You are chosen. You are worthy. You are enough.
Those were a few of the many takeaway messages at the 5th annual Black Women in Hollywood Workout hosted by Nike and Essence Magazine on Wednesday, Feb. 18. Hollywood trainer Jeanette Jenkins teamed with fitness evangelist Angela Davis to lead 50 PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT students and over 100 celebrity guests, Olympians and tastemakers, including Grammy award-winning singer Kelly Rowland, WNBA superstar Skylar Diggins, Olympic track-and-field star Sanya Richards-Ross, actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell, World Champion Hurdler Brianna Rollins and entertainment correspondent Rocsi Diaz, on a joint path towards finding strength in sweat.
Born in 2011, PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT utilizes social media and nationwide events to encourage girls to acknowledge their inner and outer beauty, highlight healthy nutrition, and influences young women to participate in organized sports. Backing the program since day one, Jenkins said, “PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT is a place where these girls can check in on a daily basis and get a little bit of positivity — and know that they’re going to learn something there.”
From the moment PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT members began to gather at their pick-up location, they already belonged to a bigger family, wearing head-to-toe neon, teal, black and white Nike gear with the intention to crush it alongside some of the country’s most celebrated athletes and Hollywood forerunners.
Anticipating a morning filled with food, fashion, fun, and fitness, Alyssa Bass, 22, could hardly wait to reach the event site and discover the day’s surprises. “I’m excited to see the venue and most excited to just workout,” she said. “As a dancer, that’s all we really do — I’m ready to sweat!” Olivia Lucci, 19, expressed the same sentiments saying, “I love working out, and I love working out in a group. I think it’ll be fun!”
Although not knowing what to expect, all 50 young women arrived in style — and like VIPs, were surrounded by singers, high-profile film producers, actresses and other talent who they mixed and mingled with over delicious pre-workout snacks and fresh juices. Samsung was on site teaching guests new ways to take a selfie with panoramic features and digital stickers. To make sure their memories lasted forever, photos were streamed on a large flat screen during the event and emailed to guest’s smartphones.
Each attendee belonged to a Hunger Games-like tribe distinguishable by an affirming word printed on a Nike headband that prepared everyone to enter the futuristic exercise arena designed by Todd Tourso (Creative Director for Beyonce). Flashing lights, an electric mix featuring the hottest sounds by MeLo-X and an inspiring voiceover gave rhythm to the workout and provided guidance. A unique bonding experience happened — nothing better could describe the sacred space than an atmosphere of love and mutual support, which was prompted by Davis and her motivational speech that set the workout’s tone.
Olympic track and field World Champion Sanya Richards-Ross also voiced her support of PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT. “I think it’s important. I love the name because I think there’s so many girls who prioritize beauty over a healthy lifestyle, and I think it’s important to have that balance,” she said.
Describing what Pretty Girls Sweat means to her, WNBA powerhouse Skylar Diggins said, “I think it’s like the beauty and the beast mentality.” She then added, “Femininity is so important — I’m always preaching femininity because I feel like in our sport it’s lost. But, the beauty and the beast mentality is you can still have your femininity, you can still get your nails done, you can still get your hair done, you can still care about yourself as a woman. And then on the court, you can be that beast — you can play with that intensity, that passion, that heart, that competitive nature, that drive.”
Not only did the five-stage training session target core muscles through dance and yoga, it also aimed to transform the minds and supercharge the spirits of participants. “Confidence is what’s pretty,” actress Jurnee Smollett-Bell explained. “To encourage girls to get in there and be confident, and sweat, and work your butt off is such an important message.”
Several stressed a need to recognize one’s inner beauty despite societal pressure. “We live in a time right now where girls are under the microscope on every level — in schools, in social media, in the media, everywhere they go,” singer Melanie Fiona said. “Creating a community for girls to belong to something … allows [them] to focus on the work from the inside out.”
All who attended left feeling accomplished, refreshed and determined to live in their purpose. Altogether, settling into the spirit of sisterhood was made enjoyable and easy! “I had a lot of fun and got to meet a lot of my fitness idols [and] inspiration in person. I’m looking forward to attending the next event,” Ryan Douglas, 20, said.
Emphasizing the power of positive thinking, Davis hoped this lesson resonates:
“There’s a mind space that is important to go into when you’re overcoming a challenge,” she said. “Your thoughts become your words; your words become your world.”
photo credit: NIKE / Kelly Rowland, Jeanette Jenkins and PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT Instagram