Virtual workouts have made exercising at home fun again. Moving the body for at least 10 minutes a day helps keep the mind and the body active on cold winter days, particularly when you just don’t want to leave the house. It’s also lovely to be able to roll out of bed and onto your yoga mat to start the day with movement, meditation, strength training, dance, or whatever allows you to start your day on an endorphin high. Here are our five favorite Black fitness divas who will keep you motivated and moving throughout the next wave of the pandemic.
Kukuwa Fitness: West African Dance (IG @kukuwafitness)
Our first fave is a trio of Black women who are family. Kukuwa is a West African dance fitness program created by Kukuwa Kyereboah (aka Mama Kuks) that encourages participants to “Move Your Boombsey!” while learning dances from Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. The word “Kukuwa” means “to grow” in Swahili, but the entire energy of the Kukuwa community is joy. The choreography includes super fun, dynamic full-body dances that lift your spirits and leave you drenched in sweat. Each class has music from different African countries, and instructors teach the culture behind each dance. Kukuwa also provides diverse targeted workouts that focus on specific parts of the body, like the back, arms, and core. Kukuwa is a family business, and classes are led by Mama Kuks, her daughter Coach Cass, and her goddaughter Kree, who heads up Kukuwa for moms and babies. Kukuwa Fitness is available on-demand at kukuwafitness.com with a three-week free trial period, and there is a generous offering of free workout videos on the Kukuwa Fitness YouTube channel. Previous dance experience is not required to dance your booty off.
Mary O.: Strength, Cardio Kickboxing, and HITT (IG @nycfit)
Can you be a mom of two, a kickboxing instructor, and also a bodybuilder/fitness model and a wife? Mary O. sure can. If you’ve ever attended her live classes at Equinox NYC, you know what a brilliant force of nature this woman is. Mary O. has provided full free workouts via Instagram live throughout the pandemic, including HITT, strength, cardio, kickboxing, and exercises focusing on legs, arms, glutes, and abs. Mary has a dance background and always has the best music to keep you excited and ready to sweat. These IG workouts are so fun and challenging. The music slaps, time flies by, and there are plenty of exercises that don’t require any extra props. You can be blissfully barefoot using only your bodyweight and get a total workout that will leave you happily exhausted. If you were inspired by Halle Berry’s boxing skills in her film Bruised and are ready to learn how to box your frustrations away, Mary O. is a skilled boxing instructor for the at-home fitness platform Liteboxer, which offers a full-body advanced technology boxing workout with music and expert instruction. Check it out at liteboxer.com/pages/.
Faith Hunter: Meditation and Yoga (IG @spirituallyfly)
The perfect remedy for a pandemic-frazzled nervous system is guided meditation with Faith Hunter. During the past two years, yoga and mindfulness meditation have experienced an extraordinary renaissance at home, and with over ten years of experience as a yoga guide, Faith Hunter is a yoga teacher you can trust. She is the author of two books, Spiritually Fly and Shades of the Soul: A Meditation Journal. Meditation and yoga with Faith feel gorgeous on the body, and her guided meditations soothe the mind perfectly. On social media, Faith is always giving uplifting content with mindful intention. Her journal writing prompts are right on point if you love to journal. Faith also provides an extensive catalog of free yoga and meditation classes on her YouTube channel. If you’re looking to create significant change in your life this year and dive deep into a sustainable yoga and meditation practice, Faith Hunter provides marvelous tools and wisdom to guide you on your journey inward.
Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts: Yoga (IG @chelsealovesyoga)
Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts is more than just a Peloton superstar. She is a Spelman grad with a Ph.D. from the Division of Educational Studies at Emory University, and founder of Yoga and Literature Camp. Dr. Chelsea’s knowledgeable approach to yoga educates the mind and body from the inside out, allowing you to learn the internal architecture of the yoga poses and melt into strength and flexibility simultaneously. Dr. Chelsea’s Sunday morning Gospel yoga classes on the Peloton app are an elixir for the soul if you love gospel music. Classes can be taken live or watch the recording on your own time. Her guidance through the poses provides ample space for unconditional self-love, growth, and body acceptance. Yoga with Dr. Chelsea is accessible for all levels and body types and her tone is welcoming and kind. Taking Dr. Chelsea’s yoga and meditation classes feels like home. You don’t have to buy a Peloton bike in order to download the app and take classes. Anyone can participate in yoga on the Peloton app.
Ally Love: Barre (IG @allymisslove)
Barre is a fitness class that combines elements of ballet, pilates, and yoga. Ally Love’s barre classes on the Peloton app are challenging and fun. Ally’s fantastic choreography will make your body bop while your muscles burn, encouraging you to smile through the challenging exercises using only your body weight. No shoes or additional props are required for barre classes, and all body groups get quality workouts. With an extensive dance background, Ally provides expert instruction on posture and functional core strength training that encourages students to practice alignment even when not participating in the class. Barre with Ally is a fantastic workout for people who are postpartum, older adults, anyone who spends a significant amount of time working on a laptop, and for targeting muscles that aren’t significantly used every day. Here’s a tip: on long writing days, I take several 5 or 10 minute barre classes on the Peloton app during my workday. The Peloton app offers a month free with a download or two months free when you register for the classes on the app. In addition, the courses on the Peloton app don’t require a Peloton bike. There are classes for strength training, running, boxing, and specific workout programs for core, barre, yoga, meditation, boxing, and more.
With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus taking the nation by storm, many of us may not feel comfortable heading out to the gym this winter to get our fitness on for 2022. Give yourselves permission to work out at home and get the best kind of sweat on.
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Jeanine is a Writer, Actor, member SAG/AFTRA, AEA, Podcast host, Producer, CEO VisAbleBlackWoman Productions, Certified Health Coach and Conscious Dance facilitator. Jeanine's mission, centering Black women's stories to preserve our legacies.