Grown Woman Strong: Elisabeth Akinwale

 Street view of South Loop Strength and Conditioning.  Photo by Shavonne Holton.

Street view of South Loop Strength and Conditioning.  Photo by Shavonne Holton.

Perceptive, beautiful, and unapologetically strong is how I would describe Elisabeth Akinwale.  If you do not know who she is, you need to open up another window and search her NOW! 

Amazing, right?

When I was introduced to the CrossFit games in 2012, Akinwale incited me!  She was one of the few athletes of color who dominated the sport and, most recently, she has spoken out about the lack of diverse representation in its' marketing.  This resonated with me.  

 Photo of Akinwale during the workshop.  Photo by Shavonne Holton

Photo of Akinwale during the workshop.  Photo by Shavonne Holton

On January 7, 2017, I drove three hours north to Chicago for her exclusive weightlifting workshop.  When Akinwale casually walked through the warm-up room, I felt like a giddy fan.  I imagined rushing towards her to introduce myself and tripping over the equipment.  To minimize the risk of embarrassing myself, I continued stretching as if seeing this elite athlete was an everyday occurrence.      

From the onset, Akinwale was down-to-earth.  She led our group through a series of warm-ups and drills that were unfamiliar to me.  Like a well-respected sensei, she increased our awareness by giving verbal cues to execute each part of the movements.  During one drill, I felt like an impostor when my partner complemented the precision of my form.  Yet I knew that my four years of training were unmatched to Akinwale’s many years of experience.        

After several years of following her and this 90-minute workshop, she has taught me one of greatest lessons about my identity in society: Grown woman strength is about defining life on your own terms.   

 Akinwale and Holton post-workshop.   Follow Elisabeth Akinwale on Instagram  @eakinwale

Akinwale and Holton post-workshop. 

Follow Elisabeth Akinwale on Instagram @eakinwale