My daughter is the first to notice Barrington. “I like him,” Nisa whispers to me one morning early. “He gave us the Black people nod.” There were several private trainers at our gym but Barrington stood out—and not because he was movie-star fine, which he is—but because his spirit was sunshine and we felt it.
For most of my life I’ve been a non-competitive athlete. As a girl and teenager, I was a swimmer. In my 20s and 30s, I ran distance and lifted weights. But in my early 40s all that unattended hurt—the marriage that ended, the abusive boyfriend who came after—seemed to shape-shift me, horror movie style, almost overnight. I woke up unrecognizable to myself. Me, who never drank, spent more than half a decade drinking too much, eating food that left me swollen, but now sustained. I gained 80 pounds. My cholesterol was 100 points over what it should have been, putting me in stroke territory. I was scared. I wanted to live. But acting on that want was a process.
I began by first ending my unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Then I started walking, simply moving my body more, and annually doing a vegan cleanse. But real exercise? That happened because of Carnival. I wasn’t about to be in one of those skimpy costumes in Trinidad five or six sizes bigger than I needed to be. And that was the beginning of Barrington, a man who helped call me—and Nisa—back to ourselves. Because while I was struggling with years of not caring for my body, Nisa, a dancer who was in great shape, like so many young women, had no immunity against the billion dollar industries that told my beautiful daughter she was not good enough.
Barrington listened to us without judgment and put us to work. And in between laughter and growls, we found that we could run longer and do more pushups. We found that we were strong. For all the times I’ve felt pretty in my life, nothing has made me feel better and more comfortable in my own body than knowing my own strength—physically, emotionally, spiritually. Because choosing health is about all of these. After a few months, both Nisa and I got lots of compliments about how we looked, but none more often than this: You’re glowing.
These days we work out with Barrington online. He moved to L.A. in support of his fiancee whose career took her there. Nisa and I were skeptical about how it would work, but we were unwilling to lose a relationship with a man who had helped us bear witness to our own strength. Our engagement was intimate, deep, and non-transferable.
So, in November, we began meeting online and as promised, we loved working out with Barrington virtually just as much as we did in person. When Nisa became an AKA, she and Barrington, an Alpha man, shared winks and nods about the Divine Nine. And in February when I was sexually assaulted, it was Barrington I first broke down with the day after. And Barrington who made sure I summoned the courage to ask for the support I needed, beginning with telling my daughter. Our workout that day was all about breathing, all about a return to my body.
I rarely admit my initial skepticism about online training these coronavirus days. Most often I brag about how Barrington was ahead of the training curve, that gyms need him to train them on what may become a new normal. And what I know for sure standing back in my body, is that strength is our legacy, bequeathed to us by those first foremothers who were marched thousands of miles from the inland to the coast. Mothers who survived months in dungeons with no light. Mothers who were given two choices: be raped or be killed. And all this before they were forced onto ships, and after that, into the fields where they were forced to build a nation for someone else’s benefit.
Those women imagined us out of whole cloth, believed in our coming even when they were told that there were only two things they were allowed to believe in: labor and death. We are the daughters of the most powerful women to ever walk this planet, women who imagined a day when we would be here, living out the gift of their survival: that we live our lives defined by the joy that a whole health—physically, emotionally, spiritually—brings.
And that’s what I intend to do.
Click Here to learn more about Barrington and the importance of making training a part of our lives.
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