It started as “a hobby business,” a vehicle for a husband-and-wife team of physical therapists to promote their passion for fitness.
The vision that began in 2011 for Jun and Edith Ellorimo to get people “walking and running” is today a Footworks Start To Finish store with a wide community reach to go with a growing network of runners and cyclists.
“It has gone beyond what we envisioned,” Jun said of the Harlingen business he and his wife Edith started over six years ago. “It’s priceless to see the transformations when people become more physically active.”
Footworks bills itself as the only specialty shoe store south of Austin with the capability to assess a customer’s walk and stride to find the best fit to reduce injury and discomfort. Jun talks about the “biomechanics of running” and using video analysis to assess the stride and gait of a customer. There is a science to running as Edith knows as a marathon runner and triathlon athlete.
It is not the elite athlete, however, that Edith and Jun had in mind when they opened Footworks in the midst of Harlingen’s hospital and medical area near the intersection of Ed Carey Drive and 77 Sunshine Strip. She harkens back to their native country, the Philippines, where she said owning a car is a luxury and where people often walk to their destinations.
Arriving in the United States in 1997, they found a far less physically active lifestyle and a nation dependent on car travel. As physical therapists, they have seen the effects of exercise deficiencies in their medical careers. Obesity, diabetes, and heart problems, they say, are just a few of the health issues that can be prevented or alleviated with a more active lifestyle.
“It’s not just for elite athletes,’’ Jun said. “Everyone should be walking, running, cycling, anything to get moving.”
Jun is one of those elite athletes, but said in his younger years he was “a nerd” who leaned heavily to reading and studying over exercise. Today, that nerd is an Ultra Ironman athlete who participates in events that take more than 10 hours to complete in going through long distance levels of running, cycling and swimming.
Jun is a running coach via certifications and training he has earned. He runs and instructs participants in six-month running clinics, highlighting that Footworks “goes beyond (selling) shoes.” He and Edith host frequent fun runs at their store. Cyclists also often use Footworks as a staging ground for weekend rides.
It all points to the community connections that Footworks has with Harlingen. The store partnered with the city for the recent Viva Streets event in the downtown area to promote jogging, walking, cycling and exercise in general. Footworks has been a sponsor and organizer in numerous Harlingen-area running/walking events, including three half-marathons in the city.
In early 2018, Footwoorks and the city will take a big step with Harlingen’s first ever marathon on Feb. 25. The connection to community while running a sound business that has gone beyond shoes is evident to Footworks customers.
“They’ve thrived and grown to provide good expertise in triathlons and nutrition,” said Ryan Henry of Brownsville. “The people who work there are athletes who have conquered everything from 5K runs to Ironman Triathlons.”
Thinking back to their original mission of “let’s get people walking and running,” the couple lights up when talking about the upcoming marathon.
“This store is our vehicle for what we keep pushing for, and that’s to have a more active and healthy community,” Jun said.