- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther” has inspired a local fitness instructor to devise a special workout for women — and heart health research.

“What prompted me to do the Wakanda workout — of course, the movie is a worldwide phenomenon right now — but also there are these really fit people in these movies, especially these black women,” said D.C. fitness trainer Victor Price, whose very real regimen is named after the fictional African country ruled by the movie’s hero.

Over the month of March, Mr. Price held three charity fitness classes at Fitness Snob studios in Northeast. They included a yoga class, a shred class (mixing high-intensity aerobics and weightlifting) and culminated in the Wakanda workout, inspired by “Black Panther’s” all-female security force, the proud and fierce Dora Milaje.

Summoning their inner warrior, the women held their battle sticks aloft as they challenged themselves against the clock to hold their position, calm their shaking legs and show strength in the face of adversity. Mr. Price was inspired to create the special workout sessions in support of a friend who’s family was affected by heart disease.

“I thought it would be a great way to bring some level of awareness and use what was within my means to support [my friend] by having a series of charity events,” Mr. Price said.

When it comes to health and fitness, the District balances opposing realities. It ranks high in national surveys for access and participation of physical activity, but then also has communities — such as Wards 5, 7 and 8 — with obesity rates that rival the worst statistics in the country.

“The biggest thing is I want to encourage people to get active,” Mr. Price said.

At the end of March, the small group of women that joined in the Wakanda workout were of all shapes, sizes and races. Mr. Price mixed stability training, weightlifting and cardiovascular exercises among movements that mimicked the actions of warriors in battle.

The emphasis on community in the movie also inspired Mr. Price in how he thinks about the focus of his classes.

“It’s not just the workout but a workout for a good cause and a workout about building a community and being connected and having a bigger purpose and higher purpose for yourself,” he said.

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. and the No. 1 cause of death for women, disproportionately affecting black and white women. Signs and symptoms are often ignored or misdiagnosed, with fatal results.

Likewise, there is an increased risk for stroke — a clot cutting off blood to the brain — that goes along with some of the warning signs for heart disease.

For women, risk factors increase around the age of 65, a decade later than when men are more likely to show signs and symptoms of these health issues. This is in large part due to the drop off of estrogen in women after menopause.

“We’re not surprised when a 50-year-old man has a heart attack, that’s something that the public are well educated on,” said Dr. George Welch, a specialist at Manhattan Cardiology. “But when a 50-year-old woman goes to the ER with chest pain — because of that 10-year lag — both the treating physician and the patient are less suspicious that it might be a heart-related issue.”

Women also experience heart disease different than men which, according to a study published in February, can cause patients and physicians to miss key warning signs that a woman is in distress.

“While the majority of patients said they complained of chest pains, women were more likely to report at least three or more additional symptoms, such as esophageal discomfort, heart palpitations, and pain in the jaw, neck, arms or between the shoulder blades,” researchers from the Yale School of Public Health wrote in the journal Circulation. “Women were also more likely to attribute their symptoms to stress or anxiety, but less likely attribute their symptoms to muscle pain.”

• Laura Kelly can be reached at lkelly@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide