Elijah “EZ” Muhammad Teams Up with Forging Youth Resilience
Long-time CrossFit athlete and affiliate owner Elijah “EZ” Muhammad grew up in a tough neighborhood but learned from his mother early on the importance of helping others in need.
Since that time, he has been a big advocate for helping young people, most recently becoming an ambassador for the non-profit Forging Youth Resilience.
The charitable organization’s mission is to bring fitness and mentorship to underserved and underprivileged youth in communities by partnering with gyms across the country. The non-profit started back in 2007 as Steve’s Club National Program but rebranded as Forging Youth Resilience (FYR) in 2021.
Muhammad, a two-time Games qualifier, has been in the space for quite some time. While he is known for his talents on the competition floor, he may be even better known for his work outside of the gym and his all-around positive attitude towards everyone he meets.
- FYR holds a youth camp once a year and Muhammad was invited to attend. Muhammad said he’d heard of the organization before, “but once I went to that camp, it just really changed my perspective of what they were doing, how big it was and how many lives are being impacted.”
- “I grew up in a pretty low-class neighborhood. Underserved, very poverty stricken and so I grew up in a neighborhood that was just tough. My mother used to run a lot of nonprofits for youth where they had a space to go for after-school programs, different programs that cleaned up the neighborhood and helped service the neighborhood.”
- “I was able from a young age to engage with these nonprofits, from a young age to experience these things and see that there’s a lot of service that needs to be given back to the community to help uplift and build the community.”
Not only is Muhammad a talented CrossFitter, he is also the co-founder of Project Onyx, a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating barriers for Black and Brown teens and young adults through access to affordable health and fitness services and mentorship.
The goals and mission of FYR aligned perfectly with Project Onyx. By attending the FYR camp, Muhammad was able to see “the hands-on work that I do daily. I got to see other people doing it. And that really sparked me to kind of say, ‘Hey, how can we make this a closer relationship?’.”
FYR has 24 locations or ‘clubs’ across the United States. The way it works is a CrossFit affiliate first has to become a club and from there, the FYR class can be run on or off-site. An FYR class is typically about 90 minutes and includes fitness and time to chat and hangout with the kids.
Another way to get involved is if an affiliate already has an existing youth program, but wants to start an FYR club they can offer scholarship spots to kids who may need the financial help.
The more complicated issue is keeping the kids coming back. Something that Muhammad tries to address through patience and incentives.
- “If we give these kids things they’ll want to come back more until they realize whether I get something or not, this is a space I need to be in. Because I’m getting loved and because I’m getting support and because I’m getting open communication. Because I have a safe space to communicate. Kids don’t see these things on the front end. Those things are on the back end after they’ve become vulnerable.”
- Muhammad, in a modest way, adds: “When kids Google you and YouTube you, that kind of holds a little bit of weight. So once kids looked at who I was, it was like ‘oh, he’s famous’ or whatever they put in their mind. That held a little bit of weight to get kids to come back and continue to stay with the program and workout with us and let us serve them.”
- On the fitness side of things, Muhammad said he isn’t looking at which kids are the most talented or who has the potential, “we’re just giving them a space to understand what health and wellness and fitness would do for you, your mental component and your physical component and things like that. And so that’s kind of the baseline of, what this is going to do for you in the long run is priceless.”
As the brand ambassador for FYR, Muhammad said, the main purpose is to continue to spread the word about what the organization is about and to get more and more affiliates involved. He plans to host some small events to hopefully gain FYR some more clubs and keep working hard to put a spotlight on this important community.
When trying to explain his passion for working with kids, Muhammad shared: “I don’t know, maybe it’s because some part of me as a kid felt what it was like to not be loved or not to have that someone. Since I’ve experienced it, it’s just a part of me that fulfills me because I get to be that for someone else.I feel like every kid needs that man, that guy, that father figure. So I just try to the best of my ability to be that and just make those kids feel loved.”
Learn more about FYR and get involved.