Getting fit does not need to be in isolation

Bootcamp shows black community can also achieve fitness

Fitness bunny Juanita Khumalo.
Fitness bunny Juanita Khumalo.
Image: Supplied.

When you think of fitness, a 5km jog, doing sit-ups, planking or going to the gym at 5am every morning might be top of your mind.

Although these are all important and great to have in your routine, fitness public figures, apps, hashtags, online challenges and boot camps are showing us that getting fit is something that does not need to be static or happen in isolation. 

As we become more community orientated in our approach to working out, as black women with our thick thighs and round derrieres we are taking back fitness one squat at a time – something that was evident at this past weekend’s Trove Wellness Bootcamp. 

“Fitness is still predominantly a white industry, in the beginning it was just white men then it slowly brought in white women,” says Juanita Khumalo, holistic wellness and mental health advocate and founder of Trove. 

“The aesthetic of fitness has always been the same... with the focus of it being on looking fit and not necessarily being fit and healthy. A transformation has been happening where they are now including black women but it still needs to be more inclusive of all body shapes and sizes because healthy comes in different shapes and sizes."

Image: Supplied.

The boot camp, which takes around three months to plan, catered to all women and was made up of HITT exercises, Abs and bum circuit, yoga and dancing to amapiano instructed by Mpho LePantsula. 

“Dance is an important part of fitness and I believe all dance should be included in that,” says LePantsula.

“My work is to shine light and showcase previously excluded spaces while teaching. For example, you will never see ballet dancers begging in the streets because they cannot find work but you will see pantsula dancers struggling.”

Dancing as part of the boot camp’s programme served as a reminder that fitness has always been something within the black community. 

“When starting out, find what you love... whether it is hiking, cycling, weight lifting, Zumba or even pole dancing. Find what makes you happy because when you enjoy something you have a higher likelihood of being consistent at it,” advises Khumalo. 

Apart from being an inclusive space where black women can network and work out together, Khumalo emphasises the importance of getting an accountability partner for your fitness journey, which is one of the objectives of the boot camp.

Image: Supplied.

“Doing something with someone is not only more fun but you will be able to push and support each other,” says Khumalo. 

“Join a class and leave the responsibility of the workout to the fitness instructor who can plan the workouts for you, correct your form and prevent injuries. Stretching is also very important, do not forget to stretch.” 

Although we felt the intensity of the exercises the following day, which Khumalo assured us would happen, as a fitness bunny the Trove Wellness Boot Camp felt like a love letter to black women who are taking care of their bodies.

A space filled with kindness, laughter and warmth with a strong theme of empowerment. One of the biggest lessons taken from the experience and for anyone on a fitness journey was to find spaces and people that make you feel comfortable. We can only hope for more spaces like these for black women which will be inclusive to all because that is just our nature. 

“We as black women deserve nice things,” laughs Khumalo.  

*Find boot camps in your local area and look out for the next Trove instalment happening on July 23

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