Written by Kaneisha Richardson
Black, queer, women do exercise! I’m a black, queer, woman who runs and I love it! It relieves my stress and anxiety, especially when I’m out in nature. It’s a great way to make friends and makes my legs and ass look good! When I’m done working out, I feel like a sweaty badass.
As black, queer, people who face a lot of additional stress, I believe attaining and maintaining good health is necessary for our preservation. It can be especially difficult for women who tend to gain “happy weight” when they get into a relationship to start an exercise program.
But a healthy relationship is not just an emotionally healthy one, it’s also physical, spiritual and mental. If your boo is not willing to join in with you then, don’t worry about it. Make it part of your personal self care routine.
Personally, I’d heard all of the statistics about obesity rates being higher for black people and black women in particular, but the message didn’t sink in right away. However, when I did start working out, I saw the positive impact it had on my health and well being.
If you are ready to begin a workout program/regimen this year, here are 10 tips that helped me and may help you:
1 Take Baby Steps
There is so much information online about working out, and all of that info can be overwhelming to a newbie. Take a deep, calming breath, and take baby steps to figure out what workout is right for you.
2 Commit to the Workout
You could work out twice a week or daily. Whatever you decide, commit to it. Plan for it. Let other people know when you will be unavailable for other commitments during that time. Dedicate the time to your exercise.
3 Do Workouts that you like
If dancing is what you enjoy, keep doing that. If strength training makes you feel empowered, go for it. If there is an exercise that you don’t like, don’t keep doing it just because you think you should. You’ll end up blowing it off.
4 Eat Right
I know. I hate hearing this too, but it is a central part of being healthy. Plus, your workouts will be trash if you don’t work on your diet. You don’t want to do all that sweating for nothing.
5 Don’t go too hard, too Fast
If you are just starting out, this is important. It may feel good in the moment to ramp up that treadmill to 8.5 mph with a level 15 incline. Don’t. It could lead to injury and burnout.
6 Mix up your Workouts
Switching up your workouts every once in a while keeps you from getting bored, and it gives you an opportunity to work out other muscles.
7 Stay safe, be Aware
If working out outside, be careful. I know a lot of us like working out to music, but turn down the volume. Take one earplug out. Be aware of what’s going on around you, and don’t ever get too comfortable. If the vibe around you feels off, leave the area. Alert the authorities if you are able.
8 Figure out your “why” for Working Out
Do you want to boost your mental health? Is it used for alone time? Are you trying to lose weight? Whatever the reason, keep it at the forefront of your mind. When the time comes that you don’t want to work out, remember why you started.
9 Go into your Workout Space with Confidence and a Plan
Don’t let anyone intimidate you. You know why you are in the workout space (gym, park, class), so get to it, and enjoy yourself.
10 Choose if you want to Exercise with a Partner/Friend/Group or not.
Neither choice is wrong.
Bonus: Don’t be THAT one
You know who I’m talking about. The one who purposely comes to the gym without headphones. The one who’s hogging the leg press while playing Candy Crush. The one who doesn’t wipe down the machine/mat after using it. Don’t be that one. Be courteous of others, because you want them to be courteous to you.
Running’s my thing, and it could be yours. If it’s not, there are so many other alternatives for exercise: walking, cycling, weight training, yoga, Zumba or Pilates. Playing sports also works well. Just get out there, and find something that will get you active.
Kaneisha has started an online running community for black, queer folks. If you’re interested in learning more, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Featured image is of Courtney and Ashley, a jewelry-making, married couple. Check out their website at http://www.xoashaco.com.