Peoria gym combines exercise with mentoring

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PEORIA (WEEK) — After 2020, Wink’s Iron Lot owners Joe and BJ Winkler wanted to give back to first responders by providing them with free memberships. In turn, those first responders wanted to give back too.

The Winklers decided the best way to do that was to empower the city’s youth. They formed Peoria’s Real Steel, a program that bring together first responders and Peoria teens who need a free and safe place to exercise. Firefighter Eric Crowhurst is one of the program’s mentors.

“[We} do everything we can to help these kids not only learn how to exercise, how to properly train, how to properly lift weights, but we’re also here to guide them, inspire them, just kind of help them inside this gym and outside this gym,” he said.

Jamonte Hurd is a two sport athlete at Dunlap High School and said that mentorship is what made the program so valuable.

“It keeps kids out of trouble, keeps kid from doing stuff they’re not supposed to, keep them out of trouble, keep them out of bad neighborhoods,” said Hurd.

“I use the gym as a therapist, where I come and talk to guys about any personal problems…my diet, when it got something to do with something at home, they’re open to listen,” said Michael Bassett, who’s currently a cheerleader at Grambling State University.

Bassett went as far to say the program saved his life.

“They [are] building us to be not only stronger athletes, better gentlemen, better men, have confidence in yourself, the way we walk around Peoria,” said Bassett.

Learn more about the program here.

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