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The Three Mistakes Black Women Make at the Gym

I’ve had a gym membership for 11 years. Over the years I’ve seen way more white women than black women working out (a different article for a different day). And when I do see black women in the gym I notice we consistently make the same mistakes. Notice I say “we”. I too have made these mistakes, but once corrected, I was able to reap the bountiful blessings of the gym. And I want you too as well. So here are the three mistakes black women make:

1. Too Much Cardio/Ineffective Use of Cardio

My first love is running outdoors. I love a good run, but black women spend too much time on the treadmill, elliptical, Stairmaster or bike. Cardio has its benefits but if you’re like me, you want to be toned, firm and look amazing naked. 30 minutes to an hour on the treadmill is not going create a toned, firm body. Yes, you sweat. Yes, you will drop some pounds. But cardio is not going to make you look good naked. Unless you do cardio properly and that involves HIIT. High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts involve short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower intense exercise. My favorite form of HIIT is to walk the treadmill at 2.5 to 3.0 mph for a minute and then run anywhere from 7.5 to 9.0 mph for 30 seconds and then back to walking at 2.5 to 3.0 mph. I will alternate between the walking and sprinting for 10-15 minutes. HIIT burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time and it helps to build muscle which is a perfect Segway to the 2nd mistake we make in the gym.

2. Not Enough Heavy Lifting

The more time you spend on cardio, the less time you have in the rack. If you want to build the body of your dreams you must lift and lift heavy. A lot of women avoid the rack because they are afraid that if they lift too much or too heavy they will look like a man. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We don’t have enough testosterone to look manly. We will however be curvy and toned. Yesterday at the gym I deadlifted singles at 225lbs. Do I look manly? It can be intimidating in the weight section with all the men grunting and groaning but don’t let that stop you. Incorporate the deadlift, squat, and press into your workout routines and lift as heavy as you can without sacrificing form. When you get stronger, lift heavier. Use the bar, dumbbells (not 5lb ones either) or kettlebells. Make lifting an integral part of your workout routine and you will fall in love with the results.

3. Not Stretching Before Working Out

I have recently realized the importance of stretching prior to working out. And I don’t mean a quick 2-minute stretch. Stretching for 5-10 minutes before working out loosens up the muscles and prepares them for the heavy loads. You’ll be able to workout longer before becoming fatigued and less likely to experience muscle strains. I find that when I stretch my workouts are much more productive. I can lift heavier and longer. My favorite stretches are butterfly, shoelace, and sphinx.

Stretch for 10 minutes+ HIIT Cardio for 10 minutes + Heavy Lifting for 40 minutes = The Perfect Gym Workout

Bonus Mistake: You can’t outrun your fork! 70% of your body composition is based on what you eat. What you eat in private, you wear in public no matter what you do in the gym. Incorporate intermittent fasting, juicing, and plant- based foods into your daily routine and you will reach your fitness goals faster.

Kathleen is a Published Author, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Yin Yoga Instructor, Intermittent Fasting Specialist, Herbalist and Death & Mourning Doula

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I Didn’t Forget Where I Came From; I Just Couldn’t Stay There.

“Healing yourself is the glo up”


I had a realization recently. I was raised to be great BUT play small. I can still hear my father, “If you ain’t gonna do it with excellence, don’t do it at all. I don’t celebrate mediocrity”. I took that message to heart. Coupled with my innately intense personality, I poured my heart into everything I did. If I was going to do it or participate in it then I gave it my all. Each and every time. Anyone who knows me, knows I go hard. One would think with that upbringing and my complete acceptance of it, I would be much further along than I am. Yes, I am somewhat successful, but when I look at my life I am frustrated and a little angry. How does one who never cuts corners, has never made excuses and who has done everything with a spirit of excellence struggle the way I struggle? Then it dawned on me. Although I was encouraged to aspire to greatness, I was also raised to play small. I was raised to be great, but not so great that it would highlight the inadequacies in others. I was unconsciously taught that it is NOT okay to deviate from the group. I must maintain the status quo of our family and church community. And if I do happen to deviate then it must be kept a secret.  I was unconsciously taught that others are more important than myself. I was unconsciously taught to not be too big because it might make others feel small. Don’t let your light shine so bright that others are blinded. My entire life I’ve been great but oh so small. That seems oxymoronic, but it perfectly explains why I have had an internal conflict most of my life. Running full steam ahead, then looking around and not seeing anyone from my family or church around me so I must stop. And not only stop, but self-sabotage in order to fall back in line with those around me.

The message I received as a child and teenager was that I was not allowed to be happy if others around me were sad. I was not allowed to be blissfully in love while others were single and miserable. I was not allowed to be in excellent shape and be healthy while others were struggling with their weight and health. I was not allowed to be financially secure and free while others lived with a poverty mindset.  I was not allowed to enjoy life while others lived from one struggle and drama to the next.

 “Learn to say that’s on you.

Your behavior is on you

The way you move is on you

The choices you make are all on you.

The way you live, its all on you

Stop absorbing the pain of other people,

recognize what belongs to you and what doesn’t


This realization revealed yet another. I had been jumping from box to box all of my life to satisfy others. My parents, extended family, church family, and finally society. It’s as if from the day I was born, boxes have been shoved toward me and I was told, “This is where you belong. Get it and don’t ever think about getting out”. As the lightbulbs were going bonkers in my head, I was having difficulty articulating what I was experiencing. But I came across a post on IG by @iamness which perfectly described what I was feeling:

“At some point we stop taking on the energy of others. We stop absorbing the sadness, the guilt, the victim mentality, and the pressure. We stop telling our friends and family we relate to them because we honestly just don’t. We stop finding reasons to match the vibration of others and we force those around us to raise theirs on their own. You are allowed to heal and not relive the past every day. You are allowed to be unrelatable and selfish about the mindfulness of your energy. You are allowed to water yourCELF and grow unapologetically.”

Wow, just wow… And here I am. Deciding that not only will I be great, but I will also be as big as MY life allows. I will no longer use others as a measure of how far I can go or how happy I can be. If I do not relate to you, I will not force myself to. If you are not on my level, I will not bring myself down to yours. I will not participate in anyone’s story that is contradictory to mine. And if that makes others feel badly, so be it. I will no longer sacrifice my growth for others. I am choosing to not apologize for the bright and bold way I show up for life. I will not apologize for wanting more and actually putting in the hard work to get more. I am stepping out of boxes. I am establishing boundaries. Even if that means leaving family and friends behind. The guilt though. Leaving behind people you’ve known all your life. Those who have meant so much to you and have helped you along the way. The gratitude will forever be there. For those who want to come along and catch up, I’ll leave little clues behind so others know where I have gone. I’ll never forget where I came from. I just can’t stay there. Even if it means leaving others behind.

Kathleen is a Published Author, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Vaginal Steam Practitioner, Yin Yoga Instructor, Intermittent Fasting Specialist, Herbalist, Rootworker and Death & Mourning Doula.