The Legacy Workout: A fitness regimen that honors Black History

New York trainer Andia Winslow's new video pays tribute to influential African Americans with exercise moves named after them. Here's why.
Shirleys, AKA Windmill Push-Ups named for Shirley Chisolm and Shirley Jackson. (Photo: Andia Winslow)
Shirleys (AKA Windmill Push-Ups), named for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm and nuclear physicist Shirley Ann Jackson. (Photo: Andia Winslow)


When Andia Winslow was a little girl, her grandfather, a Tuskegee Airman who was later awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, taught her a workout move that mimicked the motion of a plane. “I was very inspired by my grandfather,” says Winslow, a popular trainer and class instructor at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers. “He was highly educated and decorated and very into being healthy.”

This month, Winslow channeled that inspiration to create The Legacy Workout, a series of exercise moves named for influential African Americans who changed the course of Black History, which she demonstrates in a beautifully produced video that resembles an artistic film more than a workout sequence.

Andia Winslow (Photo: Andia Winslow)
Andia Winslow (Photo: Andia Winslow)

Tuskegee Fly Sit-Ups appropriately kick off the workout, followed by moves like Squat Jumps that celebrate Mae Jemison, the first African American female astronaut to take off into space, and shoulder-strengthening Lateral Raises named for Thurgood Marshall, who, as the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, during the Civil Rights era, had a lot of weight to bear, there.

But what does fitness really have to do with honoring Black History? And do Lateral Hip Abductions named for Jackie Robinson really pay tribute, or do they trivialize his struggles and accomplishments?

“I’m inspired by these people, and I’m honoring them,” Winslow says. “I think the big thing is that we are always trying to get people to understand that being active is a wonderful gift to yourself, and these things can inspire you to move in ways that aren’t traditional.”

And The Legacy Workout showcases the power of the human body in motion, of the physical and mental strength required to change history. This is apparent in the Audre Lorde quote that opens the video: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Plus, a key part of The Legacy Workout is education, Winslow says, and the video includes information and links for each historical figure featured. “It’s important to learn from the past so we don’t re-create the mistakes of the past,” she says. —Lisa Elaine Held

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