By Melissa Renee Perry
After the police murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Evanston resident and personal trainer Slater Nelson, along with many Americans, felt shaken and dismayed. So Slater, who, earlier that year, had opened their business, Esdot Fitness at 912 Sherman Ave., responded. They organized a group virtual workout (remember this was at the height of the pandemic) and called it “Breathe For Them.” Their goal: to honor Floyd’s life, raise awareness about police murders, and make a difference.
“We worked out for four minutes at a time — just half the time that [George Floyd] was on the ground.” Slater recalls. “We were getting out of breath, we were sweating, and it's like, man, if this is how we feel–imagine that situation. So that was very powerful and it resonated with a lot of people.”
A key aspect of Slater’s mission through Esdot Fitness is to provide an inclusive space for residents to pursue their fitness goals and to inspire overall social change within the Evanston community.
“I want to represent people who want to train but don't necessarily know that that's an option,” Slater explains. “I look at populations like myself: minority groups, queer groups, and those are really the people who I identify with. I train everyone, but I'm really into creating space for those populations.”
In May 2021, Slater built on “Breathe For Them:” this time, they hosted two workouts, one in-person and one virtual, and added a fundraising component: folks who signed up donated what they could to participate, with funds going to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation (GFMF).
“I reached out to [the foundation], and I said, ‘I did this last year, but it was just a workout. This year, I want to raise funds for you,’” Slater says. “Last year we were able to raise $1,700, which, for a very small business like myself, that was pretty darn cool.”
Now, Slater is preparing to host their third May 25 “Breathe for Them” workout/fundraiser. It’s their first year holding the event in Evanston (last year’s took place in Rogers Park) and they’ve increased their fundraising goal to $2,000.
“Since George passed in 2020, there have been more than 440 Black deaths by police, which is astronomical,” Slater says. “It's something that's constant, and as much as people are talking about Black lives matter, and we have the yard signs, and we use the hashtags — it's more than a hashtag. It's a movement, not a moment.”
Additionally, Slater is selling “Breathe for Them” apparel, which you can buy here.
All proceeds from the virtual workout, in-person workout, and merch purchases will go all to the GFMF.
Slater invites the entire community to donate and participate.
“Now it's about mobilizing and getting the word out,” Slater says.
To donate, visit Slater’s instagram (handle: esdotfitness) where you can contribute directly to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation via the link in their bio. Participants can also donate in-person on May 25 or venmo Slater @esdotfitness.
Click here to learn more about Slater and Esdot Fitness.