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Entrepreneur Focuses on the Physical

Paul Vachon

Armond Harris is a man on a mission. In 2012, while working in the business sector, he observed a worrisome trend — premature deaths of people he knew and in the community at large. Diabetes, obesity, and other unhealthy habits were too often the culprit. He decided to take action. In 2012, he started Run This Town Detroit, a free community program to encourage anyone to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

In 2016, he became more personally invested by purchasing Jabs Gym, which has locations in Birmingham and Eastern Market in Detroit. Jabs offers a variety of fitness classes but with emphasis on boxing, kickboxing, and yoga for women and men. Over 50 sessions are held each week.

Harris knows that changing the perception (and the reality) that Detroit is an unhealthy city is paramount. He sees his role as part of a community-wide strategy to change that.

“I talk about changing the total infrastructure — to promote more public green space, healthier dining options, and physical fitness opportunities. Right now Detroit lags behind cities like New York and Boston, which are healthier and more active.”

Harris spreads his message through public speaking and taking an active role in the community. His efforts show progress.

“In 2016, when I bought Jabs in Detroit, we had 43 members. Now we’re up to 3,000 visits per month.”

The gym recently expanded to an extra floor of its building on Russell Street. Harris attributes this to changing attitudes among native Detroiters and the arrival of newcomers from the East and West Coasts.

The beauty of Jabs is twofold: while it exists to offer fitness options to Detroiters, its success reveals how quickly that goal is being attained.

Paul Vachon is a Detroit freelance writer.