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Harlem Run Founder, Alison Mariella Désir – Find Meaning On the Run

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Whether you see Alison Mariella Désir in action or through moments captured in photographs, one cannot but help understand why she is loved and admired. Her skill for igniting that “special something” in people through physical activity is infectious. Growing up, Alison’s parents used to say that she had powdered feet; she was always involved in multiple, often competing activities, had a penchant for travel, and was the life of the party.  This characteristic once troubled her parents who wondered if she’d ever just stay still long enough to catch her breath.  Over the past several years, Alison has channeled that energy into running and a deep commitment to improving her own health and fitness and inspiring others to do the same. Now, the Harlem Run founder is full steam ahead, managing a city running group that has garnered the attention of national publications and corporations.

What inspired you to create a running group in Harlem?

Harlem Run is the result of many lessons learned along my journey through depression. In January of 2012, a bad break up, my father’s worsening dementia, and limited job prospects led to me decide that I would sign up and train for my first marathon. I was feeling completely helpless and demoralized and had little faith in myself. I had no confidence or self esteem but, somehow, I had this idea that I could do the impossible and run a marathon. I committed to my training schedule in an almost devoutly religious way- I did not skip a single workout and valued my time running more than anything else in my life. As I moved through my training program, I found that I was doing things that I once dreamed were impossible and I was validating myself in the process. Even though I still did not feel good enough in many ways and found my father’s worsening health condition out of my own control, I could control my running and how I pushed my body. Running became moving therapy for me and I discovered my mantra – Find Meaning on the Run.

After completing my first marathon in May 2012 and raising over $5,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, I decided to start blogging about the lessons that I was learning along the way. I touched on a lot of self-help related topics and, what I would later learn, were key ideas in counseling psychology and sports psychology. As my blog following grew, I felt compelled to start putting my words into practice and wanted the opportunity to interact directly with the people who were reading my blog and feeling empowered by it. In November 2013, I started Harlem Run, at that point known as “Powdered Feet Run Club,” with the hope that it would be the tangible expression of all that I was blogging about and an opportunity to inspire and empower others to find meaning on the run.   That run club is now Harlem Run.

How has Harlem Run grown since its start?

I never imagined Harlem Run would become what it is today. If you ask anyone who is a member, Harlem Run truly is a family. Membership, by the way, is all inclusive- from the moment you show up, you are a member and part of the family. Harlem Run began with just me- showing up and running all by myself, pretending there were others with me — and it has grown to become a group of anywhere from 50-125 people on a given Monday night run. Over the past 22 months, I met several exceptional individuals, including 7 other people in particular who have become captains in the group and take on various volunteer roles, from leading different pace groups (from 7min miles down to a walking group), to organizing socials and events, to designing and creating new gear, etc. We also have some new and exciting partnerships with global brands that we are eager to announce, we will be featured in the November issue of Runner’s World Magazine — we have become a change agent!

Alison Mariella Désir, black fitness today, Harlem Run

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Ilen & Lauren Bell are the husband and wife team behind Black Fitness Today, born, in 2011, out of their motivation to change culture, build a platform and lead the charge. Their purpose is to help change the culture towards health and fitness in the African-American community, showcase those who are making an impact, and promote healthier living. They also aim to serve as a platform for African-American fitness and health professionals and enthusiasts who are otherwise overlooked in traditional fitness media.

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Elise Neal – Fit Over 50 Interview – Black Fitness Today Exclusive

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Watch our exclusive interview with multi-talented actress, dancer and gym lover Elise Neal! Get the full cover story and find out about Elise’s newest role in Wolverine 3 (Logan) and more about the Elise Neal Body Boot Camp on blackfitnesstoday.com.
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FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/blackfitnesstoday
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BUSINESS INQUIRIES: info@blackfitnesstoday.com
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Elise Neal Behind The Scenes + Fitness Tips (Black Fitness Today Photo Shoot)

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Get an exclusive look at the hot cover shoot with multi-talented actress, dancer and gym lover Elise Neal! Get the full cover story and find out about Elise’s newest role in Wolverine 3 (Logan) and more on the Elise Neal Body Boot Camp on blackfitnesstoday.com.
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••­•••••••••••
Keep up with us!
FACEBOOK: http://facebook.com/blackfitnesstoday
INSTAGRAM: http://instagram.com/blackfitnesstoday
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/blkfitnesstoday
BUSINESS INQUIRIES: info@blackfitnesstoday.com
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••­•••••••••••
Twitter: @EliseNeal
Instagram: @therealneale
Snapchat: EliseWorldWide
#EliseBodyBootcamp
••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••­•••••••••••
Music Used (in order of appearance):
“Dee Dee” – @jstar_thedreamer
https://rhymereason.bandcamp.com/track/dirty-dee-dee
“Jeep” – @ahnreekogram
https://mackentyre.bandcamp.com/track/jeep

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Cover Feature

How Will “WillDaBeast” Adams Beasted His Way to Becoming One Of Dance’s Biggest Influencers

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Will "WillDaBeast" Adams

He’s elevated dance. His style is highly sought-after. You’ve probably seen a viral video already showcasing his ridiculous choreography. Will “WilldaBeast” Adams is our Fall 2017 cover and we are excited to share the story of such a dope guy with you all! He’s leaving a mark on the industry that will make it tough for others to make any better.

Growing up as a military brat was difficult for Adams. Moving around often, and not feeling a sense of belonging left him questioning his purpose, as he knew he was meant for more. Once he found his love for dance, he took a leap of faith, trusted his talent, and moved to Los Angeles, to become a professional dancer to artists such as Usher, T-Pain, The Black Eyed Peas, working with TV series such as GLEE, X-Factor and more. He’d later go on to build his dance empire immaBEAST that has global impact. His annual conference BuildaBeast Experience 2017 going on now, is hosting over 1000 participants daily, representing countries all over the world.

The energy Adams’ choreography brings is so infectious, you may find yourself watching his YouTube channel for hours, or deciding to try some of his choreography yourself – be careful though – we’re not responsible for any pulled muscles or sore joints that may come from trying to move like that! The fitness level he showcases is one to be admired!

Dance as a career, or outlet, certainly has its long-term benefits. But even dance as a form of cardiovascular exercise, or stress-reliever, can improve our overall physical and mental health. Scientific studies show that dancing helps improve our core, overall coordination, fight symptoms of depression, and can even keep our brains from aging!

Adams’ chatted with us about how he stays in great shape, what sets him apart, and what empowers him to be a beast!

Willdabeast Adams

What was life like for you growing up?

Life was confusing for me growing up. I moved around a lot of places, because I was a military brat. I lived in Virginia, Florida and Indiana for 12 years. I learned to love all people, try new things and was super involved with sports, as well as arts. But I always felt out of place and that I was destined for something more.

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