The other day I got an anonymous message in the inbox. When I opened the message, my jaw dropped. This guy was irate and went in on the sisters. At first I started to dismiss it, but then he started making points that I felt needed to be addressed. The problem is, I don’t have any answers for him. It should be easy for me to do, but I can’t find the words to answer the question when I am not the one in the situation.
Here is the brunt of what was stated (summarized of course):
I am a single ?? year old black man. Let me start by saying that I love black women. There aren’t any creatures on earth who move me like black women do. However I am noticing a trend. Black women who I know and went to school with aren’t taking care of themselves. Most of them are out of shape or morbidly obese.
I am not the fittest person in the world but I do make it to the gym to try and keep myself healthy and in pretty good shape. There are a few black women in the gym I frequent and they are on top of it. They look great. Even the women who were a little heavy look awesome and something about them sweating it out everyday makes them more and more attractive.
I even have a sister that I have been with for quite a while. She see’s me going to the gym and I always request that she comes with me and the first thing she says is no… I just got my hair done… or it’s no… I’m going watch television. I even purchased work out equipment for the crib and she still doesn’t use it. I want her to be healthy and feel good about herself but she just doesn’t want it for herself.
The question I have is why don’t more black women go to the gym? I see so many white, Asian, and even Hispanic women who frequent the gym. Not that many sisters though. Help a brother out and shed some light on the situation.
First of all let me say that I am happy that you turned to me to write this post, however it is hard for me to put my finger on the answer to the question. You may have accidentally stumbled on something that needs to be addressed but maybe in a different manner.
African-American women have the highest obesity rate of any group of Americans. Four out of five black women have a body mass index above 25 percent, the threshold for being overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It may even seem to you that your lady friend you speak of views the gym as KRYPTONITE and she wants to stay as far away from it as possible. The thing is, being in shape and staying in shape is hard work. It’s a lifestyle change or commitment that is really hard to achieve.
To shed more light on the subject I shared your message with a few females that I know who work out. One in particular broke it down best and you should read her response.
BLACK WOMEN DO WORK OUT
Let me start by saying kudos to you for working out and trying to stay healthy. One issue I run into many times is black men who do not work out. I know that they DO, because I see it every day, however the guys I tend to meet and date don’t seem to be into as much. This is a problem. A man who does not workout has no chance in ever having something serious with me. It is a requirement. Maybe because both of my jobs revolve around health and fitness, I rather have a man who is on the same page with me and my lifestyle.
With that being said, I do understand where you are coming from. However, I must disagree with you, that the trend is black women are not working out. I believe quite the opposite is currently trending. I see more and more women of color working out and running especially, than ever before. I am a 33year old woman of color and in 2003 I decided to do my college senior project on the issue of black women versus white women who work out. There wasn’t much comparison back then. Much of what I found made sense, but it wasn’t excused in my book. Hair and voluptuous curves seemed to be a reason that many black women related to as a “barrier” (excuse is what I call it) to exercising. They didn’t want to mess up the hair they take pride in keeping done on the regular. Nor did they want to lose the womanly thickness that they embrace far more than their white counterparts do.
Today, with the influx of natural hairstyles, more research/education about the benefits of physical activity and a first lady who exemplifies a fit black woman, black women are putting those beautiful bodies to work! With Facebook pages like “Black women DO workout” and national organizations like “Black Girls Run” (I suggest you Google them both), it’s hard to deny a transition over the last 10 years. I am constantly surrounded by women of color who enjoy working out and are proud of being fit. I know many black women who have their own fitness studios, personal train and instruct fitness classes.
There’s no longer this huge focus on just how we look, but it’s about how we feel and what we are doing for ourselves to live healthier longer lives. Through social media and blogs, there is an overload of support for black women to step up to the challenge and live better. It is inspiring to me. I even see it when I run out in my communities. More and more women of all shapes, colors and sizes, walking, running, and getting their children and families involved too. I ran my first half marathon back in April and I was brought to tears by the sea of black women embarking on a 13.1 mile journey to the finish line right next to me. I know a dozen of black women who did that race. I myself went with a group of black women. We committed, trained for 3 months, finished and now we are excited about our next fitness goals.
I’m not sure which gyms you are looking in, and maybe the black women you know may not exercise, but I assure we are out here and we are going HARD! At the end of the day a person has to want to make better choices for themselves, regardless of sex, age or race. Making the commitment and having the self-discipline is an individual thing. If you have a problem with dating a female who doesn’t exercise I would suggest thinking long and thorough about where you want your relationship to go. It’s nice of you to want to support her in being more active but if she is not ready, she will not budge.
You cannot change another human being. It has to be something she wants for herself, first and foremost. And please know that being sedentary has way more consequences than just weight and clothing size going up. Risk factors go up as well, for unwanted chronic diseases that plague African-American communities in staggering numbers. Those diseases lead to complications, medications and cost big bucks to manage. The stress that comes along with that, and negative outcomes in other areas of her life…WELL that’s a whole other chapter in the book of life.
Again, I invite you to do some research. In your corner of the world you may see a smaller picture. But generally speaking, being a STRONG black woman these days is more than just being a backbone for the family, a very capable single mother, or fighting to compete in corporate America. It’s about lifting weights other than what’s on their shoulder and running miles, but not away from responsibility. It’s about putting themselves first so they can handle their business accordingly. You may be surprised at the success stories and testimonies that black women are sharing about their process to a better self. You may even be motivated to challenge yourself when you see these women, and what they are really out here doing! Black women DO workout. Support the movement! ~ Jannah B.