When CaCera Richmond, 31, made the move to Memphis from Los Angeles, her home of six years, some friends thought she was crazy to leave California’s fitness market for the South.

“I think fitness is more ingrained in the culture of L.A,” CaCera says. “But fitness is just as important here as it is in there. In L.A., it’s about hiking and boutique studios. In Memphis, it’s about cycling, yoga, running, and taking advantage of Shelby Farms. There’s a really special kind of buzz around the fitness community here.”

CaCera grew up in Madison, Miss., but her Masters in Communication and Public Relations has taken her everywhere from Jackson to Atlanta. In 2011, she moved to L.A., where she got hooked on ClassPass, a monthly subscription for fitness classes. She credits it with reinvigorating her workout regimen as a busy young professional.

A position opened up at FedEx late last year, and CaCera jumped at the chance to move closer to home. Outside of her role as a Senior Communications Specialist, she has let her passion for fitness blossom in her work as a volunteer for Girls on the Run, teaching classes at ZenSudio, and starting FitWithFinesse.com.

“I love the balance between my job and what I do after work,” she says. “I’ve been a lot more open than I probably have ever been in the past since this move. I want to continue that spirit of openness when I think about making goals for the quarter, the year, for the next 20 years.”

In March, CaCera launched the blog Fit With Finesse alongside friend and accountability partner Shawnie Dockery. The pair met in California and wanted to create a health and wellness resource for women of color. The pair use Fit With Finesse to maintain their friendship and encourage a community of like-minded women to pursue their own fitness goals. Twice a week, Shawnie and CaCera post recipes, fitness studio reviews, workout playlists, and more.

“Since we launched, we’ve already had a lot of messages from people who love what we’re doing and who tell us, ‘I never see Black women doing this,’” CaCera says.

Her passion for fitness is grounded in her desire to empower women. CaCera volunteers for the Memphis chapter of Girls on the Run, a national non-profit that encourages and trains young girls to complete a 5K at the end of their school semester. This month, they will see the inaugural group of elementary and middle school girls run their first race at Shelby Farms.

“Being a part of the group that built it up and got it going in Memphis, that’s a huge moment of pride for me,” CaCera says. “Seeing the girls’ faces at the end of the run, knowing they’ve worked together and put their minds to something and done it, is awesome. I hope they will continue to take the importance of a healthy lifestyle and lessons of confidence and empowerment with them.”

In addition to Girls on the Run, CaCera teaches studioBOUNCE, a cardio trampoline class, at ZenStudio on Wednesday mornings and Friday evenings. As part of her personal practice, she sees a trainer at HardQore Fitness in Cordova twice a week and always makes it to boot camp on Saturday mornings.

CaCera believes that making challenging quarterly goals is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This fall, she completed her first Spartan Race: a high-intensity event that combines a five mile run with twenty obstacles, varying from rope climbing to monkey bars.

 “The biggest thing I learned from the Spartan Race is to trust yourself,” she says. “I really doubted myself going into it. I’m a girly girl, so the idea of going through a mud pit and traipsing through water was not appealing. But I surprised myself. When I actually got out there and did it, I was more ready than I thought I was. Your body can surprise you. It’s a tool and an instrument; if you take care of it, it will take care of you.”

Up next, CaCera is training for another Spartan Race and completing a group training certification program. She plans to continue documenting her fitness journey and promoting the Memphis fitness community on her website. Readers can also follow her experience participating in the St. Jude Marathon Weekend in December when she runs her first 10K.

By India Nikotich

Photo by Tindall Stephens