Black Girls Run
Inspiring Generations of African-American Women to Develop and Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
By Tammy Serebrin
Prima Burney of Winter Haven has been accomplishing her own fitness journey since July of 2012, and now she is helping others in the way she received help through Black Girls RUN!
In 2009, Black Girls RUN! (BGR) was created to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. With BGR’s mission of becoming the leading resource and source of inspiration for generations of African-American women seeking to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, its goal is to create a movement to lower the percentage (80%) of African-American women who are overweight and to subsequently lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary life.
In March 2011, BGR launched over 60 Black Girls RUN! running groups across the nation, ranging from novice to experienced runners, hoping to educate women about health and fitness and to provide a support system to help them reach their goals. Since then, thousands of women have joined in by making a commitment to defy the odds and take charge of their own health. Florida BGR groups are located in Jacksonville, South Florida, and Central Florida of which the Winter Haven group is a part.
Prima, who is the director of dining services and chef for Village at Vienna, an assisted living and short-term care facility in Winter Haven, is the volunteer local run coordinator affiliated with BGR of Central Florida. She started her own fitness journey with Winter Haven’s Habitat Health and Fitness in July 2012; has dropped over 60 pounds and because she felt so much better, her interest in running was sparked. “I saw an ad for BGR and found BGR Orlando (now BGR of Central Florida) on Facebook. I ran by myself, and then I started posting my pictures on BGR’s Facebook page. I reached out to my ambassador, Michelle, from Central Florida’s BGR about starting a Winter Haven group and she told me what to do.”
Prima organizes local weekly runs and a Saturday standing run. “It is mandated that there is a once a week run from a central location. During the week, we find a time for our weekly runs which works for everyone.”Any age can be involved. Prima’s group ranges from approximately 26-48 years old, but her 12 year old and some other younger children also participate.
Prima, who turned 34 in November, describes herself 18 months ago: “I was 224 pounds (my highest was 240), not active at all, having my own health issues. I was overweight, had no energy, and was always moody. I had just had ablation surgery and decided I needed to start my own fitness journey. Black Girls RUN! is a successful support group. There is a weekly blog on the web site; you can go to the Facebook page to put local clinics together; at a fitness clinic in Orlando a couple months ago, I presented my journey.”
There are 1000 women currently signed up with BGR of Central Florida covering Winter Haven, Brevard County, Sanford, Kissimmee and Orlando. Without meaning to be exclusive, although the target audience of BGR is black women, all races are welcome. Prima said, “the name can be intimidating, but it is open to everyone.” In addition to encouraging fitness, BGR provides a comfortable, nonintimidating, and safe forum for black women to talk about things that are particular to their needs such as hair care and the challenges of certain figure types. “Besides encouraging women to get active, we reach out by having healthy potlucks, exchanging recipes, getting together at each other houses. It is a sisterhood where we connect with other women, make friends who care about each other and who you feel you will have for the rest of your life.”
The local group participates in local and state runs. “One of my first members out there was my 55 year old mother. She is a bus driver. She was featured on the cover of the Ledger’s ‘Polk Voice’ running the LEGOLAND race. We will be running in the first annual 5K Turkey Trot in Lake Wales on Thanksgiving and the local group participated in “Run Like A Diva” in Miami in November. We did a boot camp together at Polk State College. We participated in the 5K Red Ribbon Run sponsored by the InnerAct Alliance around Lakeland’s Lake Mirror last month. Our goal next year is to travel more, go to more races and do more things together.”
The overall theme of the annual conference this past September which Prima attended in Charlotte, North Carolina, was “Preserve the Sexy.” The conference stressed running, nutrition and BGR being a rounded experience focusing on the whole person not just fitting into a particular size or being the fastest runner.
Prima is passionate about Black Girls RUN! saying, “we encourage each other to stay active. We all have a genuine concern for each other. We come for the exercise but gain so much more. It is always about your own pace; there is always someone faster and someone slower, but running is an individual sport. We all wait for everyone to finish the route and cross the finish line.”
For more information about Black Girls RUN! please go to their website at www.blackgirlsrun.com or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BlackgirlsRUN.