The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates there are at least 275 million scrap tires in stockpiles throughout the nation. In Arizona alone, some 4.5 million scrap tires are disposed of annually. Although approximately 4 million tires are moved out of landfills in a fairly short amount of time — thanks to a tire recycling program the legislation passed in 1990 — hundreds of thousands of tires are still left to pile up each year. This presents undesirable issues, attracting mosquitoes and vermin, contaminating runoff water, and causing potential fire threats due to tires’ high flammability, which emits dangerous chemicals into the air.

Tires Piling Up
How to solve such a dire tire predicament? A London-born fitness enthusiast found another use for old car tires while visiting his grandmother in West Africa as a child. Amen Iseghohi, founder of amenZone Fitness Training in downtown Phoenix says his grandmother “didn’t like lazy”, so he and his sister played with tires for exercise. It was then he discovered “primal” workouts using old tires. “You can work every muscle in your body with a tire,” Iseghohi says, “and it’s a natural movement that your body is used to, which minimizes the potential for injuries and yields impressive physical results.”

What Iseghohi learned in Africa stuck with him for years. In fact, this former junior professional rugby player used tires to stay in shape while his fellow teammates were in the gym. “You don’t need expensive gym equipment,” confirms Iseghohi. “Why not re-use something that is piling up in landfills, costs less money and can be used in a park, a home and at a fitness studio in group classes? amenZone is founded on a ‘back to the basics’ philosophy where spirituality and the body are not separate, but one; simplifying exercise routines can be even more effective if executed correctly.”

Just how primal is it? Tires are dirty, but the EPA confirms the safety of old tires, stating: “There is no current evidence showing that products containing recycled rubber from scrap tires substantially increases the threat to human health and the environment.”

amenZone Dual Passions
Growing landfills weren’t the only detrimental issues Iseghohi saw. He hoped to parlay environmental concerns with his true passion – tackling childhood obesity. Statistics from the William J. Clinton Foundation, such as “nearly 25 million children are overweight or obese” and “92 percent of elementary schools don’t have daily physical education classes year-round” deeply touched him.

Naturally, Iseghohi began a “back to the basics” exercise approach in a grassroots fashion – literally! He led exercise classes for children using old car tires at Cactus Park in Scottsdale (which have now turned into family classes). “The kids love the classes because they’re fun. They get to move around and see the physical benefits that come from living an active lifestyle,” Iseghohi says.

He also adds that children who set a standard for a complete healthy lifestyle, that is, eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly at a young age are likely to maintain those habits through adulthood. On the contrary, estimates that “more than 70 percent of obese adolescents retain their overweight and obese condition even during their adulthood.”

Iseghohi’s goal is to bring tires from landfills to public schools for a low-budget fitness class. He believes combining the sustainable benefit of reducing the piles of tires and the health advantage of keeping kids active are the perfect match. When asked about his long-term vision, he simply states, “to change the world one city at a time.”