My Favorite YouTube Fitness Channels

I have had an on-again, off-again, relationship with fitness. I’ve done yoga, pilates, a zumba class or two, stability ball, spinning, and 9 months of Crossfit. Crossfit was way too competitive and I sacrificed form, for speed, which resulted in injury. Spinning was too intense, and I pushed myself harder than my body could stand. Out of all of those different classes and training styles I’ve discovered that the easiest way for me to get fit, is at my own pace.  I found that YouTube fitness videos allowed me to do that. I can pause the video, or rewind if I missed a move. If I look a fool, it doesn’t matter because only my dog is watching, and I pick up his poop so he’d better not judge me. Below are three of my favorite fitness YouTubers.

  1. Cassie Ho, Blogilates

    Cassie Ho lives in California and her cheerful, positive disposition is the only way to get through her sometimes tortuous workouts. She started her fitness channel in 2009 and has built it into a brand. She has a fitness planner, custom water bottles, apparel, accessories, a DVD, and a book coming out this year. Every month she sends out fitness calendars to her email subscription list. These calendars prescribe different videos for each day, which makes it harder to become bored with the routine. I really enjoy her body positive messaging and cheerful outlook. Watching her videos doesn’t feel like a punishment, and that’s key for any fitness regimen.
  2. Keaira LaShae, SuperHeroFitnessTV

    Keaira LaShae is a singer and AFAA certified trainer and kickbox instructor. I stumbled upon her videos one day because I wanted to do a dance workout that was more hip hop oriented. Her channel is full of videos on nutrition and exercise. She even has some videos on prenatal fitness. The dance videos are fun, energetic and features her original music. If you’d like to get more serious, she has a subscription online fitness service that provides exercise routines, nutrition information and recipes.
  3. Kai Wheeler, KaiWheelerFitness

    Kai Wheeler is a personal trainer based in San Diego, CA. Her background in D1 track and field is a bonus if you are a runner and need some tips on increasing your performance. Her videos are clear, thorough and easy to follow. Many of her videos features equipment that is easy to purchase, such as TRX, dumb bells and bosu balls. I would recommend watching a video at home and then doing them with a partner at your local gym if you don’t own the equipment. Her videos are often set in gyms so you can easily identify what you’ll be doing and what machine to use. Aside from her YouTube channel, her website organizes all of her videos neatly and provides contact information if you’d like to take it to the next level and hire her as a trainer.

Why Afropunk is Losing Its Cool

When I read that there would no longer be a free ticket option for Afropunk, I knew it was over. Not the spirit of the festival, not the incredible acts that perform each year, not the loving space it;s known to be, but the atmosphere was dead. At least, that was my initial reaction. I considered not going. I checked the list of musicians and quickly decided that I would go (hello Grace Jones?!) but I’d temper my expectations.

People said, “Oh they need to make money.” That’s true. But going from 0 to 60, almost quite literally, was not the way to introduce paid-only entrance. Either way, it is what it is and I decided to see for myself how the festival differed from the previous two years I attended.

The lines were ridiculous. Usually the lines were broken into free tickets, fastpass/reserve tickets, and VIP. Now that there’s only regular and VIP, the majority of attendees were split among 5 to 6 lines advancing at various paces. I had a white woman behind me who HAD to be related to the “told by applecare” woman. She flipped out after complaining louder and louder about how slow our line was compared to others. She even said, “I hope you guys complain too so it’s not just the white bitches.” That sounds like a personal problem and good luck. I will not act a fool so you have a “black friend,” get outta here.

The demographics were different. Without the free admission so many young people and lower-income people were not in attendance and there was such a different feeling in the crowd. Some people might say “who cares?” but it is important to have representation from various socioeconomic groups and age groups. Festivals tend to be exclusionary. When you add up the price of travel, overpriced food trucks, merch at the event, and the tickets themselves, it becomes an expensive venture. The irony of the park being right across from public housing apartments was not lost on me. It’s ridiculous to have the festival in a neighborhood where residents potentially can’t even attend.

All in all, the music was great, there was still a sea of black faces, but Afropunk will never be what it once was. I will cherish those previous years with a certain fondness. I felt like I could meet anyone at Afropunk. Black people from all walks of life enjoying music and each other’s company comprises a HUGE part of why people show up faithfully. I don’t know what it is now. But I hope they bring back the free tickets.

Fellow attendees, what did you think?

Life, Career, and Where the Hell I’ve Been!

Hey everyone!

Yes, it is I, Captain Kirkeisha. I’m alive. I’m okay. I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth even though this blog certainly has. Sorry about that.

