1001 Black Men–#493


I passed this man as I was entering my current gym, 24-Hour Fitness near High Street. An imposing figure at well over six feet tall, he was really hard to miss. I tried to make eye contact with him, but he was focused on getting out the door and on to whatever he was going to do with the rest of his day. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of very tall men at 24-Hour Fitness. I initially thought it was because of their indoor basketball court, but that makes no sense. You don’t have to be tall to play pick-up ball. Also of interest is the number of middle-aged Black men who are exceptionally tall. I really want to ask one of them to tell me his story. Many of these guys are really buff for their age (they look to be in their 40s or 50s), and I am curious about how they’ve stayed so fit. The rapper Nelly once said that a great body is a gift you give to yourself (and last I looked, he was in amazing condition). I am very curious about why some of the guys at the gym have decided to prioritize their health and wellness in this way. Despite the widespread reports of Black people’s lack of interest in fitness and preventive lifestyle changes, these guys have chosen to gift themselves with health and athleticism well past the age of 40. Their efforts are inspiring, and I hope to follow in their footsteps (to whatever degree is possible for a very average height woman professor).

Ajuan Mance





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