Trained Podcast: Heal Through Sport With Arshay Cooper


Every draw of the oar led this all-Black rowing team from Chicago's West Side towards a better future. Hear the inspiring story.

Last updated: 2 December 2021
2 min read
Rower Arshay Cooper on How Sports Help Overcome Adversity

Trained is a podcast exploring the cutting edge of holistic fitness.

Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, Arshay Cooper's fate could have been sealed by his proximity to gang violence. But when he signed up for the country's first all-Black secondary school rowing team, he changed his trajectory and led his crew as they navigated a sport that has historically lacked diversity. Now a successful chef, author and activist, he brings rowing to other low-income communities so kids can have opportunities for a better future. On this episode of Trained, Arshay joins host Jaclyn Byrer to share how rowing gave his team the tools to cope with childhood trauma. Through detailed stories about his experiences as an athlete and mentor, he shows us that there's no such thing as a lack of talent, only a lack of opportunity. He also explains how we can all leave communities better than we found them.

"I think that we were fighting for something bigger, something that was bigger than any medal. And that was the thing that made an impact in our school and in our lives and in our families".

Arshay Cooper
Rower and author of A Most Beautiful Thing

Have a question about mindset, movement, nutrition, recovery or sleep? Have a suggestion for a guest or topic? Email Jaclyn at and she'll see what she can do.

Originally published: 2 December 2021

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