Meet a Health Hero: Kristin Gavin

» You can vote for Kristin here September 15th through 21st. Mark your calendar! 

Name: Kristin Gavin

Role: Founder of Gearing Up, a program that provides women in transition from abuse, addiction and/or incarceration with the skills and equipment to ride a bicycle for exercise, getting around and personal growth. 

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
My own mental and physical health. Since I was just a kid, I recognized that physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices allowed me to shed the “cobwebs” from my physical body and my mind. As an adult I have a lot of responsibilities to my family, friends, co-workers, and community. For me to be a good wife, friend, neighbor, collaborator, and more, I know that I need to pedal my bicycle and get my down-dog on regularly. Interestingly, my intrinsic motivation for health has only grown in my 30s. I recognize now more than ever that my physical ability to be active is a gift and access to fresh food is a privilege. I try to remember to be grateful for each day I can ride a bicycle, practice yoga, walk the dogs, and eat fresh fruits and veggies.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
It happened at a young age. The majority of my upbringing was spent being raised by a single-working mother. When she would get home from work she would lace up her shoes and head out for a run — and wanting to spend time with her, I would join her. I am sure I weighed less than 60 pounds and had to work so hard to keep up, but I would go jogging with her! I was a kid with very high anxiety, and over the course of those runs with my mom, I could feel a marked difference in my emotions. Those cobwebs shed on every run. I loved the physical act of running and I loved having the opportunity to be out and about in the world with my mom. To this day, I love exercising with others. I think physical activity is a great way to connect with others and build community.

What “policy” would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
I would make navigating Philadelphia safe and accessible for everyone by addressing our pressing multi-modal transit needs. Infrastructure improvements have already resulted in more bikes on our city roads, could you imagine what could happen with some central protected and buffered bike lanes, better signage and painting, and more sharrows? More bikes on the streets would make everyone so much happier and safer! In the meantime, I think our ever-improving infrastructure and amazing bike share system are a great start.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?
Riding my bicycle to and from work. It’s a physical and emotional way for me to check in and out of work. It’s not uncommon to see me riding along Kelly Drive having an animated conversation with, well, myself.

What is your number one piece of health-related advice?
I’ve never returned from a bicycle ride or yoga class feeling worse than when I started. The hardest part can be saddling up, getting those tight yoga clothes on (I know!) or embarking on whatever activity you may chose. Have the conviction to make it happen — you will be able to show up for yourself and those around you in a better way after. Always.

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