Army veteran fights childhood obesity by creating youth gymnasium

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EUCLID, Ohio – An Army veteran who watched his cousin battle childhood obesity has carved out his own mission. Now a personal sports coach, Calvin Love works with the littlest of clients, determined to help other young children get back into better shape while building their confidence.

Love’s actions and its one-of-a-kind gym help create A Better Land.

Training is now commonplace for 15-year-old Russell Peterson, but four months ago it wasn’t. He came to Little Giants Gym hoping to make some serious changes.

“I didn’t like my body so much. I wanted to lose weight, ”the teenager said.

Russell says he had a goal: “To lose about 35 pounds.”

With the help of the Little Giants Fitness Center and Head Personal Trainer and Founder Love, Russell was able to effect his transformation.

He surpassed his goal of losing 35 pounds, and it wasn’t long before his friends and classmates took notice.

“They’re just going to come over to me, is that you?” You’ve lost so many pounds. It was unbelievable. It was unbelievable. It was like a dream come true, ”said Russell.

“We developed goals specially designed for him and after a week he lost seven pounds. Another week went by and he lost another three pounds. It ultimately changed the way he viewed himself, ”Love said.

In 2017, “Coach Cal” created this program and space known as “Little Giants”.

He told News 5 that it is the only gym in the state that targets children between the ages of 6 and 17 to help them achieve their fitness goals while battling childhood obesity.

“Childhood obesity plagues our community. We have so many kids who live sedentary lifestyles, ”Love said.

The Centers for Disease Control says childhood obesity is prevalent among children of color, with black and brown children recording the highest rates – 24.2% and 25.6% respectively – compared to white children, who have a rate of about 16.1%.

Love said things had worsened since the pandemic, with children cutting off physical activity and extracurricular activities.

“Many of them develop diabetes and hypertension at an early age,” he said.

Whether it’s boxing, HIIT classes, ellipticals or nutrition classes, Little Giants uses a range of tools to teach kids the importance of correcting bad habits and building discipline, right now.

“Unhealthy children, grow into unhealthy adults. We want to create healthy adults. We teach them to read a nutrition label. We teach them what sugar does to your body, ”Love said.

Since the inception of Little Giants, Coach Cal says he’s been able to help around 300 kids, like Russell, build their self-esteem.

“I was motivated from the start and he helped me even more with confidence and even more motivation,” said Russell.

“It’s so rewarding. He’s worth the pain. Just knowing that you are actually seeing and witnessing a transformation, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, ”Love said.

Children’s subscriptions for Little Giants start at $ 25 per month.

Coach Cal says he is currently trying to raise funds to move to a larger facility and purchase a transport van, which will help him serve more children.

To learn more about the fitness program and the gym, click here.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates the deep-rooted systemic issues of Northeast Ohio. Additionally, it highlights community heroes who are fighting for positive change in Cleveland and across the region. If you have an idea for the story of A Better Land, let us know here.


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