PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT Takes Over NYC’s Central Park With Pop-Up Boot Camp


The expansive PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT family continues to defy stereotypes. This past Sunday, July 15th, over 40 women of color congregated in New York City’s Central Park to sweat through a spectator worthy boot camp challenge in the name of health and sisterhood.

Black women alone, are 56.6% more obese than any other demographic in the United States. Lack of knowledge on the importance of exercise and a clean diet is a possible contributor to the disproportionate ratio.

PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT Founder, Aeshia DeVore Branch, challenges obesity statistics through the intersection of fitness, community, and pleasure for females of all ages. The NYC Pop-Up Boot Camp this past weekend was no exception.

The event, led by various PGS Ambassadors, featured get-to-know-you ice-breakers, inspirational team chants among women, and relays for prizes. Women’s health and wellness guru, Zamara Amankwah (pictured in all black below), instructed a series of boot camp-style workouts for participants to break a sweat to, cheer each other on, and smile in victory after completion. Learn more about Zamara here.

After cooling down with personal trainer Jennifer Okorie, a raffle, in which everyone received a prize or two, concluded the experience. However, I could have spent another two hours with these girls.

Growing up, active women of color rarely crossed my TV screen, graced my favorite magazine covers, or pushed me as a gym coach in school. I am positive the absence of black girls who looked, talked, or thought like me, led to my belief only a certain kind of woman could be the face of fitness and wellness.

To sweat, take up space, and commune in public spaces like Central Park as healthy women of color felt radical and essential in a moment like now.

I saw many girls much like myself this weekend for the first time in my life. Young women of color, fit to flip the status quo about our community and capabilities and ready to unlearn negative stereotypes about ourselves, our people, and our future.

What was your favorite moment from this weekend, sisters? Share below!

Also, check out more photos on our facebook page and our full video recap on IGTV.

Mecca Russell, is a graduate from The New School in New York City. Both her Journalism & Design coursework and internship experience reflect the intersections of reporting, photo, and documentary. She enjoys storytelling through mediums of film, writing, and photography and is inspired by journalism's power to tell untold stories. She's contributed to Teen Diaries & Pretty Girls Sweat as a weekly writer and reporter. When she is not editing or writing, Mecca is often found browsing through books at your local bookstore, sipping a matcha latte, or dripping in sweat after a HIIT and strength training workout in the early mornings. Mecca is also a singer-songwriter and can be found gigging around her city quite frequently. She looks forward to learning new ideas everyday and is always up for a challenge!