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Black Girl Fitness empowers minority women

February 6, 2020
<p>President of BGF, Jasmine Parker, stretches after warming up on the indoor track on Feb. 3, 2020 at IM Sports East.</p>

President of BGF, Jasmine Parker, stretches after warming up on the indoor track on Feb. 3, 2020 at IM Sports East.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

A healthy and fit body is Black Girl Fitness, or BGF’s main goal for minority women at Michigan State. Their fitness journey began in spring of 2017, said textile design junior Jasmine Parker, president of BGF. 

“We’re a fitness org on campus catering to minority women, specifically black women,” Parker said. “We just try to teach them about their health and fitness to maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The only requirement to join is to be a minority woman, but they still accept any woman who wants to join, Parker said.

Parker began as a secretary for the organization and worked her way up to become the president. In addition to studying apparel textile design, she is pursuing a minor to become a fitness coach.

Parker said she wants to promote more of what their membership offers to the students on campus.

“We have a personal trainer, you get nutritional tips, you get to work out with equipment in the dance studio,” she said.

Criminal justice freshman Aaniya Carroll said she is proud to be a member of BGF. 

“I really feel at home here,” Carroll said. “When you're in the process of starting your weight-loss journey, when you're around people you're not so comfortable around, it can be an uncomfortable situation. It can be hard for you to focus on your weight-loss, but here it feels like home.”

Carroll said she likes the consistent workout schedule and the motivation she receives from the president and co-president to “keep pushing when it gets hard.”

Vice president and human development junior Jala Williams said BGF is beneficial for her. She has lost weight, learned how to eat healthy, gained a support system and said their bond has improved a lot.

“We have tried to build a sisterhood within the org so everyone knows each other,” Williams said. “We try to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible.”

Their workouts are three days a week – Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mondays are full body and cardio, Wednesdays are upper body and Thursdays are lower body, Parker said.

There are nutritional events that are held for members once a semester and consist of one entrée, a drink and dessert that they provide for free, according to Parker said via email. 

“We also have a PowerPoint presentation to explain to our members different nutritional tips and advice for a healthy lifestyle,” Parker said via email. 

Parker also said a healthy breakfast can consist of oatmeal, bananas, vegan sausages and can all be found in MSU’s dining halls. 

Lunch and dinner can be anything with veggies, turkey meat, chicken, salmon, wheat bread, brown rice, anything high in protein and healthy carbs, said Parker.

Eating healthy isn’t easy, but BGF helps with encouragement, history, philosophy and sociology of science sophomore Nyah Lemons said.

“We get indulged with all these foods, and we get out of shape. ... But this community helps you stay in shape in a way to make us feel better about ourselves,” Lemons said.

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While keeping minority women healthy and fit is their main goal, they are also involved in volunteer work.

“We did a breast cancer awareness walk,” Williams said. “It was a big turnout, it was something we did as a bonding event, as well as to raise awareness for breast cancer.”

Parker said after selling socks, giving out wristbands and face tattoos, all proceeds and donations went to a breast cancer charity.

They visited Uncle John's Cider Mill for community service as well. They drove to the apple orchard and volunteered four hours of their time for The Great Pumpkin Run in September. They set up tables for runners and helped pass out apple cider and medals, Parker said.

In the coming weeks, they are looking forward to volunteering at a student food bank in Olin Health Center.

BGF also collaborates with other organizations on campus including Men of Elite. Secretary for Men of Elite and mechanical engineering sophomore Ryan Thomas said they wanted to support the girls and show them “black men on this campus do support them and anything they want to do.”

Men of Elite collaborated with BGF twice last semester and wants to continue to do so in the future, according to Thomas. He also wants to encourage black women to love themselves.

“Have confidence with you, inside. No matter shape or size, just know that if you stick to it, you will get to those goals where you want to be,” he said. “Don’t … let outside people let you feel like you’re not the right size.”

Carroll agrees and said women should embrace their bodies.

“We are trying to be like Instagram goals. ... We’re put up against these Instagram models that are photoshopping their pictures, they’re getting their bodies done,” Carroll said. “We’re just constantly trying to level with them and not even realizing we are perfect the way we are.”

For more information on Black Girl Fitness, visit their Instagram @bgfmsu.


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