Life and Religion
|Ready, set, sweat for fitness advocates' 10th anniversary|
|Black Girls RUN! with races, conference|
|Published Wednesday, August 28, 2019 8:17 pm|
|BLACK GIRLS RUN!|
|Black Girls RUN! is sponsoring a race series and fitness conference as part of its 10th anniversary.|
Everyone loves homecoming.
Black Girls RUN!’s sixth annual homecoming known as Sweat with Your Sole celebrates the organizations 10th anniversary. The conference and race series takes place in Charlotte Sept. 19-21 and the deadline to register is Sept. 7.
“My favorite part of the conference is the connections that happen between the women,” said BGR owner and CEO Jay Ell Alexander. “Women are coming from all walks of life, all sizes, all colors, and they are coming with the same mindset of making themselves healthier and more active, and finding resources to do that. Through that they are connecting with each other, and getting even more information outside of the speakers we have dedicated, to just learn from each other, and create relationships that go beyond the conference. That is something that speaks to our organization as a whole, as well as the impact of the event.”
Sept. 20 features keynote speaker Brandi Harvey, founder of Beyond Her, an active wellness brand for women of color. She is a former high school teacher, NPC competitor and personal trainer.
Sept. 21 includes an 8-kilometer (4.97 miles) run as well as a half marathon in partnership with Race 13.1 Charlotte, the official race for the event. The weekend includes workshops for all fitness levels.
“A lot of people already have apprehension, or put up a block, saying, ‘I don’t run—I just want to walk,’” Alexander said. “We definitely understand that. One of our taglines is ‘no woman is left behind.’ We meet you where you are. That’s important to just communicate from the forefront. We have built our conference so that we offer classes that it doesn’t matter if you are just coming off of the couch, or if you’re a veteran runner and you’re just looking to add something new to your health portfolio. We have the basics of just learning how to run, or if you just want to do a dance class. We have a wide array of speakers and resources. We definitely pride ourselves on saying, ‘we meet you where you are.’ If you are looking for something specific, and it may not be running, we can still offer something to you. That way you can still equip yourself to be a bit healthier.”
Alexander became involved with BGR in 2012, eventually taking over as owner and CEO in 2018.
“Women are definitely feeling reinvigorated about the mission and the movement of BGR,” she said. “We’ve definitely seen an increase in membership. We’ve added three new groups over the last three to four months. We’re looking to add more groups throughout the year.”
As BGR celebrates its first decade, the mission of the next decade does not waver. African American women have the highest rates of obesity in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Four out of five black women are overweight or obese.
“We definitely want to see continued representation of African American women in race endurance events,” Alexander said. “We want to see the statistics of obesity and the overweight rate go down as well. Overall, we want to be a healthier community. Over the last year, we have created a nonprofit to assist with more community engagement in health and fitness in our local community. We really want to start driving our foundation home so we can start creating sustainable programing at the local level for women to be involved in the local community.”
Alexander was introduced to BGR in 2011.
“What kept me involved with the organization is the connections I’ve made with the women,” Alexander said. “Women tell me all the time that BGR has changed their lives. Those testimonies are really what keep me driving and hitting the pavement—no pun intended—each day. My personal story is really similar to other people. I came out of grad school [at Virginia Commonwealth University]. I hit my heaviest weight. I needed an outlet to bring down my blood pressure. I was way too young to be on any type of medication, and I found running. I found the joy of the pavement to be my outlet. In the meantime, I also connected with a group of women who held me accountable and became lifelong friends.”
Alexander will not be racing at Sweat with Your Sole, as she is expecting her first child, a boy, on Sept. 10. She ran her last half marathon at eight months pregnant, and is scheduled to run her next in February in Miami.
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