BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Local runners are gaining an extra boost of energy at races, thanks to a ‘hype man’ who’s pumping them up. Steve Procknal brings a speaker, a cow bell and his booming voice to WNY races, and cheers on runners during the toughest parts of the routes.
“Awhile back, friends were coming for holidays they would always say to me, ‘Steve, we know know which one the Buffalo terminal is because we see the most unhealthy people there,'” Procknal said. “And I remember when I moved home, I was like, ‘I’m not cool with that.’ And I made a pact about six years ago to say that if I can help improve the fitness and wellness in my own community, then I feel like I’m doing a contribution to the city.”
Procknal, a Williamsville native, recently spent a couple hours cheering on runners at the Moonlight Run 5k. He put himself about a mile away from the finish line.
“When you see the people toward the middle and end, and you’re playing music and you’re smiling, and they see you and make eye contact, all of a sudden they are enthusiastic,” he said. “Maybe they’re dancing through the music and you’re giving them a high five, and maybe it helps carry them through the end of the race.”
Procknal used to run these local races, but realized something was missing: the hype. So now he creates that. And he said he gets just as much out of cheering runners on, as he would if he were in the middle of the pack.
“Lets go guys!! Come on, come on!!”
He also encourages others to do what he’s doing. If there’s a race outside your door, go outside and offer a smile, a cheer or some other form of encouragement. You never know how much it could impact someone.
“It doesn’t cost you anything to get outside and to cheer people on and to hype them, but what you get in return, and what the runners get in return is incredible,” he said.
Procknal is a familiar name in the WNY fitness community. Many know him as ‘Yoga Steve.’ He teaches yoga at local prisons, hospitals and studios in the area. He also co-founded November Project in Buffalo, which is a free workout in the Queen City every Wednesday morning.
Procknal has been to seven to ten races in the area since March. He also cheered on runners last year. He said whether it’s with yoga, or with his speaker at a race, supporting others in their wellness journey is what he’s meant to do.