Is it Really "All Good" in the Fitness Industry?
Have you ever found a fitness studio that was created just for you, had all the things you love, provided a cool experience, yet you still felt out of place?
Being in spaces where there are no teachers of color, no representation in marketing campaigns, or hardly anyone that looks like you in the class, can be really isolating at times. It’s can also hard to convince friends to join you because they feel “that space is not for us.”
We know firsthand there are a lot of people of color who are rocking their fitness, inside and outside of the studio. They are our friends. Or, we follow them on Instagram. Or, we're cheering them on when we do see them shine. That is what encouraged us to start Fit with Finesse.
Let Me See You Do That Yoga
Yoga is a practice that we’ve come to appreciate over time. We often take classes out of the necessity of giving our bodies a break. A growing trend in the yoga space is creating the ultimate experience to enhance your practice. We've done aqua yoga, aerial yoga, and yoga at sunrise with a full on rave that followed the 5:00 a.m. session.
So, when we heard there was a studio that based their entire practice around hip-hop music, we were excited. Going through a downward dog, crow pose and warrior two to the sounds of our favorite artists sounded like a win-win situation (okurrt). But, after a few visits to the studio, we noticed there was no one else that looked like us. While we were used to being one of just a few women of color in these spaces, this felt more uncomfortable than usual. At times, the front desk staff seemed genuinely surprised to see us there. Unfortunately, This is not the first time this has happened.
On the flip side of this scenario, there was a rooftop yoga event that oversaw the cityscape of downtown Los Angeles (we told y'all...lots of yoga). On the way up, we ran into other groups of black women who were friends, headed to try out the class as well. In fact, there was a beautiful mix of people of all shades and sizes. As class ended and we happened to ride down the elevator with that same group of women, the energy was electric. Between the questions of “what’d you think of the class,” “I love your hair,” and “where did you get your tights” was excitement and genuine joy. The difference? We felt comfortable, welcome, empowered to believe that we could.
That’s why diversity and inclusion is so important to us and our mission. Let's be clear, while we used two yoga examples, there are many other examples spanning various types of fitness classes we've tried. Diversity and inclusion is about creating spaces that are open and welcoming so that everyone feels that they can be a part of something. Diversity is seeing a mix of all people, those who look like you and those who don’t, those who practice the same beliefs as you and those who don’t. Inclusion is everyone feeling comfortable and welcome, feeling that they can bring their whole self to the forefront and shine.
Oh, you thought we were finished?
There is so much more we want to say about this topic. From more examples of when diversity is done right and when it isn’t to the importance of representation from brands, we’ll be talking about it all this month.
Check in to Instagram as we highlight great examples of diversity, inclusion, and representation done right and why it matters. We’ll also be checking in with some of our faves in the industry to share their perspective on diversity and inclusion in the industry.