First Health Meetup Announced in partnership with Noble Impact, Strengthen, and Arkansas Fitness.


  • Noble Impact, Arkansas Fitness, and Strengthen partner to inspire wellness in the community.

  • 1st event will be held at 10:00 am, January 21st, at Arkansas Fitness & Athletics.

  • Grant Tennille will be speaking on mental and physical health through personal hardships.

  • See Little Rock Health and Fitness Meetup for more information.

Right Now

As Americans, we live in a time when many people are experiencing the emotional roller coaster that is health care coverage. Will Obamacare work? Will the U.S. Senate successfully repeal it? What will that look like? Will our premiums increase? Will marijuana make our drug problems better or worse? Why can’t I shop for medical services? For the most part, these things are out of our everyday control and, more often than not, become distractions from the things that stand to reduce costs of chronic illness the most - good ole fashion exercise, healthy eating, quality rest, and mindfulness. 

The problem is that adopting better habits in these areas are much more a fight against our cultural mores than it is our conscience decision making. When we do things out of habit we do them subconsciously - meaning we do them out of routine and with little thought. Moreover, we develop our habits from our environment. We are influenced by the people, places, and things that surround us, so it can be difficult to act against those norms. That’s why it’s important to face these problems s a community.

Big Picture

In Arkansas, our problem is visible. Compared to other states, we ranked 6th most obese state per capita in 2015, which is an improvement from our number 1 ranking in 2014 partly because we dropped 1.4%, but mostly because Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana all became worse per capita.  Throughout the U.S., Obesity-related illness, including chronic disease, disability, and death, is estimated to carry an annual cost of $190.2 billion. Moreover, CDC projections estimate that by 2018, obesity will cost the U.S. 21 percent of our total healthcare costs - $344 billion annually. In addition, Those who are obese have medical costs that are $1,429 more than those of normal weight on average (roughly 42% higher).


Growing up in Arkansas, Strengthen Co-Founder Jordan Carlisle was often chastised by friends and family for being the healthy guy. "It made me feel guilty and sad," Carlisle stated. "Guilty, because I was aware of hundreds of unhealthy decisions I was making on a weekly basis. I wasn’t that healthy. And sad, because I was beginning to understand how far away I was from a healthful environment," he explained. He realized just how comparatively unhealthy we are as Arkansans after traveling around the United States and East Asia. But, he also noticed that many places, like China, were becoming worse off at a rapid pace. That exposure to different cultures is what lead Carlisle to lead an "examined life".

No matter where you live, becoming healthier is a choice.
— Jordan Carlisle, Co-Founder of Strengthen

We believe that once people have more exposure to what it means to live healthfully, the more conscience that person will become of their own choices. That’s why, in 2017, Arkansas Fitness, Strengthen, and Noble Impact are focusing time and energy in championing the Little Rock Health & Fitness Meetup. Together, they represent an incredibly strong community presence that will enable the overall mission to help Central Arkansans live healthier lives through exercise, empowerment, and education.

Kaya Woodson, Noble Impact Scholar and Meetup Leader, joined Strengthen as an apprentice in Fall of 2016 to learn how fitness can improve the human body and mental health. Since then she has learned that putting people first is a key to making an impact on lives. As a black female, she stands to make ripples in our community. According to the CDC, non-Hispanic black women have the highest rate of obesity in the country at 41%. Kaya says, ”Taking care of your body doesn't just benefit you physically, but also mentally,” which she is hoping to inspire others to realize. 

What & How

The Little Rock Health & Fitness Meetup is a platform that gives our community the opportunity to examine stories of individuals who inspire us to live more healthfully. What makes the Little Rock Health & Fitness Meetup unique is that it is community driven. We are volunteers looking to promote healthier living in our home state. In addition, we hope to scale our community by leveraging collaborative digital tools like and rich content to expand our reach across Central Arkansas. So far our strategy is working because we have 450 members and counting. Whether you're a cardiologist advising patients or a parent wanting to create a better environment for your children, telling stories that connect with us on a personal level help us think critically about our actions. Moreover, we want to facilitate real connections. We aren’t creating policies based on statistics, we’re realizing what the data says through meaningful relationships.  As each story inspires many, many will create inspiring stories. This simple concept has the potential to transform our community. 

The Meetup Group will meet every 1-2 months throughout 2017 (see for scheduled events), where each session will feature speakers that share their stories about health and wellness. Our first event for 2017 will be January 21 at 10:30 am, at Arkansas Fitness & Athletics featuring former Arkansas Director of Economic Development, Grant Tennille. After being the chief economic officer for Governor Mike Beebe, Grant has overcome personal adversity to reclaim his health and happiness.  During his tenure, he was considered a pillar of the Arkansas business community. Unfortunately, the sacrifices Grant made to get there took a toll. He surpassed the tipping point when he found himself without a meaningful job, family life in disarray, and buried beneath depression and anxiety. Tennille now wants to share his journey through hardship and reclamation to help people touched by mental illness. 

For the first time in my smart-assed life, not only didn’t I have an answer, I wouldn’t have trusted myself if I had. My brain was trying to kill me.
— Grant Tennille

This will be the first time Grant is speaking publicly about his dealings with mental illness with a story that will bring you to laughter and tears. Chances are you or someone you know has dealt with mental illness. It's easy to feel hopeless when experiencing vicious cycles of thought. Grant Tennille's story is one of hope for people who understand what that's like. We hope to pack the house in support of Grant through his journey and wish for those who might be struggling to feel welcomed by people who've overcome similar adversity. Sometimes it's stories like these that give us just enough hope to make the change we're looking for. 

You can RSVP to Grant's talk by visiting

We look forward to seeing you there! 

About the Organizers

The lead organizer for the Little Rock Health & Fitness Meetup is Kaya Woodson, a 17-year-old E-Stem High School Student and Noble Impact Scholar. Supporting Woodson are two of Arkansas notable leaders in the fitness community, Jim Eckhart founder of Arkansas Fitness & Athletics, and Jordan Carlisle, Co-Founder of the Little Rock based fitness software company Strengthen. Eckhart has over 12 years experience in strength and conditioning coaching. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, while Carlisle is a candidate for Certified Human Performance Coaching. Before launching Strengthen in 2016, Carlisle was the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

Additional Information

If you'd like like to help make an impact on the health and wellness of our community, please give us a shout. We're always looking for new ideas and potential speakers. 

About The Supporting Organizations

Arkansas Fitness & Athletics offers semi-private personal training using best practices in strength and conditioning. 

Noble Impact is an education non-profit that exposes students to relevant experiences and tools that enable them to navigate a world defined by uncertainty. 

Strengthen is bringing human performance to the forefront of preventative healthcare through technology that connects people with coaches who make an impact on their lives.