What does it mean to be part of the GGS Community?
Being a person gone strong for me means being on a journey of self-mastery of one’s mind and body connection.
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I’ve been strength training for three years now. I was playing on a tackle football team four years ago and — after I got a concussion — I wanted to challenge myself in a different way, without playing a contact sport, and rely on myself in a sense.
I turned to strength training with the mindset that I wanted to exercise my brain by learning as much as I could through strength training.
What does your typical workout look like?
My training now looks different from when I was powerlifting and training for a meet. Currently, I am focused on strength training at least four times a week with alternating upper body and lower body days as well as incorporating more cardio (walking, sprints, or the stair master). I do each exercise for three or four sets depending on the week, and I’m focused on muscular endurance through compound movements, supersets, and higher repetition.
An example of a training day would be working my chest and triceps one day and my back, biceps, and shoulders another upper body day. Some exercises I enjoy for upper body are flat bench, tricep dips, wide-grip lateral pulls, dumbbell shoulder exercises, bicep curls, push-ups. On lower body days I enjoy good mornings, weighted plyometric box step ups, goblet squats, calf raises, and Romanian deadlifts. I usually alternate between legs press and squats depending on the week.
I like to incorporate bodyweight exercises in my training because it keeps me agile and increases my mobility.
An upper body workout for me looks like:
The barbell flat bench and any row variation are in my top for favorites.
Most memorable PR:
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
It depends. I appreciate the personal connections and community that is developed with training with a group. When I was powerlifting with the Strong Life Tampa Bay Team, I loved it! The knowledge and experiences shared from coaches assisted in my physical and mental strength.
I also enjoy the solitude of training alone. I learned about self-reliance at a young age and I think this skill empowers me to encourage myself and others when I do train in a group. When I train alone my sessions are quicker and there’s less socializing so time and mental energy go into my decision to train as a group or alone.
Most embarrassing gym moment:
Less of an embarrassing moment and more of a funny one: the first time I put on SBD knee sleeves. My goodness! I’m glad I had a few trial runs during training sessions before a meet (haha). Those things are hard to get over my calves!
Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
Recently I was told that I have amazing interpersonal skills, that I have the ability to connect with a wide range of people and truly make them feel cared for.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
You. Are. Beautiful.
My mama’s gumbo! We don’t live in the same state, so I don’t have the opportunity to have it as much as I would like. Besides that I enjoy Thai food, Panang Chicken Curry is my favorite.
Favorite way to treat yourself:
A good massage equates to a great nap. Resting and replenishing my energy is necessary. This summer I have a family vacation planned to celebrate my godmother’s 70th birthday, and that is very much a treat!
“To trace our history, Black/African-American history, is to discover and then realize that the role of sports has never been only recreation, only something we do for exercise or entertainment. For us, sports has been a component of freedom. It’s been the voice we’ve found through our arms and legs when our mouths have been silenced.” — Scoop Jackson
“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” — Fannie Lou Hamer
All About Love: New Visions, by bell hooks
What inspires and motivates you?
My ancestors. My family. My community.
What do you do?
I am an educator. In my current role, I work at the University of South Florida and serve the Department of Residence Education as a Senior Residence Life Coordinator. In my role, I supervise an undergraduate student staff, write lesson plans, and implement our Residential Curriculum with learning goals in academic engagement, interpersonal skills, global citizenship, and wellness. I’ve had the privilege to work with student-athletes, first-time-in-college students, multi-year and international and graduate-level students.
Next fall, I will be joining Florida State University’s Sports Management Department as a full-time doctoral student. My focus will be on cultural studies and contributing to the sports industry from a critical and cultural lens.
What else do you do?
I am the creator of Rooted Resistance LLC, an organization that is committed to creating socially just wellness environments for queer, trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people.
Rooted Resistance facilitates accessible functional strength training as a form of resistance for the QTGNCNB community and historically untapped intersectional populations.
I believe in collective responsibility, reimagining, and creating empowering mind-body-positive spaces for the queer and trans community.
To promote my message, I’ve created Rooted Resistance Apparel and I host regular RootCamps which are group training sessions.
Describe a typical day in your life:
My days start early but responsibilities fluctuate depending on the demands of my job. A few things that are consistent are that I work out, make time to connect with people who bring me joy, exercise my role as an entrepreneur and invest in Rooted Resistance, and take a nap when needed and if possible. Have you caught on that I value a good nap?
Your next training goal:
My next training goal is to be intentional about incorporating more hip and shoulder mobility work into my training. I am looking forward to getting back on the platform at the end of the year or beginning of 2019.
For what are you most grateful?
I am most grateful for my mother and her unwavering support in my life. She is the core of my family and has been a role model in instilling the value of education, finding my voice and using it to have a positive impact.
Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
Last April I was invited to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Inclusion forum as a panelist to share my experiences and expertise on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) Best Practices in Sports. I was on a panel with athletic administrators from around the country, and was able to share personal experiences of student-athlete growth and development through the partnership I helped to facilitate between our Residence Education Department and Athletic Department.
Something else I am proud of is creating Rooted Resistance LLC. While this organization is in its emerging stages, it’s been neat to share my vision through training people and providing workshops around queer and trans sports inclusion. In the last year, my connections with people across the country have been encouraging.
There are folks in the wellness and fitness industry who value the personal being political and vice versa. We are indeed decolonizing this static idea of what wellness and fitness spaces are and who has access to those spaces.
Which three words best describe you?
Focused, Self-Assured, Kind
What’s a risk you’ve taken recently, and how did it turn out?
Doing this spotlight is a risk. Everything that I do publically in the confines of the society in which we all function is a risk. Sharing highlights vulnerable aspects of my life, things that I believe are gifts to be sharing with others. I am a transmasculine Black person who navigates spaces that were created to dehumanized and oppress the most marginalized populations.
Overcoming fear has in part been about finding my voice and creating the spaces that I need and that my community needs.
Reflecting on my life and being able to connect my experiences have been a catalyst to sharing my narrative and what I believe. I am the expert of my story and that truly makes me feel strong.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Having access to play sports as a child is something that has guided my life. It wasn’t until college that I was consistently introduced to weight training. I played collegiate softball at a Division III school and we had lifting days. In my late 20s I played on a tackle football team and getting a concussion changed a few things for me. I knew I wanted to get stronger in more than one way. Lifting has enhanced my life and commitment to growing who I am.
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
The coolest: community. Connecting with queer and trans people of color in person and through social media around strength training has been the most powerful for me.
What do you want to say to women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
You can do it. Dismiss assumptions and expectations of what a woman should look like, act like, and be like. Get to the root of that nervousness or hesitation. It’s OK to acknowledge it and I encourage you not to get stuck there. Fear holds us back from so much personal growth. Find what works for you and share with close friends that you are getting into strength training — this will help you have a foundation of support!
If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.
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