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AIDS Walk Arizona

AIDS Walk Arizona 2022 raised more than $230,000, surpassing the event’s fund-raising goal, as nearly 2,000 people spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon participating at Tempe Beach Park.

“Forty years after first discovering the virus, the battle against HIV/AIDS is not over,” said Aunt Rita’s Foundation Executive Director Jimmy Thomason. “We’ve made tremendous progress but our commitment to ensuring ongoing awareness, education, prevention and resources is as strong as ever. The money raised at AIDS Walk, and the incredible support we experienced, will go a long way in continuing our mission and bringing our vision to light.”

AIDS Walk Arizona

AIDS Walk Arizona 2022 was presented by CAN Community Health, a national organization dedicated to improving lives in the community and expanding the availability and accessibility of PrEP, a one-pill-a-day medication that reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 99% when taken as prescribed.

Additional sponsors included Walgreens, which raised $27,000 through the annual wristband campaign; Gilead, featuring its product Bitkarvy; Sonora Quest Laboratories, sponsors of Kids for the Cause; and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, the Vodka for Dog People, sponsor of Paws for the Cause.

Elijah Palles and Regina Wells were AIDS Walk Arizona 2022 co-chairs.

With roots in Phoenix since 1988, Aunt Rita’s Foundation is dedicated to the elimination of, and suffering from, HIV and AIDS through collaborations with Arizona HIV service organizations and local and statewide government agencies.

About Aunt Rita’s Foundation

In our mission to end HIV in Arizona, Aunt Rita’s quietly began in 1988 with our first fundraising bake sale. Since then, Aunt Rita’s Foundation has provided millions of dollars to HIV programs and prides itself as the “Connector of the HIV Community” with gap-filling programs that include testing and collaborative initiatives. Partner agencies include Ebony House, The Bill Holt Clinic at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, CAN Community Health, Chicanos Por La Causa LUCES Program, HEAL International, HIV Care Directions, Valleywise Health, one n ten, Southwest Behavioral Health Services, Southwest Center, Shot in the Dark, Southwest Recovery Alliance and Terros Health. Aunt Rita’s distributes free Home HIV oral swap test kits through GetTestedAz.org and provides vouchers for confidential clinical testings at 100 Safeway stores and Sonora Quest locations statewide. Aunt Rita’s signature fund-raising events areAIDS Walk Arizona and RED is the Night and will commemorate World AIDS Day with a community-oriented Picnic in the Park. Aunt Rita’s Foundation also works with the Arizona Department of Health Services to increase awareness and education about HIV/AIDS statewide through HIVAZ.ORG. For more information, visit www.auntritas.org or call (602) 882-8675.

Photo courtesy of Michael Feinstein.

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I think it’s fair to say we all want that #fitlife, especially with Spring around the corner — as well as Gaypril on the way. Whether it’s pool season yet or not, everyone would choose to look fit over not looking fit, if they could have it with a snap of their fingers. OK, the vast majority of us would.

If you’ve met me, or have been reading my articles, you know that I live, sleep, eat and breathe fitness; it’s my heart and soul. That being said, I’m here to tell you that the concept of “fitness” is oftentimes tragically misunderstood.

Before you get too aggressive with your goal for pool season, let’s dive a bit deeper into what fitness means on the inside versus what it looks like on the outside, and common misconceptions around this concept.

1. Beware of the cultural pitfalls and misleading information around fitness.

Most of the bodies you see in the media are probably not real, they just look very convincing. As a trainer who also moonlights as a photographer and Photoshop wizard, I’m telling you that it is incredibly easy to alter pictures in materially misleading ways. Once you know the tricks of the trade, the imposters are easily spotted. But that’s not what this is about.

The point is: to the untrained eye, it can be devastatingly defeating to see such impossible standards. It seems as though the cultural pressure to look a certain way, to look perfect, has spread all the way from runway models to fitness novices with the help of smartphone apps.

The truth is that we fitness models look that cut, and that lean for only a couple days at a time. That’s it! In many cases, months or even close to a year of training, dieting and programming all go into looking like that for ONE day. Let that sink in for a second. Day to day, I am less cut, less tan and much flatter muscularly than what you see in some of my pictures. That’s just the nature of the beast. So, when you have a bad day on the scale, in the mirror or in any other scenario, remember that we’re all human and that the most legitimate photos you’re comparing yourself against were from someone’s very best day. That should help to keep things in perspective.

2. Most people want the results, without actually doing the work.

Fitness is not six pack abs, it’s not superficial, it is not temporary and it’s not an isolated phase in your life. Further, fitness is not something you do for someone else, do to spite someone else or even to impress someone else.

Fitness is confidence, toughness, dedication, coordination, power, balance, speed, strength (both literally and figuratively) and persistence in the face of all obstacles. This includes control over your attitude, your mood, your sleep, your schedule, your diet and other aspects of your life. This means getting that workout in when you least feel like it.

It’s not easy, and it’s definitely a grind that has good and bad days. You must show up and keep working on the days you’re tired, stressed, rushed, defeated, doubtful, afraid and so on. The days you actually have to overcome something instead of just checking your workout off your to-do list are the days you have the greatest opportunity to really make progress, push your body and see the most improvement.

3. Fitness is really an internal mindset. The external physique is the fringe benefit.

I’ve said this time and time again, and it might sound strange coming from such an aesthetic-focused trainer, but you are not your body. Your body is a tool, it’s a means to an end, to express your internal mindset, belief system, discipline and dedication to your workout program. Your physique will come and go. Your strength will come and go. Your abilities will wax and wane depending on what you’re training for at the time.

The outside will, and should, be always changing, but the inside is what we’re really after here. Good trainers want to train you to believe in yourself when sh*t gets hard. We want to train you to be resilient in the face of injury, obstacles and other setbacks. We want you to set ambitious goals and shoot for the moon because you can get there with smart programming and relentless will (do yourself a favor and ditch the crash diets and the photo editing software).

So, as you make your spring preparations for swimsuit season, try focusing on developing a sterling, unshakeable internal character and the muscles will come along the way, this I promise you.

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