• Shanice G. Richardson

Even though we can’t be on the road less traveled right now, we are still going to get ready for the road -- while staying at home.

What we’re not going to do during quarantine is eat ourselves out of house and home. No ma’am. I won’t allow it for us, sis.

I have to tell you to put down the Oreos and pick up the dumbbell. Actually, finish the Oreos. We can start tomorrow.

Right now, I want you to check out the 10 platforms created by or for black women that promotes staying fit AND staying home.

Working out from home is widely encouraged due to the pandemic sweeping across the world. As businesses, such as gyms, remain shut down -- personal trainers are taking their services to social media and online to continue with their fitness training.

If you’re used to busting a sweat on the treadmill, seeing gains from lifting, or running a mile around the track outside, then this is definitely going to be an adjustment for you.

These 10 black women and fitness aficionados are all about helping black women stay fit. What I love most about these group of women is that their journey into fitness was usually accidental -- they took the road less traveled and are paving the way for other black personal trainers.

The list is also filled with women who teach diverse workouts to a diverse group of women. From moms to curvy ladies -- fitness does not discriminate. And as long as you’re willing to put the work in, these ladies are willing to work you out.

Jessamyn Stanley - The Underbelly App

It’s common to become discouraged with a workout because you don’t feel like it’s catered to your body. That’s why I love what Jessamyn Stanley stands for with The Underbelly.

The Underbelly is a yoga app that celebrates body positivity and encourages you to work out from home. All of the sessions, taught by Jessamyn, are recorded in a home setting. The yoga-focused app isn’t only promoting body positivity, it’s also a reminder to everyone that #BlackGirlsLikeYogaToo.

The Femotourage had Jessamyn as a guest on season's two podcasts -- and this girl here is the truth. She opened up my eyes to how one-sided the fitness industry can be, which is why I LOVE what she embodies about different bodies! (See what I did there.)

Brittany Dixon - YouTube

Have you ever tried to tone your booty with a chair? Well, you’re about to learn if you follow Certified Personal Trainer, Brittany Dixon. Brit is all about getting you to a healthier, stronger, and sexier version of you. Though she has a website filled with her products, it’s best to get her fitness tips and workout from her Youtube page.

Massy Arias - Workout Services

I’m not sure how much longer we have in lockdown, but while you’re in it -- you have to do the 45-day challenge Certified Personal Trainor, Massy Arias is having. The challenge will guide your eating habits and keep you motivated with a workout routine.

To get started, you’re asked to fill out a document so the plan can be customized to your need. There is a cost associated with the challenge, so if you’re okay with spending money -- check this challenge out. You can find a list of Massy’s other programs and services here.

Danielle “Ms.Boston” Jones - YouTube

Can’t get a workout in while the kids are home? Include them! Danielle “Ms.Boston” Jones shows you how with a cute workout video, featuring her daughter. You can sift through more videos like this by checking out Ms. Boston’s Youtube channel.

Lita Lewis - Instagram & Online Training Programs

For only 28 cents a day, you can “Follow The Lita” and get whipped into shape. Lita Lewis is a motivational speaker and life coach focused on helping women become the best version of themselves, whether they have skinny or curvy frames. You can see her full list of online training programs on her site.

Anowa Adjah - Workout DVDs

Lose the gut, keep the butt is the motto of our next fitness professional, Anowa Adjah. Anowa Adjah is credited for being the first Nationally Recognized 200-pound Curvy Fitness Professional. She’s also the creator of a successful line of Workout DVDs catered to women of all shapes and sizes.

Ladies that means not only do you not need to leave your home, but you don’t have to worry about losing your booty.

Hejira “Coach HJ” Thompson - Instagram

Sis, get on Zoom but not with your business professional gear. Hejira “Coach HJ”, Certified Personal Trainer, and Sirai Toni team together to teach workouts on the popular video call app.

Hejira offers her services to anyone serious about losing weight, and as a mother of 6, she regularly gives tips about making time to work out to busy moms.

You can catch her zoom sessions at 10 AM PST on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Or, tune in at 10:45 AM PST on those same days and catch her workout sessions on IG Live.

GrpFit - App

This one is created by the brothers, but we stan a man who cares about our health -- don’t we, sis? GrpFit is a dope fitness app I recommend you check out. They work on creating a personalized and culturally fit experience across health, fitness, and wellness through technology and content.

