Making Strides: The Pivot We’ve Been Waiting For…

Takia McClendon
4 min readJun 7, 2021
Circa June 2017 at Temple University for a City Fit Girls track workout

Over the past few months, I’ve gone back and forth about what the future of Strides will look like.

Should I pivot to create a fitness app?

Should I go back to the drawing board?

Should we finally open that training space and offer group fitness classes?

All good questions with good answers: no, not exactly, and not yet.

However, there was one question that I’ve struggled with that I couldn’t seem to find the right answer for:

Should Strides continue to function independently or should it become a program/service by City Fit Girls (the running and fitness community I co-founded in 2013)?

When I originally pitched Strides to the Well City Challenge, I pitched a running-based fitness program that helped millennials in Philadelphia prioritize their mental and physical health. I didn’t want to re-invent the wheel (there are already plenty of awesome training groups and coaching programs in Philadelphia) so Strides would specifically focus on group coaching for millennials being underserved or overlooked by the fitness industry.

In my initial interview, I was asked “How is Strides different from City Fit Girls?” Here’s how it’s different:

  1. Strides is not a run club. The runs and workouts would be coached by certified trainers, follow a training schedule, and work towards specific goals. We would help participants boost their physical and mental health but also help them cross the finish line of a local race ranging from the 5K to the half-marathon.
  2. Strides will have a membership fee in exchange for access to our digital training platform, gear, in-person coached runs, workouts, workshops, and more.
  3. Strides would host runs and workouts in neighborhoods beyond Center City Philadelphia.
  4. Anyone could join.

I realized I got so caught up in making sure Strides was different from City Fit Girls that I missed all the chances to see how the two could exist more cohesively.

After going back and forth for MONTHS, I’ve made my final decision: Strides will be a running and fitness-based community that helps millennials prioritize their mental and physical health but it will be “powered by” City Fit Girls.

That means we can bring the same positive energy and “no runner left behind” attitude to Strides that City Fit Girls members get to experience during every run.

Yes, a run coaching program where no runner left behind.

All fitness levels.

Cheer zones and support at local races.

Team events and workshops all year long.

Discounts and offers from our partner brands.

Prioritizing mental and physical health (NOT pushing you to do things your body isn’t ready to do and NOT shaming you for missing sessions or not meeting a training goal)

Strides members will get to train with a supportive group for weeks and be led by great coaches who meet you where you are. At the end of a training season, you’ll show up on race day (in team singlets 🤩) and show off all of your hard work as you cross the finish line. It’s going to be great.

Q&A:

So is Strides changing? Nope. Everything about Strides stays the same except instead of creating a brand new business entity, we will continue to utilize the established relationships, platforms, and community that has been in place since 2013.

Do I have to identify as a woman to participate? Nope. Anyone can join.

OMG What about City Fit Girls group runs? Are they disappearing forever? Don’t worry, City Fit Girls FREE group runs aren’t going anywhere! Our group runs are NOT part of an organized training group, membership, or coaching program. They’re opportunities to catch up, run leisurely and grab ice cream after a Wednesday night bridge run.

What can I expect at an in-person Strides workout or run? A good time. Our week-day meet-ups will combine intervals and some bodyweight circuit training for a fun (but challenging) experience. During race training season, we’ll also have weekend long runs.

Can you tell me more about those long runs? Saturday long runs will likely meet at Lloyd Hall but Forbidden Drive, Cobbs Creek, and other locations are on the table.

When can I sign up? Nothing is finalized but I’m hoping our first big race as a team will be the Rothman 8K (and maybe even the Philly Half) in November meaning we’d be up and running by September. Whether you’re an experienced runner or you haven’t run your first mile, you’ll be able to join Strides.

What if I’m not in Philly? There will be a digital-only coaching option that you can access from anywhere.

What’s next for the Well City Challenge? I will be pitching to a roundtable of investors for funding. Terrifying, I know. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be working on our pitch decks and getting ready to present our “final” idea to the world. Follow me here or on Instagram for updates.

Thanks for reading!

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