Learn More: Who Is Michael? What Are His Talents?
When asked what makes him so special, Marvel’s Captain America famously responds: “Nothing. I’m just a kid from Brooklyn.” Columbus benefits every day from the important contributions of Michael Nicholson, our very own kid from Brooklyn, who saves lives, promotes social justice, and encourages others to be the change they want to see in the world, all through his own wildly-successful hip-hop fitness program, just like our very own super hero. Like Marvel’s character.
By way of background, Mike, owner of Phlex Fitness and founder of the M. Nicholson Hip-Hop Fitness program (Ohio’s original hip-hop fitness program), is a true innovator in dance fitness. Mike, along with a handful of part-time instructors, teach nearly 30 fitness classes each week all over Columbus, many with upwards of 500 participants in attendance. The program has approximately 6500 fiercely-loyal members (not including those who drop-in periodically to attend class) who are the most diverse mix of people you will find anywhere – women and men of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, religions, sexual orientations, professions/industries, and socio-economic backgrounds. Participants joyfully gather multiple times each week to shake their tail feather and burn major calories in a safe and welcoming fitness environment lead by one of the most positive, energetic men any of us could ever hope to meet. He has truly created what we refer to as our “fitness family.”
As discussed above, Mike and his program have helped literally hundreds of people live a better life by dramatically improving their health, creating new and lasting friendships, and increasing their self-confidence. Further examples of Mike’s multi-faceted and enduring impact are as follows:
Mike is very committed to making his program accessible to everyone in the community who wants to attend. For this reason, he has not raised the price of his classes (which cost far less than most any gym membership) since inception of the program, despite the fact that his costs have certainly increased with the opening of his own gym and the addition of new locations (like Dublin, Grandview, and Reynoldsburg) to the class schedule. I cannot think of many businesses in this day that would intentionally forego the opportunity to maximize profits in order to benefit the community.
Mike also donates thousands of dollars each year to local charities by routinely sponsoring special program events geared toward benefiting a specific charity or cause. Charities benefited include, without limitation, Pelotonia, American Heart Association (Franklin County Chapter), American Cancer Society (Franklin County Chapter), and Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (Central Ohio Chapter). Notably, Mike is committed to helping the most vulnerable members of our community, which he demonstrates through his financial support of charities like the March of Dimes (Ohio Chapter), BESA for Bellies (providing hot, nutritious meals to underprivileged children), [domestic violence], She Has A Name (Domestic Violence) and Ohio Suicide Prevention Network. I find Mike’s ongoing support of the Ohio Suicide Prevention Network to be particularly significant – instead of hiding his own struggle with mental illness and suicide, he openly and bravely speaks (on Facebook and otherwise) about his experiences in an effort to raise awareness regarding mental health issues, reduce the stigma traditionally associated with mental health treatment, and, ultimately, let others suffering know that they are not alone. In a time when it is often easier for many to write a check than truly give something of themselves, Mike has selflessly chosen to do both.
Mike also volunteers considerable time at several local schools – from the most financially-challenged to the most affluent – and you can feel his passion and excitement when he talks about these experiences. He frequently speaks to children regarding the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, as well as being an entrepreneur. He also teaches fitness classes and even hosts special fitness events to raise money for underfunded school programs and sports teams. In addition, Mike, is a husband to Emily Nicholson, a father to Skyler and Evander and is a fixture at his son’s school (12-year-old Skyler attends Gahanna Middle School South) and credits the success of the program and his flexible schedule with enabling him to be the family man and father he wants to be.