Black Girls Run
We’ve been following the growing Black Girls Run movement online for a couple of years now. In that time, it has grown to be quite an epic force on the US fitness scene. So we thought we’d catch up with them to see what they’re all about, the taboo of black girls running and what the future holds for the movement.
- Give us a little background about BGR
Black Girls RUN! started in 2009 by line sisters Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks, as a running blog to help encourage women to stay active and healthy. The blog was an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. In April 2010, BGR! launched more than 60 BGR! running groups across the nation.
The groups range from the most novice, to the most experienced runner, in hopes to educate African-American women about health and fitness and provide a support system to help them reach their goals. The movement has been extremely successful with thousands of women joining in and making a commitment to defy the odds and take charge of their own health.
To date, there are almost 70 groups nationwide, and over 40,000 members.
- Why did you start it?
The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.
- What has been the reaction among the black women you know?
BGR! has received mixed reactions from all walks of life. Like why just Black Girls, or why only running? But, people fail to realize that we have all fitness levels that join our group, and its not just for Black Girls, its for White, Latino, whatever race. We just want people to be healthy and active and adopt a more healthy lifestyle. Overall, black women love it though! Our numbers are increasingly growing, and we are seeing the movement make a difference.
- Admittedly, even over here in the UK, you don’t see many black girls running. Clearly you noticed a similar trend in the States. Why do you think that is?
Unfortunately, Black girls really do not like to work out or run, or sweat. Hair is a big issue. To go natural is a true commitment. I think we also have this perception that you are only sexy if you have a big butt or big breasts, but that is not true. Also, in Black households we like soul food, but we forget that this soul food is high in salt and leads to obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.
- What has been the highlight of the BGR movement so far?
The highlight of BGR! is the growing positive response we are seeing from our membership, to our tshirts, and to our overall following. In 3 years, it is amazing how far we have come and we look forward to what the future holds.
- How many times a week do you run? Do you have groups set up in different cities?
Every group across the nation is unique. I run about 3-4 days a week. In the different areas though, there are some groups that have runs set up daily, or only on Saturdays (depending on how large the group is). We have a total of 70 groups in different states.
- Are you training towards any particular events at the moment?
Ashley is currently training for a marathon, and Toni is looking to complete her first half marathon. Our PR Manager, JayEll Vaughn is training for her first half marathon in November.
- What does the future hold for BGR?
The future is huge for BGR! We have our inaugural race coming up in September in Atlanta, the Drive to End Hunger 5K/10K Race Weekend in partnership with AARP. We have thousands of people coming to the Atlanta area for a national conference and race September 14-16, 2012. For more information, please visit: www.blackgirlsrun.com/drivetoendhunger. BGR! will also be launching new groups later this year.
- What message would you like to get out to women who aren’t confident about running?
It only takes one step to get moving! Take it slow. You are your biggest obstacle.
To find out more about Black Girls Run, check out their website here.