Free Youth CrossFit Class Helps Build Relations Between Police and Community
Wednesdays are Detective Bobby T. Brown’s favorite day of the week. Why? It’s the day he leads Franklin Fit, a free CrossFit class for youth in Franklin Township, NJ.
The big picture: Franklin Township is a diverse community, both socioeconomically and racially. After the events and unrest following the murder of George Floyd last summer, Brown, a full-time police officer, began considering the community’s relationship with law enforcement. He wanted to start a dialogue on ways the department could do something positive for their township.
- Brown, an L2-Certified CrossFit coach and longtime proponent of the sport, started thinking: “What if we just run a CrossFit gym for kids in the area?”
Franklin Fit: In April of 2021, Brown held the first Franklin Fit CrossFit class in the parking lot of the police department’s recently acquired Community Relations Bureau, free of charge. A t-shirt fundraiser combined with a small budget from the police department and borrowed gear from his home gym, CrossFit Stealth, allowed him to collect a small arsenal of equipment.
- Open to grades 7-12
- Each week they gain one or two new members.
- Currently, about 14 athletes show up for class.
- Brown hopes to increase classes to three days a week by the end of the year.
- Official CrossFit affiliate.
Each class starts with a question of the day, something as simple as “what’s your favorite ice cream flavor,” to break the ice.
- “There are a lot of police officers around, and for a lot of [the kids], it’s their first interaction with us. We want to make them realize that we don’t bite, we’re people just like you, we like to train, and to look at us like mentors and coaches, and not the people that show up when bad things happen or when there’s a traumatic thing going on,” Brown explains.
- “It’s a common ground that they’re all new to,” Brown says. “[The youth] all come from various places, and now they have this common ground and this thing they’re learning together. It’s kind of like ground zero for fitness and our relationships.’
- “And, [it’s] from the police department,” he continues. “The police department is giving the community an experience that might otherwise be unattainable.”
The bottom line: As Franklin Fit grows, the bond between police and community is becoming stronger. Brown says the athletes have slowly let their guard down as they view Franklin Fit as “home,” not just a place to go on Wednesday nights.