Minneapolis woman on mission to address health disparities

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In 2014, a local computer engineer decided to pursue her passion for physical fitness. Today, Valerie Fleurantin runs her own business. It’s a one-woman operation, and she is working to make an impact in the community one step at a time.

Today, Fleurantin goes by the name Coach Val. A few years ago, she created Afrokaribe. It’s dance fitness with a mix of reggae, Afrobeats, and hip-hop.

“I needed something with some drums, where I can celebrate my culture,” says Fleurantin.

What began as a class of five has grown by the dozens.

“I am who I am serving, so I wanted to make fitness fun. Something that you don’t have to think about. It’s just like I’m coming to just dance. And you’re getting well while you’re doing it,” says Fleurantin.

Her classes attract women from all backgrounds.

“In my classes, you’ll see kids that are starting from the age of 4 to my older mamas that are in the class. One of my oldest is 80,” says Fleurantin.

Her classes take participants to locations in downtown Minneapolis and the city’s north side. “Just making a huge impact on the health disparities that exist. For me, it’s removing the barriers and making a real dent in the health disparities in our community,” Fleurantin.

Minnesota is one of the healthiest states in the country, but it has some of the greatest health disparities in the nation. Fleurantin says, “Fitness is good for depression, anxiety, stress. All of the things that plague our community.  Better sleep, self-confidence.”

Coach Val is taking her message to the streets.

Several times a month she instructs free/donation-based classes. She believes participants have a lot to gain. “First, I want them to show themselves love. And then I say you know I hope that you felt seen, I hope that you felt heard and I hope that you felt loved, and I hope that you had a great time and that’s what I want them to leave with,” says Fleurantin.

Fleurantin says that hopes to one day open a fitness studio and launch a training program for instructors. For more info on her classes click on the link below.

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