Seobia Rivers Says Chicago Is Sharing Your Resources
Written by Vocalo Radio on December 4, 2019
Seobia Rivers is The Fitness & Health Creative.
She is the Director of Health and Fitness at Healthy Hood, a resource created to help provide quality fitness and dance classes at an affordable price to the underserved in Chicago.
We caught up with Seobia to chat about the suburbs, slang and a creative approach to wellness.
To stream this interview on Spotify, click here.
Where in Chicago did you grow up, and where do you live now?
I live in Lynwood. It is very quiet where I live. You can keep your doors unlocked, and you could damn near walk outside naked and it wouldn’t be an issue because nobody’s around. I come from a two parent home and my parents are very hard working. One thing that I love that they did was that they didn’t keep us in the burbs. We were always in the city. We went to church in the city, we still go to church in the city. We did all different types of programs in the city, so it’s nice to have both ends of the spectrum. It’s nice to be in the city with the hustle and bustle but it’s nice to go home and know that it’s quiet and feel relaxed.
As far as growing up in the suburbs, people in Chicago tend to think kids that live in the suburbs have it easier but that’s not always the case. I grew up in the burbs, yes, and it was a safe environment. But not all south suburbs are like that. I went to high school with some people from certain suburbs that were tough neighborhoods. It’s still a struggle in the suburbs. It’s interesting to hear people from Chicago talk about people from the suburbs like that when, really, we have a lot of similarities.
What do you love about Chicago?
What do I love about Chicago? It’s a big city but it feels small. I also love all the food. Man, I spend so much money on food! I love the people. I love the skyline. I love that we have a lake. We got our own culture here. We make up slang, we make up dances, it is good to be here.
Talk about your work at Healthy Hood.
Healthy Hood is my baby, that’s how I look at it. I am the fitness director there, and I’ve been there for three years so pretty much since it started. At Healthy Hood, we believe in making fitness affordable for the community and anybody who wants to come. We have a love and a priority for people of color. We are there to decrease the life expectancy gap between affluent communities and communities of color.
Currently there’s a 20 year life expectancy gap between the two. We see that as an injustice, and we see it as unfair. We are choosing to be a solution to the problem rather than complaining about it. So come out to Healthy Hood, Chicago! We’re not just classes, we have two community gardens. We have all different types of events that we hold, we have pop up classes, workshops, we are making our stamp in the wellness industry and it’s a blessing to be a part of it.
Can you elaborate on your creative approach to fitness and health?
I use fitness, health, and wellness as my art. I express myself in lots of different ways. When I’m teaching my classes, it’s me showing up. I am a DJ because I curate my playlist. I am a preacher because I’m giving good word and food for thought. I’m giving encouragement. It’s not just about working out. I love street art and I love expression. Being a “fitness and health creative” is making sure that people understand that I’m not just a trainer, I am an artist. I created that name for myself because I had to figure out a way to express myself and not to put myself in a box.
How has the city shaped you and your art, career, and mission?
Chicago’s made me a hustler. It’s shaped me to be able to move in all different types of weather conditions. It’s also taught me to make sure that I’m putting on for my people. I’m trying to help my people, my black people, my people of color. It has changed my whole perspective on how I see fitness and health. I have to give that credit to Chicago.
At the end of the day, what would you like to give back to the community?
At the end of the day, I’m giving affordable health and wellness. And I want to continue to do that. I want to continue to work against the system and to give my people a place where they can go to get healthy. Being healthy is all things: mentally, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and more.
I want to give that back to Chicago and back to my community. I want to give them all of the resources that I know about. I’m so open to sharing everything that I know. I believe that we all should be sharing the things and the resources that we have along with the knowledge and education. I see that as my job, and that’s what I want to give back to the community.
Listen to what Seobia’s Chicago sounds like:
Photographer: Tom Gavin
Audio Producer: Fyodor Sakhnovski
Transcript edited by Olivia Cerza
Since 2016, we have been profiling people who give their all to Chicago and enrich us socially and culturally by virtue of their artistry, social justice work and community-building. Take a listen. Read their words. Become inspired.
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