Group makes fitness their mission
Members of the workout group that have gathered at Barrie Park in Oak Park. The group was started by Jason Mitchell. | Contributed photo
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:35AM
OAK PARK — Jason Mitchell is on a mission.
First, he wants to take 10 minutes off his finishing time at the Laps with the Chaps Sunset 5K Run and Walk. More importantly, he hopes to inspire his friends and fellow athletes while doing so.
Mitchell has used the sled hill at Barrie Park in Oak Park to train for the race.
“It’s a great hill to challenge yourself on,” Mitchell said.
After Mitchell began running in Oak Park, more people came to train with him. A team of athletes joined together and runs the hill every day starting at 5 a.m.
“At first, people thought working out at five was crazy,” Mitchell said. “It’s all about motivating and transforming your mind.”
After meeting at church, Latasacha Wardlow of Westchester decided she wanted to train with Mitchell. She makes the trip to Oak Park every morning to run the hill.
“Jason is so motivating and a truly wonderful guy,” Wardlow said.
She said the group runs the hill and runs stairs, does weights, resistance bands and more.
“Jason pushes us to keep up with him,” Wardlow said. “We have a great time each morning.”
Tasha Pryor-Wardlow of Westchester and Denise Shorter of Chicago also travel to Oak Park to train with Mitchell.
Mitchell said the group takes health and fitness to a new level. Some are training for the race while others are there to exercise.
“I’ve seen lives truly change,” he said. “I’m so proud of them.”
Mitchell started running in the summer of 2011 after deciding to lose weight.
He participated in the 2011 Laps with Chaps race, not even knowing if he’d finish it. After crossing the finish line in 37 minutes, Mitchell felt like a champion.
He believes races are a great way to push toward better health and fitness. Mitchell lost 54 pounds while training for the 2011 race.
Since then, he’s worked harder and has lost more than 100 pounds total. He attributes his success to his having a team to train with.
“It’s important to have a good team of supporters around you,” he said. “It’s the key to success.”
The Laps with the Chaps is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 20 at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.