In the Eyes of Cherie Epstein:

Let me take you back nine years ago when RW Phat Girlz was born and how it has evolved before we start the 2018-2019 season.

In the beginning, after God created a day of rest, Paul and Cherie’ opened up a running store (I do remember that was the year 2000AD). We had this really cool girl, Nicki, who started working for us about a year later and we became fast sister/friends. Work was pretty much a party and we ran, biked and swam and we talked about it. a lot. Because there was no such thing as social media (that I was aware of anyway) we talked about it with every face that walked through the doors of Running Wild.

And then we started having babies. Nicki was struggling with balancing life as the wife of a fire fighter, a career in the running industry, and motherhood. Sometimes that workout got pushed aside. I was at home with three kids under the age of 5, having sales reps come to my house…or a park…to show me running apparel and then booking orders for our business. Sometimes the workout got pushed aside.

We were both on collegiate running teams (but different decades) and MAN we missed that sisterhood. There is just something so special about being part of a team. Especially a female team. We push each other in a way that is not in your face competitive…and yet when you find that tribe you find yourself competing with yourself to do better. It is just such a beautiful thing. EVERY woman should have a team. This is what I was thinking by myself and we came together and surprise! We had the same exact thoughts and Nicki had even created a logo. Then we took it to Paul and sold him on the idea. This really did not have anything to do with that workout being pushed aside…okay maybe a little. It was a sweet gig that we could be at work and still get some sweat equity.

Today there are over 1500 ladies that follow the Facebook page that was set up by our dearest phattie, Livvy. We have a group that we are affiliated with in Pace and Navarre. Also, the Fairhope Running Wild store has an amazing group of ladies that although are still plugged into Running Wild, have changed the group name to Wild Tribe. Last year, a group of 60+ years young ladies led by Mary Easley and Betty Little started “Senior Phat Girlz”. There are “phatties” (our term of endearment) that are part of this movement that represent other teams and that is okay. What is important is that we set examples for others to not only embrace physical fitness among women, but also a true sisterhood.

Honestly, I have always had a tribe….until I first moved to Pensacola in 1997. Because I was a substitute teacher, I never had an opportunity to make a work friend for nearly a full year. I started withdrawing. I would sign up to do a race and just not show because I didn’t have anybody to go with. I was unBRAVE. I hope that today, any woman can move to this area and find a tribe/ team/ support group in a short amount of time. If you have been here awhile and have not connected, start by showing up for a group run. Or call the store.

We come to this place from different roads. Some have sub-3 hour marathon accomplishments. Some are more rabbity at shorter but faster paces. Some are just seeking the desire not to hate lacing up their shoes for just a jog around the neighborhood and others are content to walk short, medium or far. SO whether your desire is to find a tribe within this group that you can log some walking or running miles with, or it is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, or to increase your physical fitness for triathlon or paddle board race or mountain biking or you just need an inexpensive outlet to a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain and keep your family alive…plug into this exclusive to only women but inclusive to all women Phat Nation!

For this ninth season we will be having a meet N greet on Tuesday September 11th from 5-7ish. That is Taco Tuesday so Running Wild will provide some taco snacks, skinny girl margaritas and some sangrias. and sparking water of course. If you work during the day and can’t make Phat Girlz…maybe you can at least make it to GNO? We will be raffling off two sports bras, from Handful and Anita, some momentum running jewelry and compression sleeves from Lilly Trotters at 6:45ish. Also, we will have another clothes swap. DO you have some clothes in your closet that you never wear and want to simplify your life. Have you lost weight or gained weight and have not loved that dress for three years? Maybe you could let it go and let someone else love it. Start bringing gently used clothes on hangars to Running Wild and we will arrange by size XS-XXL. Then on Tuesday you simply browse through the closet and take what you want that you will love. Some fantastic scores have been found during this time. The next day, social workers from the Escambia School District will collect what was not picked up by the Phatties and brought to needy families, particularly in the Century area which is very impoverished.

The store group run will start on Wednesday September 12th. There are many tribes that are connected via this group so if this time does not work with you, plug into the Phat Girlz Facebook page. (Make sure that it is a fitness group page connected to Running Wild. There are a few booty pages connected to the name but NOT related) The hardest thing is to show up the first time. sometimes you can connect with someone that you gel with on the first visit. Sometimes it takes a few more times. But trust me, it is worth it. We gather, get a pep talk from Stephanie, run or walk and then come back for some three A’s…Abs, Arms and Arse. It’s free. Takes about 90 minutes total. kids are welcome. Husbands, boyfriends and brothers are not.

I hope to make new friends this season and log more miles with my current tribe.

Big Love,