Nonprofit encourages active, healthy lifestyles in Lansing area

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By Brooke Kansier

If you live in the area, you have likely driven past the sports retail shop, Playmakers, plenty of times. Located in Okemos, the storefront does much more than sell soccer balls and running shoes- their nonprofit Fitness Foundation is making a big difference in the surrounding communities.

“The Playmakers Fitness Foundation was created because the storefront wanted to become more involved in its community,” said PFF volunteer Kasey Mathews. “The employees at Playmakers really care about the people who live here, and they wanted to make a difference for them.”

The PFF was founded in 2011 with the goal of empowering the community to adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle by providing opportunities for people to move.

“The foundation’s mission is to get people moving more, and moving better,” said Michelle Phillipich, an event organizer for the foundation. “Our goal is to get people more active, but to also do that in a way that is healthy and safe.”

The foundation hosts events such as fitness classes, fun runs and women’s events. Their most recent event, held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, brought in 130 women runners. Proceeds went to funding foundation programs and classes.

“Fitness builds a healthier community, and it builds camaraderie within the community,” said Phillipich. “Our events bring people together.”

In previous events, PFF has supported causes such as Special Olympics Michigan Area 8 and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Another race benefitting the Susan G. Komen Foundation will be held later this April.

“We support what is important to us,” said Mathews. “It’s great to be able to give money to these causes because they really make a difference.”

Education to move better

“The most important thing we do isn’t make people more active,” said Mathews. “It’s showing them how to do it with good form so they don’t hurt themselves and are able to work the right muscle groups.”

Team Playmakers are training teams sponsored by the Fitness Foundation, ranging from women’s groups to a triathalon team. People can sign up online, in-store or at any of the teams’ kickoff events.

“The teams have coach-supported runs and we support members through their training goals,” said Phillipich. “We have any distance, any pace meetings.”

Good Form: Running and Intro to Good Form: Walking classes are also held at the Playmakers storefront, taught by one of the foundation’s 10 coach staff.

Registration for classes and a class schedule can be found on the Playmakers website. Registration for Team Playmakers can also be found online: cost ranges from $65 to $110.

“Our main focus is to teach people how to properly run or walk in order to prevent injury,” said Phillipich.

Opportunities to move more

PFF kicked off its most recent race series over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, with plentiful events leading into the next couple of months. A schedule of upcoming events can be found online.

“The next in the series is Run for the House, in April,” said Phillipich. “We are also kicking off Good Form Month in May, and the schedule will be packed full of events.”

Other upcoming runs feature causes such as Autism Awareness, a Run for Reading and an event supporting Hannah’s House, an organization that helps homeless pregnant women and their babies.

“Making a difference. That’s what it’s all about,” said Mathews.

Registration for these and other events can be found on the Playmakers website, and range in entry price. Those interested in volunteer opportunities can also apply online, or stop by the Okemos storefront.

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