GrpFit offers customized workouts, on-demand classes, and a fitness community. They pride themselves on being the only health & fitness platform for People of Color.

You can try it for free and cancel anytime.

Gymnetics Fitness - Instagram

This mommy-daughter duo has been killing the workout scene for years, with their launch of Black Girls Workout Too. Since the rise of their success, they’ve focused their efforts on creating a private fitness studio, but offer training videos that you can complete at home.

You’re invited to join the workouts with their online challenge #QUARANTINE15! And, tune into Instagram Live for daily workouts starting at 8 AM EST and 6 PM EST.

D. Nicole - Instagram

D. Nicole will have you looking at your home in a whole new light. This weight-lifting beauty is showing you how to work out in your kitchen! Her IG page shows unique, creative ways to get your workout in. She uses household items like towels and bedsheets to substitute common workout equipment.

That’s it, sis. You have found 10 new ways to stay fit at home and get quarantine-fine. Follow us on Instagram and let us know which of these workouts you're most excited to try.

In Season 3, Episode 1 of the Femtourage Podcast, talks to Danni Washington (a Black Mermaid) who is the first African American woman/woman of color to host her own American science television series. We talk about how her parents cultivated and nurtured her interest in marine science, the relationship between Black people and the ocean, and how a trip to South Africa changed her life… then how a different trip to South Africa changed mine lol

Currently, Danni is featured as a correspondent on a weekly nationally syndicated CBS series called Mission Unstoppable with host Miranda Cosgrove who is also co-Executive Producer alongside fellow actor Geena Davis. Danni has also hosted other STEM shows including Science the $#!* Out Of It for Facebook Watch, Xploration Nature Knows Best on FOX, Untamed Science for Pearson Publishing and Ocean GEMS. In 2017, Danni was selected as one of the 10 young rising innovators who was profiled in CA Technologies #STEM10 initiative alongside artist Jaden Smith and other rising stars in the field. Danni also served as the 2018 spokesperson of the nation’s largest celebration of STEM at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington D.C. She is a graduate of the University of Miami with a degree in Marine Science & Biology. She is also the co-founder of the Big Blue & You, a scuba diver, the co-creator of Sea Youth Rise Up, an inspirational speaker, and a passionate advocate for ocean and planet conservation.

Make sure you subscribe to the Femtourage Podcast, follow us on IG, and join our community on the Mighty Network app!

(And what you can do to support them!)

The continual spread of COVID-19 has brought travel more or less to a halt. While we frequent travelers and globetrotters are feeling the pain of quarantine as we sit at home, thumbing through our favorite travel magazines and scrolling through our favorite travel pics on Instagram, there’s another group of individuals who are feeling the impact COVID-19 has had on the travel industry a little more acutely.

Owners of small and mid-size travel and hospitality brands — from tour providers to regional hotel chains to trip planners — are looking at a 2020 that appears very different from the future of several months ago. Cancellations, travel bans, reduced flights and more are just added problems that these business owners have to deal with on top of the stress of day-to-day operations. Compile all this with the added challenge of being a black woman in business and you have a situation that would make some throw in the towel.

After all, according to recent research, black-owned businesses generally have a smaller financial cushion with which to overcome economic turmoil and, following economy reopening, potential black owners rarely can obtain loans in their founding year. Despite this, black women entrepreneurs are making huge progress. According to Inc., minority women control 44 percent of women-owned businesses in the United States and, while the number of white women-owned businesses grew 40 percent from 1997 to 2016, those owned by black women grew by 518 percent.

We spoke with an intrepid group of businesswomen who are hanging tight to their dreams and hopes for the hospitality and travel industry, despite the struggles and the threat of COVID-19’s effects lasting well into the rest of the year — and you can support them, all without leaving your couch.

Myrline St. Hubert — founder of NUME Homes, a lodging alternative to hotels currently operating in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Miami, New York and San Francisco — says she’s been watching the COVID-19 situation since January.

One of the NUME Homes properties in Miami

“I started to plan for the possibility of cancellations due to the spread of the virus. I spoke to my attorneys about our refund policy, which was strictly in the favor of NUME Homes. I paid attention to the airlines which were not looking to issue refunds at that point. I didn’t want to punish my guests, many of whom are business travelers, if they were unable to keep their reservations due to a situation that was out of their control. I wanted to preserve the company’s reputation for the long term,” she says.

