Playmakers in 35th Year of Rallying Community to Move


Playmakers in 35th year of rallying community to move more and better

Curt and Judy Munson had a dream in 1981 – to mobilize the mid-Michigan community to


be active walkers and runners. They called their dream Playmakers – a store that would equip and train walkers and runners how to move with speed and efficiency. In 2010, The Independent Running Retailers Association recognized Playmakers as the National Running Specialty Retailer of the Year. Their operation sponsors or is involved with 100 events a year, including the Komen Race for A Cure.

Customers are greeted on arrival and asked “How can we serve you today?’ If one just wants to browse, there’s always an associate nearby if you have a question or want to look at shoes, running gear and accessories. Karl Wilhelm is one such associate who specializes in fitting shoes to each individual’s needs. He asks what the guest is looking for in a shoe – walking or casual running, competitive running, casual or serious hiking.

Depending on the response, he will suggest several options. First, he takes a video of the guest walking back and forth to judge gait and stride. Both feet are measured. If he has to bring out 100 pairs of shoes before you find a pair to your liking, he’s up to the task. Playmakers offers a 30-day guarantee on all shoes. If you don’t like the shoe or its fit, and you return the shoes within the trial time period, the shoes will be taken back, credit returned, no questions asked.

Playmakers Fitness Foundation

In 2011, the Munsons and co-owners John Benedict, Brian Jones and Tom Keenoy established a foundation that would use Playmakers’ resources, with support from community and business partners. The goal was to improve the health and fitness of at least 30,000 individuals from youth to seniors. One outcome was free clinics listed below.

Walk light and easy – that’s the motto of Good Form Walking. Clinics are at 6 p.m. the first and third Mondays of the month at Playmakers.

Run faster, easier and healthier by attending the Good Form Running Clinic from 6-7:15 p.m. Tuesdays. Maximum of 15 per clinic. Register online at

Good Form Movement stresses support, stretching and strengthening. This clinic is on the 2nd and 4th Mondays from 6-7:15 p.m. at Playmakers.

The foundation has teamed with townships and school districts across mid-Michigan to introduce Good Form Running to children, K-12. With townships, a multi-week program is offered to learn the principles of Good Form Running and apply that knowledge to runs at several park trails.

For Seniors, the foundation conducts Good Form Walking at senior centers, senior living facilities and AARP group events. Often, the presentation leads to in-house walking  clubs.

Best Foot Forward is a free public education program developed and supported by Playmakers Fitness Foundation and a Michigan Department of Community Health grant. The program is open to schools, non-profits and community groups. Fun activities are used to teach good nutrition and physical fitness through running.

Playmakers also assists businesses that want to organize employee fun runs, but lack the time and equipment to organize an event. “It’s a great team builder,” says Andy Marsh, Playmakers’ Events and Marketing Coordinator.

Team Playmakers

Four separate training opportunities are offered to walkers and runners:

Any Distance, Any Pace — For those looking to get off the couch and start walking, or bettering one’s marathon time, the next program starts at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Playmakers. Formal training is at 8 a.m. Saturdays, rotating between Hawk Island Park (1601. E. Cavanaugh Rd., Lansing) and Playmakers. Informal training is Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. at the Michigan Athletic Club (2900 Hannah Blvd., East Lansing). Goal events for spring are the Fifth Third, 5K, 10K, 25K events in Grand Rapids on Saturday, May 13, and the Traverse City Track Club Bayshore’s 10K, half and full marathon. New members can join for $110, and returning members for $80. Contact Lynn DuVal – for details.

Women’s 5K Training Group – A walking, running fitness team for all ages. The goal is to complete a 5K on Saturday March 18. First session is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25 at Playmakers. Subsequent training sessions are 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 8 a.m. Saturdays at Hawk Hollow, 15101 Chandler Rd., Bath. Cost is $70. Contact Debbie Richards – for details.

Men’s 5K Training Group – Goal is the same as the women’s – to complete a 5K. Cost is $70. Contact Tom Patula – for spring kickoff dates, training times and locations.

Playmakers Triathlon Team – Designed for all levels and abilities, the kickoff date is Sunday, March 12 at Playmakers. There is team limit of 75. For a 12-week program with more than 30 coaching sessions, the cost is $110. Goal race is the Hawk Island Triathlon on June 4.

The full marathon season is 25 weeks, with more than 70 coaching opportunities. The goal marathon is the Hawk Island Marathon on Sept. 10. Cost  is $210. Mondays are speed training for running. Tuesdays are swim training and Thursdays are bike training. Contact Cindy Erickson at for details.

Playmakers strives to offer one-stop shopping for walkers and runners, with apparel, jackets, hats, gloves, coats, timing watches, clamp-on ice treks for winter adventures. Staff go through 40 hours of training annually to ensure the Playmakers philosophy of exceeding customers’ expectations is always met.

2299 W. Grand River Ave.
Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 349-3803
Open M-F, 10-8; Sat., 10-6; Sun., 12-5