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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey featured in Men's Health

Mayor Jacob Frey joined the jujitsu-ing, CrossFitting mayors of cities across the United States in a feature called "50 States of Fit."

Mayor Jacob Frey joined the jujitsu-ing, CrossFitting mayors of cities across the United States in a feature called "50 States of Fit." David Joles, Star Tribune

If you’ve picked up an issue of Men’s Health lately, you might have seen the unexpected, smiling face of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey peering out from within the pages. He’s part of a feature the magazine is calling “50 States of Fit,” which looks at “U.S. mayors who are putting wellbeing first.”

There’s apparently a network of mayors who happen to do CrossFit (Miami Mayor Francis Suarez) and Brazilian Jujitsu (Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami) when they’re not doing mayor stuff. Frey, who was recruited in college on a track scholarship and spent some time as a professional runner, fit right in.

The piece includes plenty of tasty tidbits about Frey’s approach to health, from his “go-to healthy snack” (banana and peanut butter sandwich) to his favorite workout song (“All These Things That I’ve Done” by the Killers). But it also delved into what he saw as the “most urgent public health issue” facing his city. Many of these fit mayors chose obesity. Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin chose gun violence.

There are any number of ways Frey could have gone. In the past, he’s gotten flack for various ways he’s used his platform—like issuing a proclamation encouraging the consumption of “plant-based foods” to avert climate change. Also, whatever this was.

But instead, Frey chose to highlight Minneapolis’ affordable housing crisis.

“Housing is foundational to a healthy society—and to a healthy life,” his quote read. “Without safe and reliable housing, it’s next to impossible to secure healthy food, get a stable job, or pursue a dream.”

Here in the Twin Cities, we know Frey’s not wrong. We’ve been struggling with a lack of access to housing—to say nothing of affordable housing—for years now. This year, HousingLink, an affordable housing listing service, discovered there were absolutely no units available to renters with families making $30,000 or less. 

It puts a new perspective on this issue as a crisis of health. It’s nearly impossible to think seriously about your exercise habits or nutrition levels if you don’t know where you’re sleeping tonight.