“Because of this, I wanted to get ahead of it. I reached out to my clients; I didn’t want them to have to reach out to me. With my understanding of how the virus was spreading, and that it was staying on surfaces, I didn’t want to put my staff at risk. I forewarned staff members that I might have to close down the business and, if so, I’d have to temporarily lay them off. I made an early decision to shut down the business.

“By February, I started contacting guests from Europe, many of whom did not want to cancel their reservations at that point. Some downplayed the crisis into late February — even guests from Italy. I invited them to stay in touch. As the crisis developed, I started getting calls for refunds, which I did on the spot with an email confirmation from each one. They were thankful.”

Despite these challenges, St. Hubert keeps a positive outlook.

“ What motivates me now starts with my family — I have a young daughter and my husband is a doctor who is on the front lines fighting the virus. They both inspire me. I also look at the silver linings of the crisis,” she says. “The environment has improved: People in India are seeing the Himalayas, some for the first time. It’s tough because of the way it has come about; we’re losing so many people. It seems that Mother Earth wanted a change. We’re forced to give her that change. Our world is getting somewhat better.

“I am more conscious of my health — cooking more, baking my own bread. I am more conscious about the cleaning supplies I use. I am spending more time with my daughter, home schooling and being able to see just how bright she is. I’m hearing from relatives I haven’t been in close touch with recently. In some ways, even with the distancing, it’s bringing us closer together. We have time to reflect and we should make the most of it. We are hyper aware. It’s not the usual ‘go-go-go’ where we do things without thinking. I also realize that we are blessed because we have the technology to be informed on what is going on. We are very resourceful as a nation. This is a temporary situation. It will pass.”

Natalie John is CEO of Dreamy Weddings, a destination wedding planning service based in St. Kitts and Nevis. In addition to being unable to keep all her staff during the pandemic, she reports lost revenue from February through June, with clients cancelling their confirmed bookings. She’s thus had to establish a smaller work force, increase her number of part-time workers and utilize more online software tools for work-from-home days.

Natalie John is the CEO of Dreamy Weddings, a destination wedding planning service based in the Caribbean.

She recommends that, firstly, if you do have travel planned, such as a destination event or wedding, to not cancel that travel — simply postpone it. If you don’t have a trip currently planned, make sure you’re following your favorite travel brands’ social media pages and then refer your friends to follow them, too (such as the Dreamy Weddings Instagram page, at @dreamyweddings_!).

Joyce Destang, a hotel owner within the Bay Garden Group, which owns an array of resorts and properties across the Caribbean, tells a similar story.

Joyce Destang, hotel owner, urges travelers to “postpone, don’t cancel!”

“With the onset of COVID-19, we have had millions of dollars’ worth of cancellations or rebookings,” she says. "So far we have managed to keep 90 percent of our employees and are providing them income support through the end of April. However, the income support is still a fraction of their incomes (50 percent for most) and it is having a substantial impact on their lives as well as on the economy. When combined with the cancellations and refunds, we are looking at a situation where we will be burning through well over $1 million in cash flow over the next few months with no certainty as to when things will return to normal. We hope to resume normal operations in May.”

She, like John, also urges travelers to “postpone, don’t cancel!” Many travel brands are offering rebooking offers. The Bay Garden Group is doing just this, giving guests who rebook their trip within a year a free night’s stay.

The Bay Garden Group is rewarding travelers who choose to postpone, rather than cancel, their visits.

Destang has been making significant changes to the way her property does business, both now and after the pandemic wanes. Cleaning protocols have been enhances. New partnerships with Tripmate provide travel insurance that covers pandemics. Cancellation policies are more flexible. For those worried about social distancing months from now, the property’s common spaces, such as restaurants and event venues, are being adjusted to provide more space for individuals. (And if you needed another reason to support Destang and other business owners like her, just know that her property is not only owned by a black woman, but all of the general managers are also local black women, as are 70 percent the managers.)

So, how can you help black women-owned businesses right now?

Take John’s advice and postpone your trip versus canceling it, and take advantage of those rescheduling deals that many travel brands are providing, such as those offered at Destang’s property.

Show your support for black women-owned businesses on social media with follows, reposts and shares.

Then, when it’s time to book new travel post-COVID-19, search out black women-owned businesses to support. Put your travel dollars to a good cause: supporting the black women entrepreneur community when it needs it most.

© 2018 - The Femtourage