The theme for the 2022 Women’s History Month celebration in March was “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” And given the life stressors impacting the quality of life for nearly all Americans, including the pandemic, inflation, domestic terrorism, mass shootings, and a litany of other social ills, healing and hope are critical for the future of individuals of all ages, creeds and colors. In Black communities though, COVID has had a disproportionate impact on more than just physical health, but also mental health.
Exercise is a tried and proven method for addressing physical and mental well-being both. It can be a helpful tool in combating the effects of certain medical illnesses, weight gain or loss, and reducing anxiety along with fighting depression and mental stress. A local Detroit fitness coach is keeping the issues in mind and working to impact the health of her community.
As more African Americans get into fitness, Black-owned gyms and training facilities are beginning to sprout up in urban areas. Coach Khari Dickey is working to get Detroiters healthy and active with the opening of Konnected Fitness in the city’s West Village neighborhood.
Black professionals in the health and wellness arena are few and far between. Statistics show just over five percent of fitness coaches are African American, leaving little space for conversations around Black health and wellness. As more facilities emerge, Black communities are able to take control of their overall health and address medical ailments related to diet and emotional duress.
“Overall, eating healthier and working out and doing it with proper form and consistency will help to reduce your overall risk or occurrence of hypertension,” said Dickey. “Konnected Fitness supports the overall improvement of health so when it comes to things such as hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes and conditions such as those that impact the Black community, the type of exercise we do, which is more conditioning-based, which is a form of cardio, does actually help to improve heart health.”
In addition to physical fitness, mental health is becoming a more recognized issue within Black communities and discussions are more frequent and candid. Considering all facets of health, Konnected Fitness is a source to guide participants through not only the journey of improving their physical health but also to achieve mental agility as well.
“The intersectionality of physical fitness and mental health is that we don’t exist separately; mind, body and spirit fit together. It’s important when we are working out or creating a certain environment to keep that in mind. It is important specifically for Black communities because working out and being within a certain environment allows us to cultivate things within ourselves by being able to start at a certain point and conquering different parameters within working out,” said Coach Khari.
The offshoots of the pandemic continue to place major strain on health and well-being as weight gain and fatigue are symptoms afflicting millions after the more than two years spent indoors. Women and men who suffer from issues with body positivity often find relief through physical activity. This could lead to results reflected in the mirror and on the scale.
“Konnected Fitness as a brand works to promote body positivity because, in general, there’s nothing within Konnected Fitness’ brand that specifically focuses on body image that said ‘hey you should look this specific way.’ My mission is to connect with your best self through fitness so that allows you to choose your own goals and focus on being a better version of yourself,” said Dickey.
Immune health has become a hot-button issue in the post-pandemic world and the importance of diet on immunity is an issue that has surfaced as a result. Khari is encouraging Detroiters to take an active role in their health by being mindful of their food choices.
“It’s important for communities to get more physically active because physical activity and exercise helps to improve your overall health, but even more in the current scope of things, physical activity actually does help to boost your immune system along with eating healthy,” said Dickey. “Outside of that, there are the mental benefits. The mental benefits actually contribute as well.”
For some, time is a barrier impacting physical fitness. With busy lives, it can be hard to carve out time to get the body in motion, thus taking a toll on all aspects of health. For those not able to find the time to hit the gym, the great outdoors can serve as a natural healer for the mind, body and spirit.
“I always suggest that people go outdoors and walk or find a place where they feel comfortable walking. Even increasing your steps or physical activity will put you in a better position of health. Just move as much as you can; go to the store and park further from the door. Focus on increasing your movement and increasing your steps throughout the day,” said Coach Khari.
Konnected Fitness is located at 8001 Kercheval Ave., Suite 102, Detroit.