Fitness class grooves to gospel music while working out

Photos by Timothy Ramsey

Fitness class grooves to gospel music while working out
August 10
04:00 2017

Hundreds of workout plans are geared toward every demographic.  Sharon Cunningham of U-Fit 2 Health and Wellness nonprofit gears her workouts around gospel music.  She held a two-day “Gospel Groove” workout event during the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) at the Benton Convention Center last Thursday and Friday morning.

Cunningham has been doing these workouts during the NBTF since 1993.  She says she holds these classes in memory of a friend who passed away and was very close to Sylvia and Larry Hamlin of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company.

She says the reason for incorporating gospel music into her workouts is because “that’s who I am.”  She said gospel music heals, lifts and elevates when you listen to it.

“I am a music lover, period, but gospel music his like survival and it’s something our ancestors survived on,” she said.  “It was a time when they couldn’t do anything but sing, and that kept them going.  It keeps you going, and I play certain songs to show people you need to put God on any music.”

The class is a low-impact workout class with constant movement, elevating the heart rates of the participants.  This is a perfect class for individuals with limitations because of bad knees, hips, ankles or feet.

The women in the class seemed to be highly entertained and enjoyed their experiences.  Some were first-timers and others were Gospel Groove veterans.

“Sharon is a friend of mine and I wanted to come out and support her,” said Cheri Evans, a workout participant.  “I think exercise is a great way to start the morning, and she is always high energy, which makes for a good workout.”

Harriette Dudley added, “Every time I come to the festival, I look for Sharon Cunningham and I come.  I don’t feel like I get a workout until I come here every other year.  It’s uplifting, energetic and there is sisterhood.  I really enjoy the music as well.”

Winona Hollis-Hauge says she decided to attend the class because she heard that there was a gospel component to the workout. 

“I got up this morning because I wanted to get my praise on to be healthy and exercise,” she said.  “The spirit came into this room and blessed us so we could keep our heart rates up and blood pressure down so we could exercise with women of faith.  I enjoyed the camaraderie, the Christian spirit and just being a part of the National Black Theatre Festival and all of the glory it brings.”

Cheri Ertha said she feels the African-American community doesn’t always look at their health as a priority.  She credits Cunningham for her commitment in assisting the community on focusing on good health and health eating.  She says as a physician, she really appreciates Cunningham’s tenacity in the fight for health.

For Cunningham she says she just enjoys seeing the smiles on the participants faces as they work out. She would like to spread the word to a larger audience about her nonprofit and the classes she holds during the festival.  She says as they festival continues to grow, she anticipates her classes will do the same.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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