Kristin Gavin is the founder of Gearing Up, which she established in 2009. Her goal was to provide women in transition from addiction, abuse, and incarceration with the guidance, skills, and equipment to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth.
Kristin had a long-term interest in the use of physical activity as a means of coping with stress, anxiety, and depression. While completing her graduate studies at Temple University, Kristin started a fitness program at Interim House, a residential women’s recovery home in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Through surveys and direct conversation with residents, she assessed that biking met most of the women’s needs and was excited to help them explore one of her own passions. With a generous gift of five bicycles from Fuji Bikes, Kristin began the very first Gearing Up program at Interim House, a facility out of which Gearing Up still runs group bike rides multiple times a week.
Since Gearing Up's inception, listening and responding to the wants and needs of the women we serve has been a priority. An incentive component of the program was created based on participant feedback and the research done on self-efficacy, which indicates that tangible, achievable goals support attendance and morale. Gearing Up has been dedicated to in-depth service and has formed a variety of programs to support women after they earn bicycles with the program including a mentorship program and an Alumni group.
In 2010, Gearing Up noticed that women in our outdoor program were often coming from Riverside Correctional Facility. In order to support women throughout their recovery, we began the first indoor cycling program in the prison. After 5 years of biking with women in Riverside, we hung up our saddles at the end of 2016. See more information here and see below for the research study we conduced with Temple University.
Gearing Up kicks off our spring riding season with Bike & Bagel held every April, and for engaging in community events and rides such as Bike to Work Day and a Field Day. With our annual Pacesetter Event, we have honored community “pace setters” such as Gabriel Mandujano of Wash Cycle Laundry, Maiken Scott of WHYY the Pulse, Lisa Nutter, Louis Giorla the Prison Commissioner at the time, and more!
Gearing Up currently works with three community-based treatment programs, pedals with approximately 200 women a year, maintains a fleet of 24 bicycles, and employs a staff of two full time, and 6 part-time employees.