Anyone who’s familiar with Michael B. Jordan’s work knows that he doesn’t play when it comes to his fitness regimen. Just Google the award-winning actor, who was crowned PEOPLE’s “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2020, and you’ll see a flurry of search results, highlighting the workouts and meal plans that he followed to prepare for
roles like Black Panther and the Creed franchise, along with savvy advice on how to achieve his impressive physique.
Earlier this year, Jordan partnered with Propel Fitness Water to inspire exercisers in their own workouts, with his face donning the company’s first-ever limited edition water bottle in promotion of his latest film — and directorial debut — Creed III. And this summer, he’s teaming up with the beverage company yet again for a campaign known as the Propel Your City Project, which is supporting organizations around
the country that are devoted to addressing barriers of access to fitness and wellness within their communities.
With Jordan’s assistance, Propel has selected four organizations in Atlanta (Atlanta Run Club), Detroit (The Trap Studio), Houston (BLK Beetles) and Los Angeles (WalkGood LA) to help them reach more prospective fitness aficionados and continue to build community through various forms of movement. Propel is planning to supply resources, like workout equipment for The Trap Studio, so they can expand their programming and
loan out gear to their members, and provide a centralized studio space for WalkGood LA, which is a Black and Brown-led organization that hosts yoga, guided meditations, hikes, running events and other activities in Los Angeles.
As someone who played sports throughout his childhood in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, Jordan says he was inspired to get involved with the Propel Your City Project because fitness is something that everyone should have access to, no matter where they reside.
“Not every place has the community centers and the parks and the public access equipment that they may need to service [their] goals, and I think it’s a big problem,” Jordan tells ESSENCE. “When you see schools shutting down their athletic programs and trying to cut organized sports and certain programs, that’s a sad day. I can’t even imagine growing up, going to school and not having access to a basketball
court and certain equipment.”
Through the Propel Your City initiative, Jordan says they are supporting organizations “that are doing the work in their communities by creating spaces for people to connect and feel seen, and enabling others to reap the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of movement” — just as fitness has impacted his own life. Fitness has always been an integral part of Jordan’s life, but it wasn’t until he was in his 20s that he became passionate about working out, he says.
“I started to care about the trajectory of my onscreen presence, and I think that kind of encouraged me to want to physically transform and tap into the physical part of it,” says Jordan, adding that he wanted to look good for scenes in his projects, like the football series Friday Night Lights, when he’d be tasked with taking his shirt off during
practice scenes. Beyond just the physical benefits of working out, though, which has obviously paid off for Jordan, he says that fitness has also improved his mental wellbeing.
“You start from the inside out. You feel better [and] you’re working out, you get more confidence. You’re standing a bit taller. Your clothes fit a little bit better. You speak a little bit more with a sense of purpose and pride,” he says, adding that he regularly meditates to keep himself grounded. “So I think just overall fitness and wellness plays into so many different aspects of yourself and how you show up and how other people perceive you.”
But since he’s found community through fitness and his “sense of belonging within it,” it’s helped Jordan get to where he is today. He hopes to help unlock that experience for other exercisers through the Propel Your City Project. “Sometimes if you leave it up to yourself, you’re not going to get out of bed,” he says, flashing his unarming, megawatt smile that he’s known for. “You’re not going to show up, you’re going to hit that
snooze button, but if you have somebody else that’s waiting for you, somebody that’s going to hold you accountable or getting around like-minded individuals” it can be a gamechanger. He has the same mentality when it comes to approaching roles and selecting projects for his production company, Outlier Society Productions. “That’s why I love think tanks,” he explains. “A lot of the work I’m doing in my own brain by myself, but when I get around my creative director and other people at my company and we feed off of each other, that’s way more powerful.”
He adds, “So I think when you get around other people who have a common goal of sacrifice, discipline, consistency [and] working hard, you want to work hard too.”
For more information on the Propel Your City Project, including the free classes available in Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston and Atlanta, as well as the additional fitness organizations that will be supported by the brand’s efforts, visit www.PropelWater.com/Community. Exercisers across the country can enter via @PropelWater for the chance to win* $500 to put toward fitness memberships both for themselves and a friend, and learn more about free fitness classes available in select cities on www.PropelWater.com/Community.