Samad Hinton, founder of BLK Beetles, activates community spaces for the everyday BIPOC athlete in order to build fellowship and amplify voices for wellness. Inspired by his family’s wellness journey, Samad started the BLK Beetles Run CRW in July 2021 as a means to create a social running community that centers community values of liberation, tribute, well-being, and xFuturism. The CRW runs in downtown Houston and has grown into a community space for all runners and athletes to feel a sense of agency and belongingness. The only thing required of CRW members is to dedicate each run to someone or something they believe in - also known as a Tribute Run. Samad believes in hometown love and in addition to residing in Houston with his life partner Kelly, he is a South Florida native from Fort Lauderdale. Samad and BLK Beetles invite you to join the BLK Beetles Family and #comerunwithus.
Tell us, what excites you about your work right now?
At BLK Beetles we are excited about being in the community and introducing new outdoor experiences. In July 2021, we created our social running community (the CRW) as our first physical activation initiative. Within this social and active community, we are excited about the opportunity to further expand our trail running experiences and enhance our efforts to promote more diverse and inclusive outdoor spaces. When we launched BLK Beetles in 2020, we envisioned a place where community members could access a body affirming and inclusive wellness practices from anywhere in the world. We understand what it feels like to walk through a personal well-being journey alone and realizing the most important piece missing from the journey is community.
What feels rich and abundant in your work?
In starting the BLK Beetles Run CRW, the goal was simply about creating a safe wellness space for bodies of culture to experience running and movement together. After hosting over 30 community runs, to witness Saturday conversations turn into friendships, parents showing up to run with baby strollers, and raising donations to support local community refrigerators and back-to-school efforts is more than we could ever envision. It is in these moments you realize the goodness and richness that comes from centering belongingness in creating community.
Who do you dedicate your work to?
For me, I always dedicate my work to my life partner, Kelly, my mother, my two siblings, and my father who transitioned in 2016. It is their love, kindness, and support that continues to motivate my wellness journey and practice.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from ancestors, elders, peers, and youth who have fought for or continue to fight for humanity and the right to “be well” for bodies of culture. This collection of humans has taught me that the fight to see the humanity within bodies of culture and our right to “be well” requires one to be audacious, love fearlessly, and live in purpose.
Currently, I am reading “Decolonizing Wellness” by Dalia Kinsey, “Who is Wellness For?” by Fariha Róisín, and “Permission to Dream” by Chris Gardner.
What something you didn’t know, that now you understand differently with wellness?
Growing up, in my community, the notion of wellness was associated with playing sports - from training to nutrition - but did not go beyond what wellness means to those who did not play sports and were just trying to live healthy lives. From my lived experiences and understanding of wellness, I have come to believe the future of wellness must also be heightened to focus on the overall well-being of society. Well-being is a more comprehensive view into a person’s physical wellness, mental wellness, and perception of being able to create a meaningful life. By examining wellness under the premise of well-being, we have an opportunity to design new approaches on how information and resources relating to wellness flow through under-resourced communities.
What is your own wellness practice? How do you find balance?
Right now, I am training for a half marathon and so most of the week involves running. Outside of training, each day I am always trying to find the balance within my wellness practice between being a spouse, family person, entrepreneurship, and working full-time. I found tools such as journaling, meditative running, stretching, and laughter with friends allows me to recenter myself when I am “out of balance”. Essentially, these tools or practices allow me to go deeper in evaluating my level of joy and wellness. Meaning, what emotion is centering my attention today? If not joy, what steps can I take to recenter or lead with joy?
One practice I am working towards reincorporating involves having a therapist. Having a therapist provides the space to be vulnerable in good moments, moments of grief, and moments of uncertainty.
How can people reading this support the work you are doing?
Readers can keep up and support BLK Beetles by following our Instagram pages - @blkbeetles and @blkbeetlesrunning - and subscribing to the Amplified Journey podcast. For our Houston readers, they can always join us for one of our community runs on Saturdays.
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