Indy-based program encouraging exercise in youth expands

(Provided Photo/Nine13sports)
(Provided Photo/Nine13sports)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A group working to better fitness and health for young Hoosiers is growing its mission in other communities across the country.

The non-profit Nine13sports, named after its leader’s birth date, will expand to a third market since its birth in Indianapolis four years ago.

The group’s founder and CEO, Tom Hanley, announced a branch of his operations will serve Minneapolis, Minnesota beginning in 2017. Nine13sports previously expanded to Portland, Oregon in 2015.

In 2012, Tom Hanley launched a bike-focused initiative that travels into elementary and middle schools to fit temporarily into physical education curriculum. Hanley credits Indianapolis and its corporate culture for the organization’s success.

“I don’t believe we could have done this in any other city but Indianapolis. The amazing community here, the resources here, the relationships here have really been the driving force to help put us on the map. It’s an honor to be able to replicate that (and) fly the Indianapolis flag as we go into new markets,” Hanley said.

Workers coordinate with P.E. teachers to instruct students on stationary bikes once a week for five weeks. The bikes are connected to a system that tracks each student and their improvements digitally.

Hanley says Nine13sports basically turns exercise into a game to engage students.

The program is funded through corporate and community sponsors to be provided at no cost to school districts.

“We’re spending our time working with 800-1,000 students per week and at five schools per week. As we continue to work towards the end of the year, we know our biggest need is growth here in central Indiana, not just across the country,” Hanley said.

According to Hanley, Minneapolis is a natural fit for the program when compared similarly to Indianapolis in demographics and culture.

Nine13sports has a goal of opening in a dozen cities by 2020. Hanley says its most immediate targets include Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio.