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Chopping it up
These week I chopped it up with Englewood native and small business owner Andrea NaTay. Andrea is the Owner of Forever Fitness Chicago, the Race Director of Englewood 5K, which over 1,000 Chicagoans participated in last year, and the League Coordinator for Englewood Police/Youth Baseball League. Andrea NaTay is known on the streets of Englewood as the “Trainer Lady.” A fitting title for a Chicagaoan that hosts a 10 week bootcamp at Hamilton Park. The entire community is welcome to attend her trainings, and at $5.00 per person, it’s a lot more cost effective than Gold’s Gym or YMCA.
I met up with Andrea at Dream Café & Grille, located at 748 W. 61st St. Head Manager Dwayne Powell & Team, always dreamed of bringing a better food option to a food desert, hence the name Dream Café. To Andrea, this is her office. She ordered a Steak Salad, and I had Jerk Chicken and Garlic Mash Potatoes.
While eating, Andrea and I chopped it up about the Chicago music scene. She wasn’t into anything particular right now, because she’s listening to an Audio book, “The 48 Laws of Power.” We also chopped it up about her community group affiliations, which include Resident Association of Greater Englewood. Andrea is also the founder of the annual Englewood 5K “Ditch the Weight & Guns” race. Last year, over 1,000 people attended the 5k, including Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. Andrea showed me a copy of the Golden Embossed City Hall Resolution for the Englewood 5K. She carries it proudly, I don’t blame her. This year’s Englewood 5k will be held on November 1st.
Harper Cardinals & the Latch Key Kid
Our next stop was at Andrea’s alma mater, Harper High School. Proceeds from the first Englewood 5k went to the Harper High School football team. It was a coincidence that we ran into the players and Coaches in the Parking lot. While walking around the school Andrea told me that she got pregnant at 15 years old. “I walked across the stage at graduation with my two year old son.”
As we walked down memory lane an old classmate passed by. They hugged and caught up. He spent the first two years of high school in Jail. He said he was a Latchkey Kid, a term used for a child who returns from school to an empty home because their parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is left at home with little parental supervision. With the help of John Zeigler, a community activist, this guy was able to turn his life around and graduate high school in 1996.
Andrea took me to her old block on 66th & Seeley. We ran into a few of her old friends that were out on the block drinking 1800 Tequila, and enjoying the beautiful Chicago weather. I played basketball with some fellow Chicagoans across the street. We had a dunk competition on a 9 foot hoop. It was a blast.
Andrea started the fitness class off with humor. She called out a regular participant that tried to walk in unnoticed. “Oh, is that new work out gear I see,” she said. The entire gym broke out in laughter and applause. Andrea really seems to have the pulse of the community, people show her love, and she returns it like Devin Hester.
Andrea put the group of 30 plus women through a one hour workout that included dumbbells, jump ropes, lunges, resistance cords, barbell lifting, kettle weights, etc. Then afterward the group headed outside to run a timed mile. Once again, Andrea called out one of the participants for running cute. Everybody broke out into laughter. Andrea’s vibrant personality energizes the group to push even harder.
Even though the group finished the workout session with 3 minutes to spare, Andrea put the ladies through more stretches. “I promise not to cheat you. You will never get out of one of my workouts early. My goal is the make you guys sore for the weekend.”
I think she achieved her goal.