Saturday Morning M.A.T.E.S., a new low-intensity workout program, is coming to Plant City. The group aims to encourage and motivate the community to take back their health.
As a paramedic for Tampa Fire Rescue Tony Smith has seen the effects a listless lifestyle can have on a person’s health.
In 2018 his own well-being was on the line following a major health scare the day after Thanksgiving. As he was rushed into surgery he said God laid a mission on his heart, one he agreed to follow through on once he was well.
“Me being in my current career field did not come by happenstance,” Smith said. “For now I know that it was God’s plan all along to put me in the medical community as a paramedic. The skill, knowledge and experience that this service has given me has shown me that we all have our moments and need someone who will help us.”
He reached out to his friend Reginald Gray, who he has known since they attended kindergarten together right here in Plant City. By the time the conversation was done the duo knew they had a similar calling and they began to put in motion a movement they hoped would help revolutionize the residents of their community. They call it Saturday Morning M.A.T.E.S, or Moving All Towards Excellence on Saturday. The free program will kick off on June 1 and will tackle refreshing the mind, body and soul of the community. The low-intensity two-hour workout will be held at the track at Marshall Middle School and will show that being active doesn’t have to be a chore.
“As we get older we get set in our ways and before we know it we have had a rough day and kicked our feet up to watch TV and we look up and it’s 11 o’clock,” Smith said. “I thought we should do something in the city for the people in that physical rut. Reggie and I are going to make this the best two hours of your weekend and help motivate you not only that day on the track, but also have it carry on for the rest of your week.”
Suncoast clinics is coming for the kick-off to offer health screenings. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the group will officially get started between 8:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. Each week will feature a new theme. For the kickoff they’ll tackle blood pressure and stress the importance of staying hydrated. Whether they’re discussing lowering your blood pressure or tackling your anxiety they hope to keep the classes simple and helpful for all that attend.
“I wish that you could prosper, could prosper in your health, prosper in your finances and relationships,” Gray said. “High blood pressure is a silent killer. High blood pressure, stress, finances, the stresses that come from just walking through this life, everything could factor into the state of your health. We want to give back to the community. We grew up here. We want to see our community be the best it can be. This is a real issue and we hope to help.”
The classes start with a moment of motivation, whether that be in the form of a video, speech or rousing song. Then comes the unique workout. This isn’t a weight room or a high-intensity interval training. Attendees will walk, use small hand weights, dance, hula-hoop and perform other calisthenics for a portion of the program.
Then they close with a moment of encouragement to help carry the attendees through the next week.
While the main difference between M.A.T.E.S and other local workout groups is the simple fact that this is completely free. Another striking factor is Smith and Gray are going out of their way to ensure this is a judgement-free environment.
Smith said whenever he has a call and has to pick someone up and transport them to the hospital he frequently inquires about their lifestyle to determine if they’re getting any exercise. All too often he hears excuses of people fearing judgement at the gym, fearing not knowing how to operate the machinery or how to exercise in front of a lot of people. They tell him they can’t afford the gym or they don’t have anyone to go walk through this with them.
M.A.T.E.S. tackles all of these hurdles. The program will foster a sense of community for people of all athletic abilities. Whether they’re avid workout enthusiasts or someone who simply wants to take that first step to getting their health on track, M.A.T.E.S. is for them.
The Saturday events will be a full experience if all comes to fruition, with everything from music to possibly even vendors at the event. Smith and Gray are looking for community partners to help the program continue to grow.
M.A.T.E.S. is for anyone 12 years old and up. You can check out the group on social media or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information or to get ahold of Smith and Gray text or call 813-763-6156 or 813-763-0031 respectively.
“We’re hoping this will help you prime the pump,” Gray said. “If you fall in love with what you’re doing on Saturdays maybe you’ll be inspired to workout, to continue this momentum throughout the week. It’s the little changes that lead to a lifestyle.”