I know the burning questions you all must have. “Are you still gonna blog?” “What were you doing?” “How do I know you aren’t bluffing?”

Let’s answer the first question. YES. I am still going to blog! I have been thinking and thinking about what I want to blog about. That has been my greatest roadblock so far. Do I add another overthought piece to the web? Do I start talking about my personal life? Do I make listicles a la Buzzfeed? I’ve decided to do reviews. I like food, television, film, books, comics, and I think you deserve to know my opinion on it. Also, I need an excuse to use all the gifs I have on my hard-drive.

Second question, what was I up to? I made a big step in my career. I quit a job, went on an 11 week adventure, and now I have a new job in a new city! I learned a lot. I met a lot of cool people. I grew immensely as a person. That takes time, energy, and focus. I had to turn on tunnel vision to accomplish everything this summer and now that I have reached my goal (employment), I can go back to blogging!

Last, how can I prove that I’m not bluffing? Short answer, I can’t. I will do my very best (cue Pokemon theme song) to publish on this platform weekly. Life happens. This summer life was upended for me in a very significant way and I hope that as the dust settles I can continue writing. I really appreciate everyone who has read my posts and anyone who becomes a reader in the future.

Signing off,

CK

Three Black Woman Owned Businesses I Love

Springtime excites everyone. The weather warms up, clothes brighten, children play outside, and pollen mercilessly attacks me. Besides the pollen onslaught, there are many birthdays and holidays in spring. Mother’s Day approaches quickly and I’m left thinking what to get my mom, grandmothers, and aunts this year. Oh, and my sister. And my friends. Every year there is a new mother to send a gift to! I figured the best way to show appreciation for these lovely Black women, is supporting businesses run by Black women. According to a recent article, Black women are the fastest-growing demographic of entrepreneurs. With the rise of initiatives like Small Business Saturday, I started looking for small businesses run  by traditionally marginalized groups. I’ve come across several, but today I will highlight three Black woman owned businesses I love.

  1. Ixora Botanical Beauty

    Ixora Botanical Beauty Essential Pack
    Ixora Botanical Beauty Essential Pack

    I’ll admit, I was immediately attracted to the website due to business owner Mercedes Edney’s West Indian background. Hailing from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Edney creates delicious smelling body products. With a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and a M.S. in Occupational Health & Safety Concentrating in Environmental Management, I knew I could trust her products. Ixora Botanical Beauty has a wide variety of items: cleansing oil, lip balm, body butter, body wash, scrubs and more. Each product is formulated with natural ingredients and customers are able to choose their own scent for several items. There are dozens to choose from. I recommend the Orange Blast Invigorating butter. The scent gives you a natural boost in the morning and your skin stays soft all day.

  2. Simply Cecily

    Simply Cecily Blue Amina dress
    Simply Cecily Blue Amina dress

    Skip the shawls and buy the mom in your life a beautiful piece from Simply Cecily. Cecily Stewart Habimana crafts vibrant, well-constructed garments by fusing traditional West African prints with modern sensibility. I met Cecily at a breast cancer event this past fall. Her pop up shop caught my eye with its rich colors and prints. Her customer service left a lasting impression on me and the clothes made an impression on everyone else! I went home with the brown Ami top for a subtle twist on casual chic. For bolder fashionistas, I recommend the reversible blazer, a statement piece for sure. Make sure to follow her on Instagram for sales and previews of the next collection!

  3. AllyElleCards

    Orange is the New Black fans will love this one!
    Orange is the New Black fans will love this one!

    If your mom likes a vulgar joke or three, or you know a mom who does, AllyElleCards will give her a laugh. From Dr. Who to Kanye West, creative mastermind Elle Lewis captures the wittiest ways to greet one another. Just over a year old, her cards have sold like hotcakes and continue to grow in selection. I recommend ordering the greeting card set. Choose any three cards and get them for $7! A steal!

How I Learned to Appreciate Rainbows on a Cloudy Day

Breathe and be. It’s the exercise my therapist recommended I try. You close your eyes, take a deep breath, and reconnect with the physical world. She told me to do this because I’m constantly floating away in my mind. You see, I’m mentally ill. I live with dysthymia and social anxiety, mood disorders. I have mental illness. I suffer from mental illness. I live with mental illness. I battle mental illness everyday and will continue to do so forever. I originally intended for this post to be educational. I intended to cite facts and counter statements about how we’re not actually that crazy. Instead I’m going to tell my story. I know someone needs to hear it.

