Tag Archives: misty copeland

Black Girl Magic

11 Aug

11231849_10155925756280268_3757726510498463682_nI don’t know what’s changed recently, but I’ve noticed a trend. I didn’t so much see it coming as much as I was so caught up in the whirlwind of it that I couldn’t see what was happening around me. But others did. They saw. They noticed and made sure others did. And it’s amazing.

Not one, not two, but three amazing fitness goddesses are gracing the covers of magazines this week. Not just any goddesses–black goddesses. These women are the epitome of black girl magic. And they are working it!

These three women exemplify what Black Girl Magic is–black women working hard and accomplishing the goals they’ve set out for themselves. It’s not often that the world gets to see such power, atheleticism and elegance exemplified by black women on the covers of national magazines. It’s uplifting and remarkable to see. I know I’ll be picking up my copies and learning more about these phenomenal women.

Serena Williams

11817170_10153516713484826_5534474984263977955_nMy love of Serena is well-documented on this blog. I don’t have to remind you of how her dedication to her sport is awe-inspiring. I don’t need to reiterate how watching her repeatedly defeat her opponents in such swift manner gives me the giggles. I shouldn’t have to tell you again that her body is my life’s goal.

What I will tell you is that she will head into her fourth and final Grand Slam of the season at the end of the month. I’ll fill you in on the fact that if she wins the U.S. Open, it will be the first time in decades a woman has completed a calendar-year Grand Slam. I’ll spill some tea about how Serena has learned to stop being so hard on herself and just enjoy the game. That glee at just being a part of the sport she loves so much has allowed her excel far more than anyone would have expected this far into her career.

And when she takes the court at the end of the month, I’ll be watching as many matches as possible. Because my hero deserves it.

Misty Copeland

misty_essenceJust as I have used a great amount of server space fawning over Serena, I’ve begun to notch out some room for Misty. I love dancers. I loved dancing as a kid. I still have impromptu dance parties by myself in my living room. The freedom of expression through movement is such an incredible craft to master. And Misty has done that in spades.

Like Serena, Misty was met with odd comments about her body. She is muscular, where many of her contemporaries are not. But she is athletic. She can take difficult choreogrophy, attack a move and still make you think she’s moving through the air like a feather. Because she’s awesome.

Essence magazine thought so, too, when they gave her the cover of September’s issue. In one of her spreads, she’s surrounded by several young black ballerinas who are looking up to their role model: the first black principle ballerina for the American Ballet Theater.

Misty is an inspiration to millions of young dancers who may not be the perceived ideal of what a prima ballerina looks like. She is the new ideal.

Ciara

ciara_shapeCiara’s had it rough in the press this summer. Not because of her album. Not because of any diva tirade she’s gone on. And not because of any scandal she’s created. She is an adult involved in a romantic relationship with another adult that doesn’t involve sex. This news would have blown over swiftly if it hadn’t been for her ex-boyfriend questioning her as a mother and her relationship decisions.

Instead of clapping back (as I would have), she took the high road. She ventured a couple of little subtweets and moved on having fun with Russell Wilson.

Then she went on to release the video that makes “Ride” and “Body Party” look like Kidz Bop videos.

Now, to top it all off, the mother of one is on the cover of Shape magazine looking like she’s ready to fight. Ciara has always had a great body. Like Misty, her body is her instrument. She’s an amazing dancer and keeps her body healthy to maintain those physical demands. Like Serena, she has studied the greats and uses that knowledge to make herself better.

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In Shape to Work Out

29 Jul
womens_running_cover

Courtesy of Women’s Running

I have large thighs. Occasionally they look like tree trunks. As I’ve gotten older, my arms have gotten wobbly. I have the opposite of a six-pack. And there’s flab in places I’d prefer it not to be.

I’m also a runner.

When perusing health magazines–or magazines in general–you won’t come across people who look much like me. But get out on the trail, and you’ll find us there. Those of us with short legs and jiggly butts. Those of us who’ve never had flat stomachs but possess awkward gaits. We’re out there with the supermodels and the model parents. We’re making full use of what nature has provided in order to make ourselves healthy.

