How do we measure success? Is it the number of medals won, records broken or titles fought for and and defended? Perhaps it’s being the first to break specific ground as an athlete or champion?
Well, for these Black female athletes, it’s a combination of all that and more.
As we continue to celebrate Black History Month 2023, we’re amplifying the ground-breaking, history-making achievements of these legendary women.
1. SERENA WILLIAMS
With 23 Grand Slam titles and a staggering 319 weeks as the world’s best, Williams really needs no introduction.
Competing with her sister, Venus, the dynamic duo picked up three gold doubles medals in consecutive Olympics, starting in 2000 in Sydney. In addition, Williams currently holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, combined, and in 2012, she won her first Olympic singles medal. It’s no wonder Williams is often referred to as the GOAT of tennis.
2. SIMONE BILES
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Biles became the most decorated American gymnast - male or female - of all time. For those keeping count, Biles has four Olympic gold medals, one silver and two bronze. Since then, she’s continued to crush it on and off the mat. In 2018, she became the most decorated gymnast in world championship history - with 15 titles under her belt!
What else? Biles is a seven-time US National all-around champion and has four moves named after her that are officially recognised by the governing body of gymnastics. Pretty impressive if you ask us.
3. ALTHEA GIBSON
Gibson picked up tennis as a teenager, and a year after she started, she won the American Tennis Associations (ATA) local tournament. For 10 consecutive years, she won the ATA’s championship, which was unheard of.
It took a while for Gibson to play at world championship level, due to segregation, and it wasn't until former tennis player, Alice Marble argued her case that she was invited to the US National Championships.
In 1951, Gibson was the first Black tennis player to get invited to Wimbledon, and in 1956, she became the first Black tennis player to ever win a Grand Slam at the French Open.
4. ALICE COACHMAN
Coachman reached new heights - literally and figuratively - at the 1948 London Olympic Games, when she became the first Black woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field event. Her winning jump clocked in 1.68m, and her medal was presented by King George VI.
Just four years later, Coachman was signed by Coca-Cola, making her the first Black female athlete to endorse a consumer product.
5. LAILA ALI
As the daughter of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, Ali grew up with some pretty big gloves to fill.
Originally a manicurist, Ali swapped her salon for the boxing ring, and went on to become the first woman to headline a pay-per-view boxing event, where she faced another boxing legacy, Jacqui Frazier-Lyde.
Retiring undefeated in 2007, Ali held the IBA, IWBF, WBC and WIBA female super-middleweight titles, as well as one light heavyweight title.
6. WILMA RUDOLPH
If there’s an achievement Rudolph didn’t accomplish, we’re not aware of it. Diagnosed with double-pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio at age four, doctors told her she would never walk again - but she did.
At the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rudolph became the first ever American woman to sweep three gold medals at a single Olympic Games, and was coined ‘The Tornado, the fastest woman on earth’. When the track-and-field star returned to her hometown of Clarksville, the city planned a parade for her, but it was segregated. Rudolph refused to participate unless it was integrated, and the town listened.
When asked to give advice to young athletes, Rudolph said: “I remind them the triumph can’t be had without the struggle.”
7. SHERYL SWOOPES
The first player to be signed to the US WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association), Swoopes picked up - or should we say swooped? - three Olympic gold medals, as well as an NCAA Championship and four WNBA titles over the course of her career.
In 2017, Swoopes was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame, which only adds to her numerous other accolades, including three-time WNBA MVP.
8. NICOLA ADAMS, OBE
A British national treasure, Adams shot to fame as the first female boxer to become an Olympic Champion in 2012. After that, Adams doubled down, winning a second gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics. At one point, she was reigning Olympic, World and European Games champion at flyweight. Now that’s what you call a knockout career.
Retiring with an undefeated record, Adams won the Sports Personality Award at the British LGBT Awards in 2019, two years after being appointed an OBE for services to boxing.
9. MAGGIE ALPHONSI MBE
An English former rugby union player, Alphonsi holds a multitude of history-making accolades. Representing her country an impressive 74 times, helping England win a record-breaking seven consecutive Six Nations titles and a sixth Grand Slam in seven years, Alphonsi was also a crucial member of the team that won the 2014 Rugby World Cup for the first time in 20 years.
10. FLORENCE GRIFFITH-JOYNER
Nicknamed ‘Flo-Jo’ by the press, Florence Griffith-Joyner is the fastest woman of all time. Her 1988 Olympic 100 metre and 200 metre records obliterated previous times (10.49 and 21.34 seconds respectively), and currently still stand as the fastest times for both events.
With three Olympic golds, two silver medals, one gold World Championship medal and one silver to her name, Flo-Jo was appointed co-chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, where she went on to establish her own foundation for children in need. Two years later, in 1995, Joyner was honoured with an induction into the Track and Field Hall of Fame.
