. We are in it together for health!
We also have a free app through MoveSpring. Once it is downloaded and the organizational code FITHOUSTON is entered, participants have the chance to win an Apple Watch!
CKW: Your first partner in the #Walk30 campaign is The Texas Heart Institute (Institute). Please explain why it is important to have the Institute partner with you.
LJ: It is essential that all health messaging is evidence-based and proven from a scientific perspective. It is a great responsibility to ask people to adopt certain health behaviors. Our partnership with The Texas Heart Institute reassures us that trusted medical resources back our messaging. They are experts in cardiovascular health, and with high rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and metabolic syndrome in Harris County, we knew that The Texas Heart Institute was the best possible partner for Fit Houston’s health campaigns.
CKW: What are your future aspirations for Fit Houston?
LJ: Fit Houston has a big vision. We want everyone across Houston and Harris County to have a long, vibrant, and healthy life. Our future aspirations include free outdoor gyms installed in areas of low access (we are collaborating with a company called FitLot), continuing the health campaign to bring in new healthy behaviors that accompany walking, growing our wellness initiative, and developing community health programs through partnerships. We see Fit Houston's influence touching every neighborhood in Houston as we build a culture of health.