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Posted under: Opinion Culture

The leaders of Harlem Run share key elements for starting a movement, not a moment

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If you told us four years ago that we would become Under Armour-sponsored athletes, find fulfilling romantic relationships, best friends, and a far-reaching fitness family all through the internet and social media, we would never have believed you. But that’s exactly what happened. It all started in November 2013 when, after years of suffering with depression, Alison started a running club to meet other people who might be looking to find meaning on the run. Fast-forward a few years to today, Harlem Run has grown to become a movement of trendsetters, fitness experts and community organizers that create an authentic experience around a healthy lifestyle. Our mission is to empower communities to get fit, and we regularly host 150-250 people on a given Monday or Thursday night who are looking for inspiration, family and connection. Now, we didn't get here alone — it took like-minded, passionate people leading the movement. Amir (co-leader), Kai (co-leader) and Alison sat down recently to uncover the madness behind the movement.
harlem run
harlem run
Photo: Da Ping Luo

1 . Commitment & persistence

When Harlem Run, aka #TheMVMT, started in November 2013, the group was comprised of a party of one: Alison. Had it not been for her persistence -- showing up every week at the same time and publicizing broadly -- we might not be where we are today. Once members started to join, they adopted the same culture. Alison, Kai and Amir committed to being present no matter the weather or occasion, and we have been rewarded for it with a supportive, loving community that pushes us all to be our best!

2. Authenticity

Real recognizes real so being unapologetically who we are has been an essential component of making #TheMVMT such a loving and supportive atmosphere. The more open and vulnerable we are with our stories and struggles, the more members are as well. Regulars refer to #TheMVMT as a family.
harlem run
harlem run
Photo: Da Ping Luo

3. Inclusivity

Harlem Run welcomes people of all abilities, ages, sizes and fitness levels — and it’s free! From a walker to 6-minute-per-mile runner, there is a pace group for you. And no one gets left behind. The inclusive nature of #TheMVMT means that there are absolutely no excuses for why anyone should not join us. Inclusivity means social change.

4. Creativity

Harlem Run is fearless when it comes to taking risks. We don’t compete with others, we just create. Host a themed run in costumes? CHECK. Host a holiday run in celebration of Thanksgiving, New Year’s and Christmas? CHECK. Create routes that take members to new parts of town they never knew existed? CHECK. Our boldness has been rewarded with excitement and energy week in and week out.  

5. Passion

If we were leading #TheMVMT for fame and fortune, we would have been sorely disappointed. What we do is instead fueled by a passion and commitment to make people better.   
harlem run
harlem run
Photo: Courtesy of Harlem Run Passion is the fuel. Your commitment to creativity will push your vision. No matter what, remain persistent. When you remain true to who you are, it will inspire others to join in. Moments come and go, but movements are eternal.

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