11. KHADIJAH MELLAH
The first hijab-wearing jockey to compete in a British horse race, Mellah won the Magnolia Cup in August 2019. Beating 25:1 odds to win on her mount Haverland, she rode to victory at the same time as studying for her A-Levels. In November 2019, Mellah won the Times Young Sportswoman of the Year award.
Originally from Peckham, London, the then 19-year-old was introduced to riding after her mother saw an advertising leaflet in their local mosque.
Inspired by her incredible achievements, the Riding A Dream Academy offers the Khadijah Mellah Scholarship for young riders from diverse backgrounds and under-represented or disadvantaged communities.
12. SHELLY-ANN FRASER-PRYCE, OD
Eight-time Olympic medallist, Fraser-Pryce is the first Caribbean woman to win gold in the 100 metre and one of only three women ever to defend a standing Olympic 100m title. Competing in the 100 and 200 metres events, Fraser-Pryce is also the only sprinter in history (of any gender) to win five World Championship 100 metre titles, as well as being the winner of more global titles than any other female sprinter ever.
These are by no means the only inspirational Black women who have made history in sports, but they are some of the standout athletes who have made significant strides and set examples for athletes to come.
Your 5-Minute Mental Health Check Up
Hey there! How are you feeling?
That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough.
It’s quite normal for us to schedule an appointment with the dentist or doctor to check our oral and physical health, so why is it less common to check on our mental health?
So many factors are closely related to our mental health, which is why it’s important to address the small changes and approaches we can take to prioritise and care for our mental wellbeing.
That’s why, for Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve created a quick and easy five-minute mental health check you can do every day, anywhere.
WHAT IS MENTAL HEALTH?
Mental health is how you feel in your mind and your mood. Just like your physical health, it depends on many factors, including your genetics, your environment, your circumstances, what you do to maintain it, and underlying physical or mental health conditions you may suffer from, and how they are treated.
This Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from Monday 15th May to Sunday 21st May, addresses anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion we all experience, but sometimes it can get out of control and cause issues for our mental health.
In a survey of 3,000 adults, 34% said they experienced anxiety.
HOW TO LOOK AFTER YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Here are just a few things you can ask yourself or do to ensure you’re doing what you can to protect your emotional wellness.
HAVE I DRANK ENOUGH WATER?
Keeping hydrated is key for both your physical and mental health. When you don’t drink enough water and start to become dehydrated, your body triggers warning signals that you’re in a ‘life-threatening’ situation and starts kicking up stress hormones, particularly cortisol. An increase in cortisol is connected to anxiety, depression and mood disorders.
Carry a bottle of water with you to keep your hydration levels topped up. If you’re someone who likes more structure, you can use alarms or trackers to remind you that drinking water is part of your self-care.
HAVE I EATEN THE RIGHT FOODS TO FUEL MY BODY?
Diet and lifestyle can have a profound effect on our mood and research reveals there’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.
There are plenty of foods and nutrients that can put a smile on your face and make you feel awesome. When we’re stressed, it’s tempting to reach for comfort foods like pizza and sugary snacks that give us a temporary ‘high’. However, these foods can soon leave you feeling exhausted, jittery or sluggish.
Food high in fibre, as well as fruit, veg, nuts and seeds are more beneficial to your mental health. Discover our very own nutritious mood-boosting recipes here.
DID I GET ENOUGH SLEEP?
Anyone who has struggled with sleep will know what a difference it makes to our bodies, minds and ability to function.
For many people, sleep is often the first thing that suffers when they’re struggling with their mental health. The CDC recommends adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a day.
If you’re struggling with your sleep, there are a few simple changes you can make, including:
- Establish a bedtime routine;
- Avoid tech and caffeine before you go to sleep;
- Practice meditation/relaxation.
READ MORE: How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Humans are hardwired to need time in nature, as we evolved to prefer environments where we had fresh water, sunlight, and nature because those provided us with the resources we needed to survive. But, nowadays, nature doesn’t just allow us to survive, it helps us to thrive.
Spending even small bursts of time outdoors can greatly benefit your mental wellbeing. A 2019 study found that spending just 20 minutes outside significantly lowered stress hormone levels.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Okay, so this one is our thing for sure. Keeping active has so many benefits, mentally and physically - from lifting weights to flowing yoga.
Regular movement throughout the day can boost your mood, reduce stress and refocus your mind.
Partner some fresh air with your movement to elevate the benefits - and kill two birds with one stone.
Explore our guided workouts and fitness tips here.
REACH OUT TO FRIENDS
Human connections actually boost feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain. The key is not how many friends you have, but to surround yourself with those whom you can be your most authentic self.
