ABOVE PHOTO: Chris Smalls, owner-365ive Fitness and Boxing Loft
By Kharisma McIlwaine
The phrase “I’ve got to get my summer body ready!” has been echoing nationwide especially after the comfort and comfort food that the pandemic lock down provided. As the world is opening back up and fitness becomes more central to our day-to-day activities, it is important to note that fitness offers so much more than just an appealing aesthetic.
North Philadelphia native Chris Smalls pivoted from the world of construction to bring health and fitness to the Philadelphia community. On May 23, Smalls opened 365ive Fitness and Boxing Loft, in an effort to provide a way for Philadelphians to cultivate and maintain their physical and mental health. Smalls spoke with The SUN about his journey thus far.
The transition from construction to business owner was not an easy one, but a challenge that Smalls believes was well worth it.
“It was a life lesson. It was a struggle, but it taught me a lot about patience, timing and discipline which motivated me,” Smalls said. “I wanted to help others, especially with the pandemic. Fitness has always been my dream. Helping people get a better lifestyle starts with health — health is wealth. At one time, I was once obese and it wasn’t good. It made me depressed. I woke up one day and decided to put in the work.”
Smalls shared that the start of his fitness journey helped aid him during his personal experience with depression.
“Fitness is relaxing; it helps relieve stress and once you look good, you feel good,” he said.
The boxing aspect of 365ive came from an organic place — seeing the culture of boxing from a young age.
“Growing up, coming from where I came from… you’re angry because of the things that you’re surrounded by,” he said. “The only thing we know is what we see and that’s fighting — and I loved to fight. Now I understand that you can help others get into a position to make a living doing what they love to do.”
365ive sponsors their own fighters with contracts, giving the youth an opportunity to learn the business aspect of the boxing world. In addition to boxing, the 365ive has a mission above all else to connect with the community.
“We offer family, [connections] and contacts,” he said. “We try to lead by example, especially for the youth.We want to be big brothers and sisters. It’s more than just a membership at 365ive.”
The sense of community at 365ive is reflected in the types of classes and activities that are offered which include self-defense classes, after school programs and classes on financial literacy.
“Not everyone wants to box or do karate, but with the self-defense classes you can still learn how to protect yourself.” Smalls added, “growing up in the neighborhood that I came from, there weren’t a lot of things offered to us as far as financial literacy, money management, real estate investment, vision board classes and a lot of us sleep on dreams. We want to help people learn about LLCs and what to do with them once you get one. Our goal is to help educate people and make dreams a reality.”
Smalls and the 365ive family earnestly sought to connect with the community through the pandemic, offering free classes, which brought a lot of new members to 365ive. Moving forward, Smalls shared his hopes for growth and for the people that become part of the movement.
“I would like to see another 365ive come out of this, but most of all, I would like to see happy people appreciating the facility and what I have to offer coming here. I want to see people become part of the family.”
365ive also has a juice bar, smoothies and offers meal plans to further promote a healthy lifestyle. 365ive is a 24-hour facility that offers a wide variety of options for people at all points in their fitness journey. 365ive Fitness and Boxing Loft is located at 1855 N. 5th Street.
Follow their journey on Instagram @365ive_fitnessloft_ and join the movement.