Starting is the Hard Part
Shemika, far right, at an Ella Baker Center event
It just hit me that we have three weeks left until Team Ella Baker Center hits the ground running at the Oakland Running Festival on March 25th! Every one of our staff members is participating in some way this year, either by running or walking, setting up a Virtual Participant donation page, or peopling the water station. I’m thrilled by the fitness- and health- conscious community we have here, and very happy to share an interview with Ella Baker Center staffer Shemika Skipworth.
Shemika is very new to exercise, and as you’ll read, is enthusiastic about reaping the benefits of her newfound fitness focus. As our Finance and Administrative Director, balance is essential for Shemika, and she’s happy to be finding this—among other benefits—by prioritizing personal health and wellness.
1. Why did you decide to run the 5k last year? Why did you decide to run it this year?
Two years ago, when Ella Baker Center first participated in the Oakland Running Festival, Meredith and I saw how much fun everyone was having, so we decided we would run the following year (which was2011). This year I’m running to see if I can beat my time, and see how my working out will help me in accomplishing this.
2. How would you define health? How would you define fitness?
Until recently I wouldn't have had a personal definition of either. Three months ago, I decided to go on a weight gain fitness challenge. I am learning how health directly impacts your everyday life. Since starting the health and fitness challenge, I've felt like I'm living a more full lifestyle, I'm more energetic, sleeping better, and more focused. And I just overall feel GOOD!
3. How would you describe your lifelong relationship to exercise?
Excer.....what life long.........what?? Exercise has not been part of my life since I was a song girl in High School. I was re-introduced to it last year when I decided to run a 5K. Because I've been small all of my life, I've never thought about exercise—not even for the health impact of it.
4. What was it like being a song girl?
I loved being a song girl. It was like being a cheerleader, except we got to dance during halftime. It had nothing to do with fitness, just being popular, and of course meeting the basketball, and football team (wink wink)…but it involved a lot of practice so there was some exercise involved. That was the extent of the “fitness” aspect.
5. You mentioned that since taking the health and fitness challenge, you have changed the way you think about health. What is "healthy" to you now?
Just seeing the difference in how I feel daily has changed, I really see the benefits of taking care of my health. My family is pretty overweight, and I have lost a lot of family members to heart attack and high blood pressure. Health has just not been a priority in our family. So, I’m hoping that seeing my new passion for fitness and exercise will inspire them, at least my mother.
6. What or whom is your motivation for staying healthy?
I guess I would have to say my cousin. He started working out and lost so much weight, and just looks healthier. So, after turning 35 and realizing some new body aches, I decided to jump in feet first, and I haven't turned back. Just the compliments I get from others on my arms, or my little derriere I'm working on is motivation for me.
7. What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of your fitness plan? How do you approach the more challenging aspects of being fit?
My favorite part of fitness is my personal trainer. He is funny and motivational with out the yelling and disrespect that is popular with some other trainers. I like it when people notice a difference in me. My least favorite part is the actual working out: that saying, "No pain, no gain" is no joke!
8. When you are feeling the "pain" of a workout, what do you tell yourself in order to make it through? Also, can you describe your favorite exercise?
When I’m in pain, I just tell myself: its only an hour, I can do it, and that the results will be worth it. My favorite exercise is called "Wake that Ass Up." It's a series of exercises that work out the glutes to help get you a fantastic butt!
9. What advice do you have for people who are just starting to pay attention to their health?
Paying attention to your health is so important, but deciding to do something about it is even better. Starting is the hard part, but once you get going and start feeling and seeing the difference in your life, you will never turn back again. You will try to recruit everyone you know to do it.
10. Can you share the name of your trainer or his company so that others might be able to find him?
His name is Andre Ammons, he works out of the Max Muscle at Lake Merritt.
There is still time to sign up with Team Ella Baker Center and run a 5K with Shemika!