We’re out there with people like Erica Schenk. It was such a treat to see Erica on the cover of Women’s Running magazine. The August issue features Erica mid-stride in her super-cute running wear, looking like many of the runners I pass (but also pass me).

Erica, who was being shot for a spread on the different available sizes in athletic wear, ended up being the editor’s choice for the cover.

“There’s a stereotype that all runners are skinny, and that’s just not the case,” editor-in-chief Jessica Sebor said in an interview with Today.com. “Runners come in all shapes and sizes. You can go any race finish line, from a 5K to a marathon, and see that. It was important for us to celebrate that.”

It’s important to celebrate athletes of all sizes. Just as Amanda Bingson is a powerhouse at the hammer throw,  Prince Fielder is an amazing hitter and Misty Copeland is a technical wizard at ballet, you can excel at your field.

Or you can just participate in it. Being of able body doesn’t mean having the perfect body. We can’t all be shaped like Brittney Griner or Michael Phelps in order to succeed at a sport. It helps if you want to excel. But the only requirements for participation is a wilingness to try.

That’s it. You just have to want to do it. Getting better at it will come with time. As I said, definition is not the definition of success. Success is defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Did you accomplish the task by finishing your run? Did you do the extra laps at the pool you’d intended on doing? Were you able to increase your resistance and not pass out?

Success! And you did it all without looking like a fitness model.

Do the work and worry about the image later. If you want further defined legs and arms, then make that a goal. Worrying about what you like like on the road to success will only slow you down. As for me, I’ll take my tree-trunk thighs to the pool, spin class and even the park because it’s what I enjoy doing. And my in-shape brethren will be there with me (likely eating my dust).

Have you ever let your size deter you from trying a new fitness activity? If you were able to overcome it, how did you do it?

Where There’s a Will…

10 Sep

medium_10911602524Misty Copeland is amazing. Have you seen her? Have you heard of her? She is a soloist for the American Ballet Theater.

I’m not sure how much you know about ballet. My own knowledge is slim. My history as a dancer is limited to one year in preschool, three years in high school and one year in college. But what I do know: ballet is a very difficult art form. As a dancer, you have to be highly attuned to every muscle in your body. You must have immense strength of both body and mind in order to precisely execute sublimely graceful movements. This takes years of training. Some of the best ballet dancers have been working at it since they were toddlers. Misty didn’t start receiving formal ballet training until she was 13.

Lots of naysayers gave her plenty of reasons why she shouldn’t pursue this dream: her age, her feet, her lack of training, her body. But she had the desire to keep moving and is now one of the most famous ballerina’s in the country.

Under Armour took note of this and decided to feature her in its new ad campaign: “I Will What I Want.”

I’m not big on brand loyalty. You find what you like, whether it’s a a well-known name or something in a bargain bin. But Under Armour may get a new customer out of me. Unlike some other fitness apparel brands, Under Armour is celebrating women who are passionate in their drive to achieve a goal. You have skiers, soccer players, tennis players and the like in these ads telling us how they kept after their goals, what it took for them to achieve them and why it was so important.

One of the campaign’s newest ads features Gisele Bundchen. Yes, Gisele of the idyllic life with a superstar-athlete husband, Victoria’s Secret contracts and amazing legs. But Gisele’s also had two children. Whatever you may think about celebrities, know that they are still human and pregnancy does…stuff to the body. Gisele’s showcases her strength in a place you wouldn’t think would naturally assume is her element: a boxing gym.

We’ve all heard white noise about the things we can and can’t do. The second you tell a few friends you’re going to start monitoring your diet, one of them will find a way to tell you all the ways you’ll fail. The day you step into the gym or the pool for the first time, someone will look at you like an alien. God forbid we don’t all start off with the perfect shape or the perfect dietary plan. Your weight-loss journey takes work. But more than that, it takes will.

Under Armour was brilliant in executing this campaign. They are showing how to, for lack of a better phrase, make your haters your motivators. You can do whatever you set your mind to, health-wise, career-wise, love-wise, whatever. It’s all about what you plan to do to achieve your goals. So muffle the white noise and get cracking.

What do you think of the ads? How do you get past the white noise of naysayers?

photo credit: notmydayjobphotography via photopin cc