CROWN HEIGHTS — Though he spent the first 17 years of his life in the Ebbets Field Apartments, many who grew up with Christian Wise would find the svelte, smiling 21-year-old unrecognizable today.
"I was always obese as a kid," Wise said. "I used to be 250 — now I’m down around 160."
Now, the Crown Heights native wants to help others in his community make a similar transformation. To do it, he's bringing the same tools that helped him shed nearly 100 pounds and stave off Type II diabetes to other local residents as a part of 'Get Fresh,' a combination of high intensity endurance workouts, hip-hop dance and boxing being offered every weekend at Jackie Robinson Playground.
"It's core strength and cardio works — we don’t use any weights but it’s a really intense workout using jump ropes, medicine balls and the standard calisthenics equipment in the park," Wise said of the program. "We’ll be in the park every weekend until the weather doesn’t allow, and then hopefully we can find some space."
Bringing an affordable gym to Crown Heights has been a passion project for many in the neighborhood, including nearby Community Board 8, which lobbied hard to include one in the new development at the corner of Eastern Parkway and Franklin Avenue. But those efforts foundered, while fast food continues to flourish south of the Parkway.
"Just coming over here today, I have to walk through Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, and that’s the to-and-from all day," Wise said. "I never had control over my eating and there was no neighborhood fitness center, but when I had the opportunity to go away and have multiple gyms within walking distance, health and wellness became a priority for me."