Starting today, Aaron Perry, the founder and president of Rebalanced Life Wellness Association, will be embarking on book tour throughout the United States with the goal of visiting 250 Black barbershops nationwide and impacting 30,000 Black men across America.
For many years, Perry has been deeply connected with Madison’s Black community, especially Black men and youth, while helping under-represented communities have the opportunity to live fuller, healthier lives. He is also the author of the book “Through the Storm,” the triumphant story of history’s first African-American insulin-dependent diabetic Ironman triathlete and one of the books that he will be touting on his nationwide book tour.
Perry wrote the book about his inspiring journey as he transformed from a man who was once 256 pounds with poor control of his diabetes to becoming the first African-American insulin-dependent diabetic Ironman triathlete.
“That book has been shared with diabetics primarily in the United States, but also over the world. Still today, I get people who reach out to me regarding how inspired they were about my story of being diabetic and not knowing how to swim and doing the Ironman,” Perry tells Madison365.
The first stop on the book tour will take place today, 1-2 p.m., on Madison’s West Side at Resilient Hair Design Barbershop, 6634 Mineral Point Rd. On Thursday, Nov. 30, the book tour will stop at JP Hair Design Barbershop, 584 Grand Canyon Dr., also from 1-2 p.m.
In addition to delivering copies of “Through The Storom” the book tour will also tout five books he has written from his health series focusing on diabetes, blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, and diabetes.
“At the end of each book, there are reflection questions. So when men read the book, they can reflect on what they read,” Perry says. “These are the things that we want guys to do: reflect on the conversations and be moved to take action.
“Once I get about 50 percent of the book tour completed, then we’re actually going to create a once-a-month podcast where we will be able to revisit all of the barbershops that have had the book and we’re just going to reflect on what people read, and talk about how we can continue to improve the health of Black men,” Perry adds. “We know that Black men’s health remains in crisis and this is just our way of basically responding to that.”
On top of spreading health information through the various books, Perry hopes that the Black barbershops he visits will consider incorporating a health center.
“It’s my goal and has always been my goal to replicate our barbershop health model nationwide,” he says. “On top of the books, my long-range plan is for each barbershop owner to open a replica of my nationally recognized barbershop men’s health education center which provides clientele with daily access to preventative health screenings, insurance navigator, health information, blood pressure monitoring, covid boosters, flu vaccinations and mental health counseling.”
Perry’s Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association made history when it launched the groundbreaking Men’s Health and Wellness Center inside of JP Hair Design, the largest Black barbershop in Madison. The Center is an innovative health model for reducing health disparities that works with businesses, corporations, community-based organizations, health educators and the faith community to create an awareness of the major health concerns affecting African Americans and to actively promote a healthier lifestyle.
“There have been places that have hosted health-related screenings that have taken place in barbershops over the years, but we are the first to do an actual Men’s Health Center inside a barbershop,” Perry says. “We knew that we couldn’t just do a blood pressure screening, take the data and leave. If you’re going to do it, there has to be follow-up. By putting the Men’s Health Center physically into the barber shop, we were able to provide them the resources for follow-up care.”
This is just the latest endeavor for Perry, who has made it his mission to help improve Black men’s health and to lessen persistent racial disparities in a variety of health-related categories in Madison, in Wisconsin, and beyond.
Thanks to his appearance on the Megyn Kelly Show and being honored as one of Time Magazine’s 2018 “50 Most Influential People in Health Care,” he is already known nationally as a leading Black men’s health advocate.
That will be helpful on this nationwide book tour, sponsored by Dean Health Plan by Medica, that will make its first stops on the tour after Madison at Dean Health Plan locations in Janesville, Beloit, Fond du Lac and Beaver Dam in Wisconsin. The tour will soon after expand to Minnesota with Medica stops in Minneapolis/St. Paul and Rochester, and Illinois with stops in Rockford and Peoria.
Perry says his goal is to complete the full nationwide tour by December 2026. It all starts with the soft launch at Black barbershops in Madison over the next two days.
“We will be starting with local and regional stops but ultimately we will be on a national book tour. That’s the goal. This book tour came about just looking for ways to continue to inspire and encourage men to focus on their health,” Perry says. “While men are waiting to get their haircuts, they will be able to get the book in their hands and read a nice story and be inspired and maybe even reflect on their health and be moved to take action. That’s really the goal of the book tour.”