By Ameera Steward
The Birmingham Times
On a hot, sunny day amid blue skies and green spaces, the T. Mills Run Club met at Railroad Park downtown Birmingham for its weekly training session and to prepare for its next 5K race.
Club members stretched and ran—a typical day for the nearly two dozen participants, who meet on either Saturday or Sunday each week for at least a three-mile run, said club founder Terry Mills.
“[Three miles because] we’ll be training for 5Ks, which [are] 3.1 miles,” he said. “I told people, ‘Let’s start at the top and then just get better.’”
Mills, a 36-year-old realtor from Bessemer, Ala., played football at McAdory High School from 1998 to 2001 and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) from 2002 to 2004.
“If I had not been working out all this time, I couldn’t be out here running at 36. Coming up with a sports and physical background has kept me sharp, not just physically but in my business career, too,” said the owner of T. Mills Realty Group, which has a sales team of seven agents.
Mills said the running club is an arm of his business, so three on his real estate sales team are also club members.
While attending UAB, Mills studied criminal justice, which led him to a nine-year career as a probation officer that came to an end when he was laid off. After being let go from that position, he had to figure out his next route. So, in 2015, he went into business for himself.
“[Real estate] is one of the industries [in which] you can start a business, no overhead,” he said. “Also, it’s a win-win for everybody, helping people achieve that American dream of home ownership.”
“A Better Runner”
Tiffany Maclin, 35, of Tanner, Ala., has been with T. Mills Run Club since it started in February. She had been on a weight-loss journey since high school and couldn’t figure out how to keep the pounds off.
“[Now] I’m able to maintain and control [my weight], and I’m self-disciplined,” she said during a recent training session at Railroad Park. “I joined this group so it could help me tone more. It [also can] motivate people if they’re struggling … to lose weight.”
Since joining the club, Maclin said she’s seen her waistline shrink: “It’s helping tone my legs, [too], and making me [run more] and become a better runner. … “When I go out there, I have the urge to run.”
“Building and Benefiting”
Mills began the running club after he completed a half-marathon in Birmingham in February of this year. He saw it as a way to expand beyond real estate and give back to the community.
“I work out and run, so I said, ‘Let me use what I already do to transform that into something positive,’” he said.
After a few members came onboard, he asked them, “What would be a cool way to give back to people?” One idea was to team up with other organizations in the city.
“Our motto is ‘Building and benefiting the community one mile at a time,’ [and our mission is] to raise money and make contributions to different organizations,” said Mills, who recently set up his first partnership with Grooming Ultimate Student Athletes (GUSA).
Founded by Kevin Brown, owner of downtown Birmingham’s Xtreme Fitness and Performance gym, the GUSA program helps metro-area student-athletes.
“We offer them physical training, in addition to tutoring and ACT preparation. We also take them on college visits and to camps that we sometimes pay for,” said Brown, who also trains Mills.
The two met last summer, and Mills noticed that most of Brown’s clients were student-athletes: high school and college, and even some NFL players.
“When I learned more about [Brown’s] whole program, I was totally geeked about it,” said Mills. “I was like, ‘Man, more people need to hear about this because [people] don’t know [what goes on here].’ [They] just see a gym and a bunch of kids and think that’s all it is, but there’s much more to it.”
Mills said he will look for ways to sponsor some participants in the GUSA program, which, Brown said, is a huge assist for kids in the program.
For Mills, the running club is not about him: “It’s about other people.”
“[It is] tremendous to have somebody like Tiffany say, ‘Hey I’m here because this is how it’s benefiting me’ or to have somebody like Kevin say, ‘Hey, this is benefiting my organization,’” Mills said.
You can join or donate to T. Mills Run Club by visiting T Mills Run Club on Facebook and @TMillsRunClub on Instagram, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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