Inclusion is defined as: the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of other minority groups. As protests for Black Live Matter (BLM) continue across the world, a poll suggests up to 26 million people have taken part in recent events. This makes it one of the biggest movements in US history. It’s more important than ever to create a culture of inclusion in the fitness industry and your business.
Representation is empowering and needed in the fitness, health and wellness space. Fitness needs to be welcoming and accessible to everyone. It’s time to mainstream diversity and empower your clients. Every person deserves access to the power of movement and exercise; they should feel comfortable using your services. Inclusivity and accessibility have been an issue in the fitness industry for a while, but health and fitness professionals are using their platforms to voice powerful messages. Many fitness influencers in the industry promote fitness inclusivity and support equality. From body inclusivity and racial equality and justice to physical disabilities and female empowerment, let’s take a look at fitness influencers making moves in the industry.
In our blog post titled, Why 2020 is the Year for Accessibility in Fitness, our writer Hamnah, wrote a paragraph that deserves to be repeated here: To implement changes that stick, we need to start thinking intentionally about the environment. People have different needs, and the design and culture of the environment may disempower them. Mainstreaming diversity refers to a society that accepts and provides for everyone, no matter their abilities, race, religion, or gender. It’s a world where people won’t have to ask whether you can accommodate their individual needs in your fitness clubs or classes.
While inclusion can seem complex it begins with a conversation to start understanding the needs of a specific community or group. While social media can sometimes be a negative space there are is also a lot of good on the platform. Influencers are using their platforms to speak up and start meaningful conversation with their audience about hard topics surrounding race, inclusion, body positivity and representation. Here are 10 Influencers Promoting Inclusivity on their social platforms.
Chrissy King is a fitness coach, writer, speaker, and creator of the #BodyLiberationProject. She actively stands up against racial injustice and inequality. She focuses on sharing a message that encourages inclusivity in the fitness industry. Chrissy talks about things like accountability, bias, and creating an inclusive wellness environment. Her piece, Everyday Racism in the Fitness World and Beyond, is a powerful reality check of the subtle, unconscious ways racism in fitness (and elsewhere) happen everyday.
Image from chrissyking.com
Born, Angela Patrice Hill, Andgie is an American mixed martial artist who competes in the strawweight division. Angie is the first black American female UFC fighter. She trains non-stop and is a massive force in the fighting world. Angie began her training in Muay Thai while working at an animation studio before training full-time.
Image from ESPN.com
Jessie is all about body positivity. She teaches dance classes in New York City and on YouTube. She’s also a model and has a major focus on body inclusivity. At the age of 12, Jessie left the dance world when a teacher told her that she needed to lose weight. That didn’t stop her passion. Now, she creates a judgment-free environment to make all her students feel comfortable. Though under normal circumstances, Diaz-Herrera would host live dance classes in NYC. While the COVID-19 restrictions prevent in-person fitness classes, you can join her Body Positive Dance Class through the Zoom format by signing up on her website.
Image from curveswithmoves.com
Midori Dowdie is a health coach, personal trainer and former body builder. She owns the company MADSoleful where she aims to empower clients to re-envision themselves and strive for more. The company aims to help clients transform their lives from the inside out. On her social channels, Dowdie regularly shares self-development advice. She has spoken has out about the Black Lives Matter (BLM) reminding people that we must all continue to do the work and improve and that no one is perfect.
Image from facebook.com/midori.dowdie
Ilya Parker identifies as a “black trans masculine person.” He works as a physical therapist and exercise specialist. As a writer and speaker, he talks about topics like racial and gender equality and justice. Decolonizing Fitness is a social justice platform all about making fitness accessible to every person. It’s operated by trans and queer people of color. Decolonizing Fitness has a number of donation based offerings on their website. If you purchase a Decolonizing Fitness T-Shirt or Ebook, 100% of the sales will be donated to help support Black Trans and Gender Divers folx, currently experiencing homelessness.
Image from decolonizingfitness.com
Kenny’s personal training company, Unrivaled Performance, helps clients increase their fitness through intense training programs and coaching. With a degree in Exercise Science, his journey to a healthy lifestyle began as a legally obese teenager struggling with weight and self-esteem. In addition to his advocacy for health, he uses his social platforms to vocalize racial injustice and holding each other accountable.
Image from unrivaledperformance.org
NoireFitFest is the UK’s first black fitness festival. The festival looks to address the lack of diversity and representation in the fitness industry. Donna is a yogi and intuitive wellness coach, as well as an advocate for body positivity. In a interview with Daze Digital, Noble says, “NoireFitFest can create a safe space to discuss issues that the black community face and attendees can experience the best techniques offered by black fitness and wellbeing professionals to help with stress, mental health, and body image issues. Self-care and well being should be accessible to everyone.” The entire interview can be found on the Daze Digital website.
Image from instagram.com/donnanobleyoga
Clyde is an athlete and ex-soccer pro who played for D.C. United and the New England Revolution. As the owner of Rev’d Cyclin in Boston, Clyde shares empowering messages and fitness content. Simms is vocal on his social media platforms on his views and encourages education and honesty. His Instagram post after the death of George Floyd was an open and vulnerable account of real life his real life experiences.
Image from bostonherald.com
Fly Girl Collective is a community and platform that inspires black and brown women to live their best life through wellness, running, and fitness. The collective started in 2018, and today, Egere-Cooper runs regular runs twice a month. The group created membership seasons where runners train for local races like the Olympic Park 10K, the Big Half of the Conquer Crystal Palace. Egere-Cooper hopes to grow her brand all across London and develop school programs to reach young girls and encourage them to pursue running. She is a writer, runner, and fitness coach and pushes for representation and creating a safe space in the fitness world.
Image from flygirlcollective.co
International meditation and yoga instructor, Faith Hunter, is the founder and CEO of Yoga Embrace, a yoga studio based in Washington DC. She’s also the founder of Spiritually Fly™, a philosophy that celebrates life. Faith often talks about being a person of color in the yoga world and strives to make wellness approachable and accessible for all.
Image from faithhunter.com
Inclusivity in the health, fitness, and wellness world is an ongoing conversation. As fitness instructors, wellness influencers and health experts continue to use their platform and voice to spread the message of empowerment, justice, and equality, we can all work together to make fitness inclusive and accessible. However, it is up to each of us individually to learn as much as possible. No one is absolved or knows it all, and there is always an opportunity to keep learning and growing. If you’re looking to learn more, we have several resources here for you on the Ruoom blog. Check out our post, How 6 Fitness Brands are Showing Up for Racial Justice, Inclusive Resources for Fitness Instructors & Entrepreneurs, and Brands Whose Diversity Campaigns Were on Point this Year.