Movement beyond boundaries, redeveloping our relationship to fitness
As we change, so does our connection with fitness, but through conversation we can discover new ways to participate.
Zainab K-Swanzy and Charis McGowan
19 Oct 2022
In partnership with Nike.
There was no better feeling than hearing my classmates cheer me on as I ran the 200m sprint final, or laughing with my friends on the minibus, travelling to our next netball tournament. School sports filled my days with excitement and instilled a sense of determination within me.
However, university wasn’t as easy. I couldn’t afford a gym membership and studying a lecture-intensive course meant I couldn’t commit to joining a team that required training twice a day. The more responsibilities I had, the more I struggled to maintain the same level of motivation for the sports I once loved.
“I realised that beyond the obvious physical benefits of playing sports, we gain so much from just taking part”
Later, I reconnected with sports by joining my company’s netball team, in turn, it helped me network and get to know my colleagues. Over lockdown, I went jogging during breaks and even learnt to hula hoop in my garden, so that I wasn’t stuck inside. I realised that beyond the obvious physical benefits of playing sports, we gain so much from just taking part. The fact that these activities also improved my fitness was a bonus. You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest, you just need to be open to new experiences.
Move Out Loud, gal-dem’s new podcast with Nike, explores this exact notion. Tinuke Oyediran, the triple Guinness World Record holding professional skater, invites guests to discuss their perspectives on sport and movement, reflecting on their own careers and exploring themes such as community, representation and confidence.
“You don’t have to be the fastest or the strongest, you just need to be open to new experiences”
I first met Tinuke when I interviewed her about alternative fitness through skating. She inspired me then, and now again with this podcast, to become more open-minded when it comes to sports. Listening to other people share their individual relationship to sport has motivated me to reconsider my own, and this is what I found.
1. Defy stereotypes
Finding a way to express ourselves through movement encourages us to be bold, and we should not be afraid to take up space.
Trina Nicole, a dynamic dancer and champion of body positivity, explains this in the first episode.
“It literally makes you feel free”Trina Nicole
Trina’s Caribbean heritage exposed her to Soca music at a young age, and with it, she learnt there were no limits to how she could dance. She felt like she didn’t fit the mould of the typical dancer, but finding dancers of every size on social media inspired her to embrace her body. All that mattered was that she was moving, and she found the freedom to move in whatever way she wanted.
Move Out Loud’s second guest was Debra Nelson from Football Beyond Borders, a charity that works with schools to support young people to get into football.
“No matter what element of football you’re in, whether it’s playing, coaching or being a pundit, you’re constantly building relationships”Debra Nelson
Debra experienced first-hand how isolating sport can be, especially for young Black girls interested in male-dominated sports like football. So, she created a safe space for girls to feel confident while playing, gain access to role models, and bond with one another through their challenges. This sense of community and shared passion motivates them to continue pursuing their goals, becoming role models themselves.
It doesn’t matter how old or inexperienced we are, it is always possible to inspire others.
3. Mindset & Wellbeing
In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Nike Run Coach Dora founded Ultra Black Running, a running club for Black women, and non-binary people. For Dora, running was an outlet to release emotions, during a time where she felt mentally drained.
“Even if you put your shoes on, you go outside and you run or walk for 60 seconds, you’ve still started your journey”Dora Atim
Sharing her journey about trail running, she explains the self-esteem issues she faced throughout. She started with small runs, gradually increasing length over time, until one day, instead of stopping after reaching the 30 minute mark, Dora kept going until she was so far from home that she panicked and ran all the way back. Once she got to her door, she realised that she had just run her first ever 10K.
We should appreciate every step we take to develop ourselves, because the journey is just as important as the end goal.
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “Black people can’t swim”, a self-perpetuating stereotype that discourages many of us. But looking at Alice Dearing, Nike athlete and first Black female swimmer to represent Great Britain in the Olympics, we see it is just that: a stereotype.
“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it”Alice Dearing
Alice shared her story about being Team GB’s only Black swimmer with gal-dem in 2019, which through its popularity, caught the eye of her now agent, boosting her swimming career. She has come full circle, returning to gal-dem to encourage other Black people to swim too, sharing memories of swimming as a kid, doing her first ever open water race. She’s the role model that so many of us didn’t have growing up.
Trina, Debra, Dora and Alice all had different journeys but they had a unified experience as fitness helped them to explore and understand themselves. Move Out Loud has taught me that as long as you’re learning, moving your body, and having fun with it, you can just get the most out of any sport, and the positive impact it can have on your life is greater than you could ever imagine.
Listen to the series so far here.