Participants stood with their fists in front of their face, ready to throw punches to the beat, their feet shoulder width apart as the instructor, Seobia Rivers, had shown them.

The beat dropped, and the dozen participants started swinging, first a quick punch, then a hook, then a combination of moves. “Knuck if you Buck” by Crime Mob played as Rivers, the kickboxing instructor, described her next move and the group followed.

“Yeah we knuckin’ and buckin’ and ready to fight,” the hip-hop group raps.

The kickboxing class was part of a day focused around health and wellness at the Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House, 100 N. Central Park Ave.

Community members got a taste of several types of workout classes and listened to speakers talk about how they could improve their diet and take care of their health.

“My class, I want you to think about it as this is a physical workout, but it’s also a mental workout as well,” Rivers said before starting her class. “This is your time to practice talking to yourself, cheering yourself up.”

The Garfield Park Rite to Wellness Collaborative hosted the event as a prelaunch to its Black Culture Wellness Campaign, which will offer fitness activities, wellness workshops and nutrition education around various locations near Garfield Park.

The collaboration will offer programs like nutrition fairs, parenting classes, nutrition classes and exercise programs in the neighborhood’s park pistrict spaces and in some school buildings, Crawford said.

Saturday’s prelaunch included Afrobeat fitness, kickboxing, tai-chi, senior chair workout, African dance, African drumming and line dancing. The workout activities were separated by discussions about the benefits of a plant-based diet and health and healthy parenting.

“Chair exercise means that we value our elders and we’re gonna be intentional about developing exercises that helps them get their blood rate up,” said Theodore Joseph (TJ) Crawford, executive director of the Rite to Wellness Collaboration.

The prelaunch event was also a way to show the community what they could expect to see more regularly as Rite to Wellness works toward their goal of opening a wellness campus in Garfield Park. The campus would incorporate fitness, health, mental health, and financial resources all in one place, Crawford said.

“So everything you see today speaks to health, wealth, wellness,” Crawford said. “And it’s a reflection of the things that we value and the principles that guide our work.”

Letti Butler, a resident of the nearby Homan Square neighborhood, sat to rest after line dancing to a couple songs with a group of participants toward the end of the day.

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