Are you one of those who asks that question? Don’t be silly. Of course we work-out – but our attitude towards exercise can be blamed towards cultural expectations and pressure. Exercising regularly helps prevent illness and promotes good mental and physical health. However, many of us sadly don’t do any form of exercise due to different reasons or barriers.
For over a year now, I’ve been taking part in 45 minutes cardio workout at least 3 times a week. Thanks to the encouragement from my partner and my amazing and inspiring instructor Lucy Brydon of Ocean Fit Studio in Whitley Bay, working out is now something I look forward to doing on a weekly basis. Lucy makes the classes fun and the other members are really friendly. Live around Whitley Bay? Give Lucy a chance – she will make you love working out before you know it. Prior to joining Ocean Fit Studio, exerting myself beyond walking wasn’t something I did regularly because I didn’t feel I needed it. Then the pandemic hit and slowly I started gaining kilo, after kilo after kilo, until I decided that enough was enough. I didn’t like how I looked, my favourite clothes weren’t fitted me anymore and I knew what I had to do. So I took the decision to make changes for myself but to also see exercise as a lifestyle as my body and mind needed it.
I’m lucky to have my family’s support when it comes to including working out in my routine but unfortunately not many black women are able to do that, as the earlier mentioned pressures and cultural expectations require them to have meat on our bones. Many African and black societies consider women who are bigger to be much more suitable and pleasing to the eye. Weirdly enough, the very same societies are quick to call you fat when you start gaining a bit of weight.
Inequalities within the black communities is also another factor that should be considered. Gender roles and responsibilities, means black women are less active than their counterparts. It’s also been reported that black people are more likely to live in disadvantaged neighbourhoods with poor living conditions that come with limited space to exercise. This reality that others don’t face, leads many to think that black women don’t exercise at the same time allowing many black folks to believe that exercise is designed for while people and those with plenty of money.
Black people, how may of you grew up with parents who exercised? I take it not many?! Having parents who drove everywhere and who we don’t recall breaking a sweat also contributes to the mindset of how we value exercise today. Exercising hasn’t been seen as something that puts food on the table, so instead, time is spent doing things that will pay the bills.
My Body Needs The Exercise
Another contributing factor as to why many of us don’t exercise, is not seeing many others who look like yourself in the gyms and fitness studios. This is not to say that this venues are bot all welcoming – its simply because as a community, black people face discrimination and racism on a daily basis and in order to avoid that, we find it better to stay away or flock to a different kind of group or activity that that guarantees more brown skin.
Now you know that we do exercise and many more would love to exercise – but personal and communities barriers which include family, childcare responsibilities, lack of social support, lack of safe spaces for black women limit many black womens time in engaging with any form of physical activity. What I would love to see, is the black community, individuals, businesses, civic and third sector organisations coming together to redesign interventions that can really support the us. Some of the interventions that come to mind are; social support, health education, partnering with community groups and leaders and more.
Now more than ever, I appreciate exercising and overtime I have discovered that it benefits me in so many ways, especially in every aspect of my health.