February marks the beginning of Black History Month! To celebrate, we’re honoring members of our community who have helped shape Asphalt Green today.  

This month and every month, we’re delighted to celebrate the diversity of our  members and staff who are helping build community and deliver sports, fitness, and play to all.  

Read on to meet Alphonso White, Lamar Burch, and Yvonne Fraser, and learn more about their journeys at Asphalt Green! 

Alphonso White, Group Exercise Manager & Pro Trainer 

Alphonso joined Asphalt Green in 2021 after 20 years of working in the fitness industry. Today, he works directly with countless members as a trainer and oversees our Group Exercise program. His leadership has helped make Asphalt Green one of the most highly regarded fitness centers in New York City.

Learn More About Our Fitness Programs

What does Black History Month mean to you?

It's American history. I don't really see it as two separate entities. Since the beginning, African Americans, Africans have been in America, so you really can't separate the two. They shouldn't be two separate concepts, or two separate ideas--they're interwoven.

Which Black athletes inspire you and why?

Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, and Bill Russel, because of the stuff they did on the court and on the field, but also their activism, their social awareness, and social commentary. They weren't just athletes, you know. They just didn't show up and play the sport and that was it. They were also engaged.

Why is sports, fitness, and play for all important to you?

It's important because it's one of the easiest ways to connect with people, right? I mean, if you look at any of the major sports, they are certainly more integrated than they were in the 50s and 60s. I'm a basketball fan, [and] basketball now is an international sport, so you're meeting people from all over. Asphalt Green’s focus on sports and community is a great way to connect people and that's why it's important.

Lamar Burch, Community Programs Recess Enhancement Program Manager 


Lamar started working at Asphalt Green in 2012 as a Recess Enhancement Program Play Coach. Over the past decade, Lamar has helped grow the Recess Enhancement Program into one of the leading Community Programs at Asphalt Green and New York City. Today, Lamar is our Community Programs Recess Enhancement Program Manager, and the program now helps over 17,000 New York City students get the daily exercise they need to thrive.  

The Recess Enhancement Program is at the forefront of our mission. Can you speak about what makes the Recess Enhancement Program so important?  

So, for me, when I was a kid there was just nothing like this. My school used to take us outside for recess just to run around and play. And I remember when I was a kid, I liked to play around a lot, but I also got into a lot of fights, and bullies wanted to bully me and my friends. Now if I had the Asphalt Green Recess Enhancement Program back in the day, all those things could have been prevented.  
This program is very important, because it helps kids socialize with each other, especially nowadays because a lot of kids, when they go out to recess, just want to be on their phones. With our program, the kids have a choice... You have the option to participate in the facilitated activity by a trained coach who helps you learn how to play these games, helps you get active, and help you learn different ways of problem solving instead of arguing and fighting. 

Learn More About The Recess Enhancement Program

What does Black History Month mean to you?  

Black History Month means a lot to me. This is a month that we get to celebrate a lot of great people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, and to celebrate that this is a different time. The contributions of those people afforded me the opportunity to do what I'm doing now. Back in the day, if we had a program like this, a person of my color wouldn't get to be in charge of a program. I feel honored that I can do what I can do now because of them, so Black History Month is a very important month for me. 

Who is a Black athlete that inspires you and why? 

I'm more into wrestling and boxing and UFC, so I'm more motivated and inspired by people like The Rock. Dwayne Johnson is someone who made me want to just get into wrestling because of his charisma, his energy, and his funny and corny jokes that always made me laugh. Everything that I do, especially with Asphalt Green when it comes to public speaking, is inspired by The Rock. If he can get out in front the millions upon millions of his fans, talk in front of a bunch of people that don't know him, and make people laugh- I found that to be amazing. 

All of that helped me grow at Asphalt Green. As part of The Recess Enhancement Program, we were presenters, we did professional development, and as the program grew, I started presenting at Department of Education events. When I first started doing that, I thought about The Rock.  




Yvonne Fraser, Asphalt Green Member  

A lifelong New Yorker and public-school teacher for over 37 years, Yvonne became an Asphalt Green member in 2023 after discovering our free daytime memberships for older adults. Since joining, she has been a regular at our Battery Park City Water Exercise class, which has helped her stay active and mobile while suffering from knee pain. 

What were your first impressions of Asphalt Green? 

I thought it was really fabulous-- Just to come across and just walking past and looking at the pool, I was impressed. How many places do you know that have a nice pool? The only other place I know is on 7th Avenue-- there's a city pool here. [Asphalt Green] is very nice and convenient.  And there are at least 10 to 15 people that come to class I’m in. It's been a big thing.  

What’s your favorite part about being an Asphalt Green member? 

There are a lot of places they'll just say ‘oh, what is she doing here?’ I know I'm sitting around with my cane and I'm limping around. But I wasn't always like that. Since I joined Asphalt Green I've been able to move around, and not as quickly as I used to. But, hey, this is better, because sometimes I can't even bend my knee. Before I  couldn't get in and out of a car, and that's something I can't get used to not being able to do. But this helps me improve. It's a win-win situation. Asphalt Green is convenient and for a senior citizen, I don't have to go too far. And it's serving a purpose. I'm reaching my goal without having to get on the subway or go a distance.  

Learn More About Our Older Adult Programs

What does Black History Month mean to you? 

There's always time to celebrate the contributions African Americans have made in the United States to help it grow and prosper. For me, Black History Month was always a big celebration. Whether I was at work or at my church, it was always something to commemorate. You can't forget what’s happened, even if it's been a long time.