When you think of New Orleans, you probably think of Creole food, beignets, Bourbon Street, and of course — Hurricanes. Jazz singer Robin Barnes is on a mission to change the narrative, and make New Orleans a hub for health and fitness as well. Because it’s all about balance, right?

After overcoming a serious illness, she focused on creating a healthier lifestyle for herself which led her to create to a fitness Facebook group. That group took on a life of it’s own and has inspired hundreds of women in New Orleans (and beyond) to prioritize their fitness and to get up and move.

Today the organization — Move Ya Brass — has grown to hundreds of people with weekly group runs and Bounce Ya Brass, Hip Hop Ya Brass, sunrise Stretch Ya Brass and Twerk Ya Brass classes. 

If you’re planning your next trip to New Orleans for ESSENCE Festival or otherwise, find out more about Barnes’ movement which is inspiring women everywhere.

What inspired Move Ya Brass?  

After overcoming a life altering health issue while on tour, I wanted to create a fitness community that would motivate myself and others to live a healthier life through movement and the music of New Orleans.

What does it mean?  

When I was in recovery, my mom walked into my room and said, “Girl, you better get off your ass and move ya brass!” That stuck with me and inspired our motto of “Getting off of the sideline and into a second line”. Everything about Move Ya Brass ties back to my life as a musician and the culture of growing up in New Orleans. We have second lines for funerals, weddings, and on Sundays just because. People follow the brass band throughout the streets, dancing and moving to the sounds of the band. They’re exercising without calling it exercise – I thought – why not take that format and give it to people weekly as a class? 

How do you infuse New Orleans flair into your workouts? 

It’s all about the music and the movements – we have classes like Twerk Ya Brass and Bounce Ya Brass – those are classes and music that are special to New Orleans. When people finish our classes, they feel the same excitement and exhaustion that you feel after dancing with a second line.

Is your background in health and fitness? 

It’s not! I’m a full time musician. 

Why should Black women prioritize their own self-care? 

Because if we don’t, who will? Black women are always expected to be the strong ones, taking care of everyone and holding everything together. But we can’t do that if we’re not first taking care of ourselves first.

You turned a Facebook post into a movement. Do you plan on bringing Move Ya Brass national? 

That’s the plan! We would love to expand to festivals nationwide and be able to add our live music component to our classes as well, to be able to incorporate more of the New Orleans sound with the class. We activated classes at Bonnaroo last year and it was such a fun experience for us. We’re excited to take that and grow to more festivals and on larger platforms.

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