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Dance Captain Coco Gilbert Shares 5 Workouts Perfect For The Absolute Beginner

Coco Gilbert may be true to this, but a lot of us are new to this.

Wellness

These days, you might recognize Coco Gilbert as Teyana Taylor's dance captain, but the dancer, creative director and producer first embarked on her career journey in entertainment when she moved to New York City in her teens. There, she attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where she honed in on her love for storytelling, performance and dance. Her relationship with Teyana Taylor began when she auditioned - and got booked - for her music video, "Maybe," only a year into her studies.

"From there, everything started to spit-ball with Teyana from tours, to movies to music videos to co-owning our production company, The Aunties," Gilbert shared with xoNecole. "But that allowed me to dig into the fitness world a little deeper when Teyana launched her dance fitness workout, Fade2Fit, which I had the pleasure of co-choreographing and producing with her."

When it comes to her daily fitness routine, Coco is typically accustomed to going to an actual gym and being in the presence of others, but due to social distancing, she's practicing self-discipline to the max in her own living quarters. She starts her day with yoga and bodyweight exercises with the help of Fade2Fit to start the day off strong. #ShamelessPlug, am I right?

Something else Coco knows is that every beginner has to start somewhere, so her key recommendation to easing your way into fitness during your downtime at home is to start by doing something, including eating correctly and setting small fitness goals for yourself. She also advised about the expectations of our bodies' adjustment to working out. "You should expect your body to some days feel stronger and other days feel tired and weak," Coco explained.

"The best way to push through the pain is to first breathe and focus on the moment. Pain is only temporary. Allow your mental strength to change before your physical strength. Establish discipline so your body will follow. Some days will be harder than others, but if you pay attention to the present, what will come later will also be better."

Check out her advice for absolute beginners and some recommended beginners' workouts at the end for a quick routine!

5 Workouts For Absolute Beginners Recommended by Coco Gilbert

1. Forearm or Full Planks 

Courtesy of Coco Gilbert

Bring yourself into a kneeling position, bending your elbows to a 90-degree angle and pitch forward to place your hands and forearms on the floor shoulder-width apart. When you're ready, extend your legs with your toes tucked under as you press into the plank. Distribute the weight into your hands evenly by spreading your fingers apart, keeping your abs tight and keeping your body in a straight line. Do this exercise for up to one minute or more.

2. Push-ups

Similar to your plank, begin in a kneeling position on a mat with your hands below your shoulders and knees behind your hips, lengthening the back and angling correctly. Leave your knees on the floor (or tuck your toes under after extending your legs), tighten your core and bend your elbows to lower the chest onto the floor. Repeat for desired number of repetitions. This exercise can be modified on the knees to build strength.

3. Hip Raises

Lie on your back on the floor, a mat or a towel with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms out to the sides at a 45-degree angle, squeeze your glutes, brace your core and raise your hips so that your body forms a straight line between the shoulders and the knees. Hold for 30 seconds, release into the body and repeat.

4. Downward Dog

Courtesy of Coco Gilbert

For our yogis out there, or anyone looking to get into yoga, this may or may not be something you're familiar with already. On all fours, hands and knees. Spread the palms wide, stack the shoulders over wrists; knees are hip-distance apart, curl the toes under; then walk the palms just out in front of the shoulders. Be sure the palms are spread flat, no air under palms. Raise your body up and then back into the position by raising the knees off the mat while shifting the stomach toward the thighs. As the legs straighten, lift your hips up higher but be careful not to lock the legs to avoid injury. Lastly, hold and breathe. Start by doing this for 30-second intervals.

5. Wall Sit

Courtesy of Coco Gilbert

This only requires your body and the wall - both of which are free of charge and found in your own home. There should be two right angles formed at the body - your hips and knees. Place your back against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and a small distance out from the wall; approximately two feet should do the trick. Feel it in your quadriceps yet? Make sure to engage your abdominal muscles and slowly slide your back down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the ground. If you want extra credit, try doing this position for one minute and work your way up as you build strength.

For more of Coco, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image courtesy of Coco Gilbert

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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