Eric Smoot Hemphill is giving a lot more than butt-kicking workouts this holiday season. Yes, he’s dishing out sets of squats and helping the North Shore torch holiday calories, but he’s also bringing the spirit of Christmas to homeless children and their mothers in Gary, Ind.
For this co-owner of Redefined Fitness in Wilmette, the cause hits close to home. “Because of my background—I was homeless twice in my lifetime, and my business partner [Silviu Gansca] emigrated from communist Romania—in our hearts, we have to give back,” he says. “We understand that we wouldn’t be where we are today without people stepping into our lives.”
Each December, Redefined Fitness brings the spirit of the season to two shelters for homeless and battered women in Gary—Hemphill’s hometown where he once was homeless—delivering bikes, toys, clothes and gifts for the kids, and donations for the mothers so they can buy groceries for Christmas dinner. With over 500 clients, donations add up fast—each year, they collect between $22,000 and $26,000 for the shelters.
This article was published in the November 2015 issue of NS Magazine.