Be honest with yourself about how much time you need to spend with your friends to feel fulfilled, refreshed and empowered, and then make it happen - even if it’s just a catch-up dinner once a month, it makes a difference.
Meeting new people can be equally beneficial to your mental wellbeing, as studies have shown that connecting with strangers can help us feel happier and more connected with our communities.
WHAT AM I DOING TODAY THAT I CAN LOOK FORWARD TO?
Planning things to look forward to or that you enjoy doing can help us cope with difficult situations by increasing our sense of hope.
Whether it’s something as small as binge-watching your favourite TV series or something more extravagant like a weekend away with friends, factoring in time to do what you love will help you adopt a more positive outlook each day.
A huge part of prioritising your mental wellbeing is learning to understand and manage your feelings.
When we’re upset, we don’t always know why we’re feeling that way. It often helps to acknowledge our feelings without any judgement or telling ourselves we’re ‘weak’ for feeling the way we do.
We all have good days and bad days, and that’s okay. However, by asking ourselves the questions in this article and adopting these simple habits, we can work toward feeling like our best selves once again. Remember, rest is a basic human need.
Inside The New AYBL HQ
A world-class team deserves a world-class home - and after months of hard work, dedication and long days, the time has finally come.
Introducing the new AYBL HQ.
Measuring an impressive 56,000 sq feet, our global home is a place like no other. Featuring modern design throughout and a wealth of creative working spaces, our office is a place where people come to innovate and be their best.
Want to discover more? Join us as we step foot inside our creative hub.
Building on our high standards, our office is a hub of creativity and collaboration. From top to bottom, the stylistic space is kitted out with all the necessary tools and resources to optimise productivity and inspire our talented teams to push boundaries.
Its ultra modern design allows for plenty of natural light, open spaces and greenery to accommodate different work styles and preferences.
As a community-first brand, we wanted to create an environment that would not only enhance creativity and productivity, but a better sense of community and belonging for our people.
1. THOUGHTFUL DESIGN
Designed to maximise natural light, flow and functionality, our new home offers a modern and sleek look that reflects our brand and values.
2. COMFORT THROUGH & THROUGH
On every level, the office is equipped with comfortable furniture, ergonomic workstations and state-of-the-art equipment. There are also spaces for relaxation, where you can unwind, recharge and take time for you.
4. CUTTING-EDGE TECHNOLOGY
When you’re the UK’s fastest-growing company, you need technology that can keep up and deliver. From video conferencing tools and virtual whiteboards to our very own photo studio equipped with high-class cameras, our new HQ is home to the latest technology to support collaboration, communication and productivity.
This place truly has everything. That goes for hot water taps on every floor, too. Brew anyone?
Influential, inspirational and innovative. We had to make sure our team had the space to thrive and build the best ideas.
Designed to accommodate different working styles, our office offers a range of spaces for focused work, collaborative work and socialising, as well as options for remote work and flexible schedules.
AYBL is on an ever-evolving journey to ensure the brand promotes and supports sustainability wherever possible.
With that in mind, we have incorporated a range of eco-friendly features into our office design, including energy-efficient lighting and appliances and recycling programmes.
We understand that there is still plenty of work to be done, but right now, it’s about progress not perfection.
We’re incredibly proud to be working in such an amazing office space that not only supports us to be the best in our field, but supports our health, happiness and the environment. Here, we can work together to pave the way for the boldest and bravest ideas whilst feeling like we’re part of something special.
This is truly where the magic will happen.
How To Start Running
The hardest part of running? Getting out the door.
Running is a great way to get fit and feel better, but sometimes, a lack of motivation - or even know-how - can catch you short.
Starting a new running habit needn’t be difficult - all you need is a good pair of running shoes and the willingness to move a little or a lot, all at your own pace.
To help put you one stride ahead, we’ve pulled together the very best running tips for beginners, so you can get off to a safe start and enjoy hitting the tarmac (or treadmill).
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OUR BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO RUNNING
THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING
If enjoyment alone isn’t enough to get you increasing your stride, perhaps the proven health benefits of running will?
Running is one of the most effective ways to increase daily activity, cardiovascular fitness and mental health. It also is widely accessible, as you don’t need any fancy equipment, it’s relatively inexpensive and you can do it just about anywhere.
Here are some of the other key health benefits of running:
- Promotes muscle development;
- Can help aid weight loss;
- Helps to relieve stress levels;
- Boosts the release of endorphins, sometimes called a ‘runner’s high’;
- Increases bone strength and joint health;
- Promotes better sleep;
- Increases lung capacity, metabolism and energy levels;
- Reduces cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease.
