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Copyright 2018 The Washington Times
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The Washington Times


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. The special workout sessions aimed to raise awareness of and donations for research to combat 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 her by having a series of charity events," Mr. Price said.

The D.C. area often ranks high in national surveys on health and fitness. Last year, the city came in at No. 2 in the American Fitness Index compiled by the American College of Sports Medicine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the capital city has the second lowest obesity rates among the 50 states.

But in Wards 5, 7 and 8 communities with some of the lowest incomes in the city and highest rates of chronic disease and minority population obesity rates are much higher than the national average, according to a 2014 report by the D.C. Department of Health.

"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."

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April 4, 2018


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