Going the Distance for Physical Activity

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A trip from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. spans more than 2,600 miles. It’s not such a hard migration to imagine—airline flights make the trip every single day, and the most adventurous road trippers could probably complete the journey in five or six days.

Riding a bicycle that entire distance, though? That would take weeks of long, tired days filled with mile after endless mile of pedaling that might drive even the most avid cyclist off the road and into the back of a cab.

For Tommy Schneider, though, it’s a welcome challenge—and one with purpose behind it.

Over the summer, Schneider will be riding out the 2nd Annual TRUE Fit Bicycle Tour, starting in Los Angeles on July 6th and making his way across the country to Washington, stopping to host fitness clinics in a number of cities along the way.

The ride will certainly require extraordinary effort, but the message behind Schneider’s trek is what drives him. By teaching fitness clinics across the country, he hopes to promote a healthy lifestyle amongst young people who might not otherwise think that exercise is for them. He noticed how prevalent the issue was while working as a public school recess supervisor in Chicago and observing kids sitting off to the side, content to let their play-time pass them by.

“A lot of them would run around and play, but they just weren’t as eager to do so from what I remember as being a kid,” Schneider tells BTRtoday.

Using his experience as a strength and conditioning coach at a number of universities, Schneider set out to create a program that promoted physical activity and healthy lifestyles that also married his backgrounds as a coach and working with kids. Thus, TRUE Fit was born.

TRUE Fit’s mission doesn’t stop there, however. Schneider also aims his efforts toward lower-income communities, which he feels have been disenfranchised by the health and fitness industry at large.

Even the most basic gym memberships cost upwards of a couple hundred dollars per year. Fitness trackers and other exercise gear, including basics like sneakers, can fall into a similar price range. The health and fitness industry fills the market with continually improved products and services, but higher quality is accompanied by higher prices.

Statistics show that low-income people face far more health risks due to inactivity and are three times more likely to live a sedentary lifestyle. Schneider says one of the ultimate goals of TRUE Fit is to fill the void in the market for low-to-moderate income people by introducing communities to “resourceful ways to engage in quality, effective exercise that can be done without any resources.”

“There needs to be a stronger effort in letting it be known that health and fitness can reach everybody,” Schneider says. “There are so many benefits of exercise to draw from. I want to get across that exercise is for everybody, and whether you think it immediately benefits you or not, you just have to think of the bigger picture.”

Last year’s trip was a good start in spreading that message, albeit over a smaller geographical span; Schneider rode from Chicago to Boston, stopping in six cities over the course of 10 days, averaging around 120 miles per day. Though this year’s ride is more than three times as far and includes far more stops and clinics, he’ll undergo a similar riding schedule on his way east.

“Last year I rode about 12 to 14 hours a day, and obviously I was on a schedule with my clinics,” Schneider says. “It’ll be a similar situation this year. I plan on covering as much ground as possible before I get to the next stop, anywhere from 150 to 200 miles plus.”

It’s a long road, but Schneider remains confident, not only that he’ll see it through to the end, but that his cause will fuel him and spread awareness along the way.

“I’ve never shied away from a challenge,” he says, “and this is the biggest way to get that message out there.”