Black Women Don’t Work Out and Other Myths

There are some stereotypes about black women that I find very hurtful, such as the notion that we’re all loud, angry gold diggers. Then there are others that I simply think are hilarious, such as the myth that we don’t exercise. Let me say that people outside the black race are not the ones who seem to think this. I’ll never forget the time I mentioned to one of the black teen girls I worked with at my old church that I like yoga. Her reply: “Yoga! Black people don’t do yoga!”And I remember when I became a certified aerobics instructor in college, members of my own family were surprised because “black girls just don’t do that.” 

Well, this week I spent as much, if not more, time at the gym as I did when I was getting paid to be there. 

I mentioned last week that I’ve decided to try to burn 3,500 every seven days and… I did it! Here’s how:

Wednesday I went to Body Jam, a dance-based aerobics class, and burned about 533 calories according to one of’s health calculators

Thursday I tried my gym’s new kickboxing class. It kicked my butt and melted about 762 calories.

Friday I burned 495 calories on the elliptical. 

Saturday and Monday I hit Body Step (a step aerobics class) to burn about 533 calories each of those days.

And yesterday I did some weight lifting for about 45 minutes and put in an hour on the elliptical for a total of 667 calories. 

That put me at a grand total of 3,523 calories! And I’d like to add that whether I was on the elliptical or in a group fitness class, when I looked to my left and right, I was surrounded by brown-skinned beauties. 

Another misconception about exercise is that it’s something you only do if you’re trying to lose weight. While that is currently my goal, I have loved working out since I was (a very thin) adolescent. I remember doing jumping jacks, push ups and sit ups at home as a teen and my parents asking, “Why are you exercising? You aren’t fat!” But exercise can give you this amazing natural high and make you feel incredibly strong and proud. That’s why I plan to stick to this 3,500 plan even after I’ve reached my goal weight.

What’s your exercise regimen? 



  1. There are lots of black women (and trainers) at my gym, in every age group.
    I’m on a diet now and working out four times a week (wish I could do more). I’m taking a kettlebell class twice a week at work. Love it!

  2. Ooops.
    Didn’t mean to be anonymous.

  3. There is an actual group on facebook called black women dont workout. they offer some pretty helpful tips. i think most people in general arent going to burn 3500 cal cause we are lazy.

  4. Hi Jai,

    I’m actually working with personal trainers and a group of women (diverse) to lose weight. We are training and watching our food intake. As a black woman, yes, I have struggled with my weight my entire life, but I have been on track teams, swim teams and have a gym membership. Good for you, Jai! That’s an excellent goal! You’re my inspiration. :-)– Diane H. (My g-mail is acting up!)

  5. I was JUST having this conversation at the gym yesterday with two friends of mine who are also black females. I think people have this stereotype because black women don’t want to “sweat their perms out”. I’ve always enjoyed exercise in some capacity since middle school when I played basketball. Currently, I go to the gym 3-4 times a week and do 45 minutes of running or riding the bike, and close to an hour of strength training. Yesterday, I also played racquetball for the first time and had so much fun!

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