Whether you’re new to running or getting back to it after a long break, it’s really important to ease yourself in and gradually build up to avoid injury. Here are some top tips to get your started on the right foot.
Now, we’re not saying you need to go out and buy a wardrobe full of expensive new running kit, but what we are saying is that staying equipped for the environment and surface you’ll be running on is non-negotiable.
Start by investing in a suitable pair of running shoes that fit comfortably and offer extra support, cushioning and grip for your runs.
When it comes to the clothing, well, that’s where we step in. Fusing form and functionality, our Pace Collection is designed for practicality - with soft, lightweight and breathable details - so you can run with ease and without distraction.
Take measured steps to keep your body safe and free from injury. Warming-up is an essential part of any workout, especially running. We recommend walking or doing an easy jog for five to 10 minutes before increasing your intensity. You may also benefit from warm-up exercises, such as dynamic stretches.
Be mindful of other safety advice, such as running against the flow of traffic and carrying your mobile with you at all times.
Nothing can get you lost in the moment quite like blasting your beats as you pound the pavement.
We all have our own taste in music, which makes it all the more important to pick a playlist that’ll motivate you to power through, even when times get tough, with the wind against you and the heavens pouring.
If you need a little inspo, we’ve got plenty of tracks to keep you moving. Check out our Spotify here.
OUR TOP SIX RUNNING TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Now that we’ve established the basics, you’re probably wondering exactly how to start running?
If you’re totally new to running, chances are your motivation levels are pretty high. That being said, it’s as important as ever to pace yourself. This includes your running speed, intensity and training frequency.
Don’t be afraid to start off with a few fast paced walks each week to build up confidence, condition your muscles and create a positive habit you can stick to. Pacing yourself will allow you to continue progressing and reduce your risk of injury.
The likelihood of strains, repetitive stress and foot pain tends to be greater during your first few weeks of running as a beginner, or if you’re returning to running after a long break.
The Run-Walk Method is a great way for new runners to get started, helping to build endurance with less joint stress and is a manageable intensity level.
The method combines running with intervals of walking. Start by alternating one minute intervals of running with one minute of walking, and then gradually try to increase the time spent running. As you become more comfortable, reduce the time spent walking.
Check out our beginner’s running plan further down this page.
Never underestimate the power of rest.
It’s completely natural for your muscles to feel a little sorer than usual, but if you’re experiencing genuine pain or discomfort, it’s crucial you allow it time to rest and recover.
If you’re suffering from sore muscles, more likely than not, it’s DOMS - AKA delayed onset muscle soreness. This is the aching or stiffness you experience as a result of intense training, however, this should subside within 48 hours.
Avoiding exercise altogether can actually prolong DOMS, so consider lower intensity exercise, such as walking, mobility and slow jogging to increase blood flow and relieve your muscle fatigue.
Chances are, you already knew this, but if not, you’ll soon learn that eating well and staying hydrated can significantly influence your runs.
You lose water through sweat, whether cold or hot, so you need to drink before, during, and after your runs. You ideally want to drink 120 ml to 180 ml of water every 20 minutes, but pay attention to your thirst level and drink when you feel thirsty. During longer workouts (90 minutes or more), some of your fluid intake should include a sports drink to replace sodium and other minerals (electrolytes).
In terms of nutrition, it’s best to eat something light and high in carbohydrates but low in fat, protein and fibre. Aim to finish eating 90 to 120 minutes before you start running.
If you’re running for longer than 90 minutes, you’ll need to replace some of the energy you’re burning. A general rule of thumb is to consume 100 calories after an hour and another 100 calories every 45 minutes.
It’s easy to neglect other aspects of your fitness and strength when starting your running journey. Balancing your running sessions with other forms of resistance training and exercise will help to build muscular resilience, reducing your risk of injury and boosting performance.
Repeatedly hitting the road without building strength in the gym can not only lead to injury, but a performance plateau too. Be sure to balance out your training with strength-based exercises to work on muscular endurance, speed, power and potential imbalances - all of which will help with your running in the long run.
Running is a natural movement, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve aspects of your running form to improve your experience and efficiency.
First things first, keep your posture upright. Keep your head lifted, your back long and tall and shoulders level but relaxed. Maintain a neutral pelvis and ensure you’re not leaning forward or back at your waist.
Likewise, it’s important to monitor your footstrike - this is the way your foot hits the pavement. You might land on your heel, in the middle of your foot, or on your toes or forefoot. It’s recommended that you should try to land in the middle of your foot, and then roll through to the front of your toes. However, if you’re naturally a toe runner (land on your toes) or heel striker, it may be best not to change your stride.
RUNNING PLAN FOR BEGINNERS
Without a clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, and the steps you need to take to get there, you’re making the challenge much tougher than it needs to be.
That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate running plan for beginners.