Two days ago I made an Instagram post in which I stated, “I’m calling 2018 the year of intersectional fitness. I’m excited to bring more diversity and inclusion to the industry because it’s so important and necessary.
I don’t personally believe we can talk about fitness or empowerment without discussing race, politics, access, inclusivity, representation, and even more, who gets a seat at the table— who gets to be fit, who gets to be represented in fitness, and who gets the opportunities.
True empowerment is about showing up for other women in a way that in genuine, true, and authentic, even if we have vastly different experiences in the world.”
”I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
– Audre Lorde
I went on to say that I wasn’t really sure how I planned to do that yet, but it was going to work towards making fitness more diverse and inclusive in 2018. I was thrilled to see lots of comments and DMs from people (mainly women) saying that were all in.
I still don’t know exactly how I plan to accomplish this, but one day later, I’m even more convinced of how important the message of intersectional fitness is.
I’m channeling my inner Luvvie Ajayi today. If you are not familiar with Luvvie, do yourself a favor and check her out here and here. Luvvie frequently says she’s the person who says what a lot of people are thinking but don’t want to say. She just feels like she has to speak her truth (even when it might be unpopular or have the potential for backlash) because somebody has to say it.
I’m fairly certain that Luvvie would write this article if she was in my shoes. I mean, I didn’t talk to her or anything, but I still feel pretty certain.
An article entitled, “Top 40 Fitness Pros to Follow in 2018,” was circulating Facebook yesterday, and of course, I clicked because I was curious to see who was on the list. I recognized a lot of the fitness professionals on the list, and no doubt, everyone on the list is talented and well-deserving.
Do you remember a couple of years ago, when the hastag #OscarsSoWhite was trending on Twitter to bring light to the lack of diversity, inclusion, and representation in Hollywood? Well I do, and in total transparency, the first thing that came to mind after reading the list of 40 fitness professional to follow in 2018 was #FitnessSoWhite.
I proceeded to laugh hysterically at this because I find myself really funny sometimes. But I mean, can you blame me? The article is shockingly white and in some moments, humor really is the best medicine.
The second thing I noticed was that of all 40 individuals we should watch in 2018, there is apparently only 3 women in fitness doing anything noteworthy. Interesting. There are no women of color on the list at all. Women of color are doing NOTHING noteworthy in the fitness industry. Not even one.
Right off the top of my head I can think of a couple of women who should have been included on this list. MegSquats and Sohee Lee are both doing huge things in fitness. I could name a lot more but those two were no-brainers, IMO. Like it took me all of10 seconds to think of them as fitness professionals to watch in 2018. I mean I’m pretty sure MegSquats just won the 2017 Bodybuilding.com spokesmodel search.
Bottom line is that the article was disappointing in my opinion. However, the beauty of it being my opinion is that you are free to disagree with me.
Let me point out that I do not know the author of this article. Please don’t send him hate mail or say means things on the internet. That’s not cool at all. To be honest, I’m sure he was tailoring his list to his audience. I get that. And while I don’t think the author had any bad intentions, it’s really problematic because it’s a really poor representation of the health and fitness industry. It’s lacking diversity and perpetuates the idea that fitness is a good ole’ (white) boys club.
Ouch. Remember the part above where I said that I say things other people are thinking but just don’t want to say? That was it. I just said it.
While the list circulating yesterday isn’t my favorite, anyone is entitled to make a list of this nature, and everyone is entitled to their own opinions. In that spirit, I’m providing you with a list of fitness professionals, who are not only doing great things in fitness, but also share my own values of bringing more diversity and inclusion to the industry.
Here they are (in no particular order):
- Steph Iron Lioness
- Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake
- Elisabeth Akinwale
- Jen Sinkler
- Chocolate Bar Podcast
- Jen Comas
- Girls Gone Strong
- Women’s Strength Coalition
- Shannon Wagner
- Sonja Price Herbert
- Molly Galbraith
- Neghar Fonooni
- Dave Dellanave
- John Romaniello
- Kara Stewart-Agostino
- Steph Gaudreau
- Rachel Black Graves
- Masiel Encarnacion
- Janae Marie
- Ivy Knight
- Jack X Taylor
- Jessie Mundell
- Julie Gohring
- Chrissy King (yep, that’s me!)
This list is by no means all-inclusive. In fact, I’m certain I’m missing a lot of really important people. Please free to reach out and let me know who I should be adding to this list.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll likely keep saying it. The fitness industry has a diversity problem. While the industry is male dominated, as demonstrated by the author of the aforementioned article, there are a plethora of women and POC doing great things in the industry. You may have to broaden your horizon and expand your circle, but you can find these individuals if you want.
This year has all the potential to be the year of intersectional fitness— to increase diversity, inclusion, and representation— if everyone chooses to do better. I’m challenging all of us to do better. Keep the hashtag, #FitnessSoWhite in the back of your mind and if you find yourself about to publish something shockingly white or if there are so many bros included on your list that it could easily be mistaken for your college fraternity, take a step back and reevaluate.
Please don’t let me have to make #FitnessSoWhite a trending hashtag on Twitter. I believe that collectively we can change the face of the fitness industry. Are you with me?
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