Wellness Weekend: Honoring My Health In Harlem

September 5, 2018  |  

Healthy living may save you money in the long term, but let’s face it, being fit isn’t cheap. Exercise classes can cost up to $35 a session and clean eating, well, let’s just say it can easily clean out your bank account. Thankfully, alongside popular chain grocers, workout centers, and eateries, a number of community-based businesses are popping up with a commitment to making fitness as affordable as it is accessible. And I’ve found four right in my own neighborhood of Harlem that are Black-owned and operated.

Harlem HIIT


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Powered by Physical Therapy of Harlem, Harlem HIIT is an affordable fitness program launched by Jahkeen Washington and Thomas Boatswain of JTW Fit that includes group exercise classes and semi-private and personal training. The popular HIIT training and boxing classes range in price from $13-$15 each, while small group strength training and 6 am Breakfast Club sessions for the early birds will run you just $20. Circuit and interval training as well as total body conditioning are all apart of this workout program that’s as much a business as it is a service to people of color who want to enhance their wellness but don’t have the tools to do so. And as a result of the tone Jah and Thomas have set, Harlem HIIT is also a supportive and encouraging space for all attendees regardless of where they are in their fitness journey, which is why members proudly consider themselves a #FitFam.

Harlem Cycle

Cycling isn’t for everybody, but it can be at Harlem Cycle, the first boutique indoor cycling studio in Harlem. Started by Tammeca Rochester, classes here will make a believer out of anybody who’s ever questioned whether spinning is for them. There’s variety in not only the focus of the sessions, which range from basic cardio to sculpting and interval training, but also the music. If you live and breathe soca, Reggae Rundown is for you. If rap tracks are the only thing that keep you motivated to sweat, sign up for a 45-minute Hip-Hop class. I promise you will have a good time.

Branson Got Juice

I’m warning you now that I cannot be held responsible for any addictions that come about as a result of your awareness of Branson Got Juice. This west side staple offers a variety of healthy beverages, from fresh-pressed juices to delicious smoothies, carefully crafted with consumer’s specific needs in mind such as hydration, inflammation, congestion, energy, weight management, and more. (My personal favorite is the Pat Porter which has almond milk, peanut butter, whey protein, banana, and blueberry.) In addition to the reasonably priced drinks — a 32 oz smoothie will run you just $12 — healthy soups like turkey chilli with beans, cream of broccoli, and butternut squash and apple are also available for purchase.


All the exercise and juicing in the world won’t mean a thing if you blow all of your hard work in the gym on bad eating. I also don’t know if I really need to sell you on Elma’s because one look at the meal of the day above should be enough to entice you to stop into this dope spot. But here’s a bonus tidbit about the healthy soul food dishes you’ll find in this restaurant: They’re all prepared by owner James D. Brown (Jimmy), using his late grandmother Elma’s recipes. How can you not give it a try? There are also a plethora of healthy juices and smoothies that you can sip on while your meal is being prepared.

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