Black Business Spotlight: Fit1st Running

Owner taps power of positivity

“I’m a down-to-earth person. You’ll get the truth and service at a very affordable price,” says the Fit 1st Running gym owner Manny Minter. Located in Uptown, Fit 1st opened in May 2015. Minter says it continues to run through positive momentum. 

As for the name Fit 1st Running, “It means shoe-fitting first. We want to fit you first, then focus on fashion,” says Minter, adding that proper shoe fitting helps ensure comfort while exercising. He also customizes unique shoe inserts. 

Minter launched the business for two primary reasons: “Everyone needs shoes,” and “flexibility to pick my brands and most effective brands for the consumer,” says Minter. Customers should expect to pay $80-$150. 

Customers have four core brands to choose from, but a total of 12 are available. Minter says the store is stocked with “whatever shoe is going to fit the population properly.” The hottest selling running shoe is the Diadora, an Italian brand. 

Minter is often quick with a solution for customers who come to him fed-up with painful shoes while working out. One customer walked joyfully into the shop expressing how ready he was to buy a new pair of running shoes due to foot discomfort.

Minter quickly emerged with a sleek new remedy — a pair of jet black, lightweight running shoes. The customer tried them on, stood up with a sigh of relief, then lightly jogged back and forth. Minter provided an assessment and an order was placed shortly thereafter. 

Minter says he has found consistent success in part by the delivery of exceptional customer service like such one-on-one shoe fittings. 

Establishing work-life balance is an important aspect of operating a business. Asked what he enjoys in his free time, Minter says he likes running and biking, but “the biggest thing is writing music and making instrumentals. 

“That’s my jam, literally,” says Minter. Being a business owner allows him more time to live his other dreams. “I have more freedom to be a musician.” He also serves as a DJ on the weekends, and he’s “always trying to find songs, cuts and jams while mixing it. I try to get people excited.” 

Minter is motivated to live his dream due to his notion of being free. “I have a purpose every day and I’m working towards growth.”

Although there are trials and tribulations in business, Minter says he successfully overcomes these trials thanks to his optimistic outlook on life. “I can handle adversity. A positive attitude is everything, even in the worst times. A positive mindset manifests more.” 

Focusing on the good is always more beneficial than doting on the bad unless it can help us improve, Minter says. “Just because you have a bad moment doesn’t mean you have to have a bad day.”

Minter noted that great way to keep the vibes good is through exercise, for example. “There’s a lot of toxic energy that needs to be released. Sometimes I go on a bike ride.” Exercising creates a sense of euphoria because of the endorphins that get released, enhancing our mood for the better. “Attitude is everything,” he says. 

Minter has a message he’d like to share with aspiring business owners: “The same people that doubted you will be your biggest fan. There’s not many Black businesses. Be a living example.” 

Fit1st Running is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am to 5 pm on Saturday and from noon to 5 pm Sunday. It’s located at 2327 Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis. For more information visit