Group supports a different local nonprofit every month
By Rebecca Berfanger // Photography by Gabby Brock
For Bryana Schreiber, founder of Uplifting Fitness, an organization that supports a different local nonprofit every month, leading group exercise classes was never just about promoting health and physical fitness. It was also a way to connect with other members of her community.
“I love meeting people from different careers and all stages of life,” she said of the classes she has been teaching since 2015. “It’s a great way to bring people together.”
In late 2022, Schreiber started thinking of ways to connect her enthusiasm for group fitness with her joy of working in philanthropy, one of many hats she wears. She is also an adjunct professor at Franklin College, where she started teaching in January, a mother and active participant in her community.
She connected with non-profits she already knew, collaborated with instructors and students from classes she had taught before and started a Facebook group where members can suggest nonprofits they would like to support. She also built the website and found a space at Grace United Methodist Church, where she, along with instructors Shoshana Riley and Kristi Hayden, lead a variety of workouts every day.
This summer’s schedule, which will still include their signature 5 and 5:45 a.m. options almost every day of the week, includes Buda Khi, a martial arts and cardio workout in the morning and an evening class called “Booty Camp.” Mondays; high intensive interval training (HIIT) and a Pound class on Tuesday mornings; Barre Blend exercises, followed by cardio + core on Wednesday mornings; the Fire Drill workout and body/sculpt training on Thursdays; walk/run + exhale on Friday mornings; and a power hour + devotional on Saturday mornings.
Sharing the wealth
After paying for business expenses, including any rental fees, music rights, and other instructors – Schreiber is currently volunteering her time when she leads classes, the rest of the money raised from membership fees goes to that month’s charity.
So far, nonprofit organizations for 2023 have been KIC-IT in January, Johnson County Hospital Foundation in February, Child Abuse Prevention (Columbus Adult Prom) in March, Dance Every Journey in April, and JCPL Foundation & Friends to support the Explore Summer Program in May. For each charity, the organization will do a presentation at the beginning of the month for Uplifting Fitness members, and at the end, they would come in for their checks.
Originally, Schreiber said, the goal was to raise at least $1,000 every month, something they’ve met or exceeded every time. Through mid-May, Uplifting Fitness had raised a total of more than $6,000 that was donated to their first four charities of 2023. They were still raising funds for Dance Every Journey through BecauseOne, and they had not yet finished raising funds for JCPL as the May charity.
This month, the charity is the Boys & Girls Club of Johnson County, where Schreiber’s children go after school. That partnership, like the others, will be more than just a check at the end of the month. Uplifting Fitness will offer a class for the kids during their Summer Madness Program, and free classes for full- and part-time staff.
“We are thrilled to be chosen as the non-profit benefiting from Uplifting Fitness,” said Natalie Fellure, executive director. “We are excited to be able to share our mission with the participants who may not know anything about the Boys & Girls Club. Bryanna is an amazing advocate for the Boys & Girls Club! Not only is she the parent of members, but she also is a great advocate for us in the community and encourages others to get involved in our programs or in our fundraising efforts. The concept of her fitness business is a great way to expose people to various non-profits monthly.”
Every month so far this year, Schreiber and other members have not only been raising money for various charities — but supporting those organizations in other ways.
When they supported KIC-IT in January, they made Valentine’s Day cards for the youth KIC-IT supports, and Schreiber remains involved with their Youth Action nights. The Johnson County Hospital Foundation was the February non-profit, and Uplifting Fitness donated a basket to their annual gala.
Speaking on behalf of Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Adult Prom in Columbus, the chosen March organization, Sarah Forbes said Schreiber would share about their cause on social media all month.
“Bry is the best supporter you could ask for. Whether that is in your own personal health journey, your profession, your hobbies, it doesn’t matter. She wants to be there to cheer you on and succeed, even after the check,” Forbes said.
“All the money raised goes leading up to the adult prom evening, goes straight back into our community with the support and education of Family Services Inc. to educate children in our community what child abuse is and how to report it,” she added. “We choose a prom court. This year, Alyx Fleshman was on court running for queen and the money raised by Uplifting Fitness went to support Alyx and CAP. Bry didn’t stop there. She got a group of at least 14 people to attend the night of prom to extend their support.”
Katie Stahlhut, founder and president of Dance Every Journey, which provides dance classes to local assisted living and retirement centers for free, also enjoyed working with Schreiber when her organization was featured in April.
“Uplifting Fitness has been such a supporter with spreading the word about Dance Every Journey and raising awareness,” she said. “They have shared all of our posts and invited participants to attend our Purse Bingo fundraiser! The instructors are passionate about their classes and the participants are so generous to give back to so many nonprofits. We’re so grateful for all of their time and effort to make such an impact in our community!”
Lisa Lintner, Johnson County Public Library director, and member of the JCPL Foundation Board, last month’s chosen charitable organization, echoed the others.
“We are overjoyed when local businesses and organizations support lifelong learning at the Johnson County Public Library,” she said. “Connecting with the community is one of the most effective ways to promote a library program. … Uplifting Fitness has been sharing information about the Explore Summer Program and other JCPL programs on their social media page, and it is reaching a wider audience for us,” she said.
“We hope it will encourage people to sign up and read more this summer,” she said, adding the goal of the Explore Summer Program is for the community to collectively read for 3 million minutes this summer. “In turn, I’m following them on social media. And I love Uplifting Fitness’s positivity surrounding people getting in shape.”
More than a workout
Members say they also benefit from working out and building relationships with each other and the charities they support.
“I have become friends with many of the gals and enjoy catching up before class,” said member Tara Rucker. “Many times we will head out afterwards for coffee or a walk. I love volunteering and assisting our community, so the mission of Uplifting is near and dear to my heart. Our group also does things outside of class because we have become friends out of attending it. We truly care for one another.”
Pam Eddy agreed.
“Uplift Fitness is more than just a workout,” Eddy said. “It is a community of caring people that accept you as you are. Ready with a listening ear or friendly hug. Real about the struggles. Doing this life together for our physical and mental health. I thoroughly enjoy going to workout and be accepted and just be me.”
“The support that we have been able to give to the community and will continue to do so, feels so good for the heart and soul,” she added. “We have far exceeded our giving goal, each and every month, since we started in January. It is a great feeling. There are even some people that attend off-site functions and/or are actively involved in the charities that we have supported.”
And they’re looking for new members.
“We have several of us ensuring that we engage with new attendees to feel welcome and quickly get acclimated into group,” Rucker said.
“Everyone is welcome! We have a spot waiting for you,” Eddy said.
For more information about memberships for in-person and virtual classed, visit: upliftingfitness.org