Where it came from, I have no idea. I’ll leave that to the scientists. I remember always being a very scared child. I was scared of outcomes that I couldn’t foresee. I was scared of outcomes I could see. I was scared of other children. I was scared of men. I was scared of my parents. I would retrace my mental steps and they all came to a dead-end. There was nothing concrete. There wasn’t an event or moment where I could say, “A-ha! That’s when it started.” In fourth grade we read about Abraham Lincoln and I learned the word melancholy. I never heard this word but it seemed to fit me pretty well. Fast forward to high school and the word still fit. I started going to therapy and I was still confused. I didn’t understand where all these thoughts and emotions were coming from. It was like someone asked me to unravel a ball of yarn with my toes. Two therapists later I finally got diagnosed. I also learned that the first doctor told my mother something but she forgot what it was. I hope it disappeared with her memory. So here I was, in college, realizing that the first 19 years of my life were spent on a roller-coaster of confusion and emotional strife for a reason. It was a small comfort.

Yet I denied it. I denied it when I was up at 4 am from insomnia. I denied it when I lost my appetite. I denied it until I reached a place where I could not deny it anymore. When I couldn’t deny it I rationalized it, minimized it. It’s not that bad. I kept saying that until I was at my worst. I kept saying that when it seemed like 50 nurses kept asking me to repeat the story over and over and over again. Why do they keep asking me the same questions like I’m crazy, like I’m sick? Stay overnight? For what? I’m fine. That night I had to walk a couple miles to my car from the hospital in the cold rain. I walked only thinking of my car, get to the car, keep moving, almost there. Finally, I sat in the car. When the door closed I started the ignition and started thinking of what to tell my parents. Suddenly it hit me hard. Damn, you’re really sick. I sat in a health facility a week later, looked at the other people in the waiting room and thought, “I don’t want to belong here.” I ended up denying more intensive treatment because I didn’t want to belong. I didn’t want to be like that. That, is the homeless person on the sidewalk. That, is the person who cannot live alone. That, is the parent whose children were taken away during a bad episode.

Why couldn’t I ride my bike every morning and do some yoga and say a small prayer and have it all go away? I mean, that would probably help now that I think about it. But there is no cure, no quick fix. Even medication is a long series of trial and error until you reach a this-one-is-the-least-annoying-and-life-shortening. It’s scary to accept that you have a mortal enemy inside you. It’s scary to think that I could wind up back there again. It’s always in the back of my mind and as much as it scares me, it motivates me. Get better because you don’t want to be like who you were. When I reminisce on that time it feels like it happened to a different person, because now I feel and act like a different person. My treatment is a part of my life now. Brush my teeth, write a list, schedule my appointment, walk the dog. Sometimes I forget what I’m dealing with until I can’t get to my support system. Like when I take my contacts out and remember, this is what your world would look like without treatment.

I want to end on a positive note, because this is a hard road to travel. It will exhaust you. Some days eating and showering will be the goal. Other days will be very productive and smooth. Every small victory counts. The losses count too, because you survived them. I’m getting through one small step at a time, like the tortoise. I’ve learned to respect my boundaries. Maybe I can only go to one party this weekend because otherwise I’ll be overwhelmed. Perhaps living alone is liberating for my friends, but living with others gives me support. Whatever keeps me healthy is a good choice even if others don’t understand it.

Remember to do your best, forgive yourself, breathe and be that.

2015: for the joyful warrior

2014 is over.

As the confetti settled, I started to reflect on the year. Last year was full of heartache, both personally and on a national scale. By the time Thanksgiving came around I was done with 2014. I started the year believing that happiness could be on the horizon, but by the end despair tucked me in to bed every night.

My cousin passed away suddenly from breast cancer and then 6 weeks later my grandfather passed away from Multiple Myeloma. I was distraught. I didn’t understand why two very important people in my life had to die. I didn’t understand why Mike Brown was shot down, why DeShawnda Sanchez was murdered, and so many other Black people. Death embedded himself in me. He was running through my veins, seasoning my food, in the shower stall soaping my back. Christmas could not bring me any relief either. It marked the ten year anniversary of my other grandfather’s death.

I sat down one night and I thought to myself, “What are you going to do?” I could not bring any of my loved ones back, I could not protect another innocent Black life from the police, and I could not move forward with death in my bones. I decided to abandon happiness and hold on to joy. Happiness is not sustainable in this world. Shit happens, life happens. Joy is fleeting, but it is so fulfilling. I peeled off my grief, flake my flake, with the joyful memories of my family. I beat back the despair that grips every Black person in America, with joyous laughter made with close friends. I decided that no matter what comes down the road, I will take up my sword in shield, my joy, and fight.

Life is fleeting. It is scary and unpredictable. Death is promised, pain is inevitable, sorrow is guaranteed. But joy is a gift and we must cherish those moments, and hold them close in the cold darkness.