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February is Black History Month—a month to celebrate the achievements and contributions of African Americans in society. Inclusivity in wellness has been a topic for much discussion, especially as of late. We are taking this opportunity to continue to shine a light on the gap of inclusivity and diversity in our industry, and take action to promote, empower, and honor the Black community that shapes and grows wellness.
We celebrate the inspirational Black voices in the industry—and right here in our wellness community. “No matter how woke you think you are, we all have biases. So, it’s good to be aware of what our individual biases are, and what we can do about them,” says Sunil Rajasekar, President and CTO of Mindbody. “Driving change is hard, especially at a society-level. It’s going to take the best brains to solve this.”
In recent years, a wave of Black fitness entrepreneurs have stepped in to create a more inclusive landscape within the wellness industry. How can we all make sure we are all putting an effort in to make sure we promote diversity in this space? Well, for starters, we can support their businesses.
Whether you’re ready to try out a calorie-torching HIIT class or find your moment of Zen in a yoga class at the end of a long workday, odds are you’ll be able to find a Black-owned fitness studio that suits you. And while some studios may still be closed or have been forced to limit their in-person classes in response to COVID-19, most fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes so you can stay on top of your fitness goals at home.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of Black-owned fitness studios that should be on your radar:
Align Brooklyn is a boutique wellness studio offering mindful practices including yoga, Pilates, barre, HIIT, chiropractic, and nutrition to increase your functional vitality. Align Brooklyn is owned by a chiropractor, who specializes in sports injury and performance—making them able to provide clients with the highest quality fitness and wellness science available.
Co-founders Paris Alexandra and Alicia Ferguson connected over their shared vision to create a holistic wellness center that celebrates the arts. This Black- and women-owned studio in Dumbo embraces body positivity and creativity within a yoga practice. Online classes are just $12 and feature a handful of different types of yoga classes like Candlelit Flow, Restorative Yoga, and Vinyasa Flow—just to name a few.
Owned by celebrity trainer Kelvin Gary, this studio is focused on functional fitness—the kind that helps you live your life better, faster, stronger, and more efficiently. As functional trainers, they believe that every body is different and cultivate fun and dynamic workouts that emphasize teamwork and cooperation. Classes start at just $18.
By incorporating resistance training mixed with some cardio components, BURN has developed and designed a unique fitness concept unlike any other studio in the Dallas area. Their innovative approach promises to not only challenge your physical abilities but your mental capacity as well. Currently, online and in-person classes are available starting at just $20 for a drop-in.
Offering a unique mix of fat-blasting cycling classes, toning barre classes, and strengthening yoga sculpt classes, CYCLED! Studios located in Washington, DC and Maryland has something for everyone. They are currently offering socially distanced indoor classes (masks required), outdoor cycling rides in Takoma Park, and virtual classes all starting at $25 for a drop-in.
E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness is a premier physical performing arts facility located in the heart of Atlanta. By balancing fitness and creativity, their techniques will inspire you to commit to your overall health and wellness goals. They offer numerous types of fitness classes including bootcamp, interval training, cycling, and personal training sessions. Classes start at $25 a pop.
Free MVMT Shop in Chicago, IL is all about marrying mind, body, and art. They believe that through moving the body with intention, one can attain incredible growth in terms of fitness, health, and happiness. Offering a healthy mix of dance, yoga, kickboxing, and barre virtually, you can mix up your at-home workouts on a daily basis. Virtual classes start at just $11.
Harlem Cycle is Harlem’s first and only boutique indoor cycling studio. The studio focuses on building unique classes that center around the Harlem experience. From their music to studio decor, they strive to make every client feel right at home. And don’t let their name fool you—they are more than just a cycling studio—they also offer full body circuit classes and cardio sculpt to help keep your at-home workouts interesting. Virtual drop-ins start at just $14.
If you’re looking to find your calm amongst all the chaos going on in the world, then consider HealHaus as your one-stop-shop for peace and serenity. Right now, they are offering virtual yoga classes in the styles of Vinyasa and Restorative for $14 per class.
At Harlem-based HIIT studio, JTW Fit, they know that if you are willing to put in the work, they can help you achieve your fitness goals. Their customized programs are designed to motivate and challenge you while expressing the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Are you ready to trust the process and put in the work? Good. Virtual classes start at $10 while outdoor classes are listed at $25 per session.
Magnolia Yoga in New Orleans, LA is a community-based studio that helps you develop and strengthen life skills such as courage, patience, and intuition through yoga. They believe it’s never too late to invest in your health and wellness—which especially rings true during the age of COVID-19. They are currently able to host socially distanced in-person classes, but also have virtual options available starting at $16.
PIES Fitness and Yoga Studio is aware there is no one exercise program that is right for everyone, but they firmly believe there can be one fitness place that is right for “every body.” With a mix of different styles of yoga, Zumba, and belly dancing classes, their virtual schedule is jam-packed with fitness offerings that will keep you in-tune with mind, body, and soul. Virtual classes start at $25.
When Teresa Ellis opened Pilates Barre and Jams, she was keen on creating a space that helped people become stronger in their bodies. Since 2008, her goal has been to make movement available and accessible to the people who have never felt comfortable walking into a status quo studio because of the fear they didn't fit the aesthetic. Her mission is to make sure her clients are always feeling good, feeling strong, and able to do functional movements pain-free. Virtual classes start at $97 for a 4-class pack.
Soho Yoga’s philosophy is that yogis of all levels should be able to experience everything that yoga has to offer. While their public heated and non-heated studio classes are currently on hold, they are currently offering a variety of classes online and outdoors (at the beach, specifically) that fit into any schedule. Outdoor and virtual classes start at $14.
Founded in 2016 by Shanel Anderson, Soul City Yoga is a unique community Yoga studio with locations in Lynn and Malden, MA. Whether you are just beginning your yoga journey or looking for a deeper connection, at Soul City they encourage practitioners of all levels to come flow with them in a safe practice space where diversity is celebrated and representation is valued. Drop-ins start at just $17.
Since 2008, Studio 34 has cultivated a community; it has offered affordable yoga classes, workshops, and art shows for those who seek healing, as well as space for wellness practitioners to provide various forms of therapy. This energetic space respects and honors all bodies–encouraging everyone to breathe and move in their healing-centric studio. Their online yoga and meditation classes are only $6.
The Fit In's mission is to make quality health and wellness accessible to underrepresented communities. They knew there was work to be done which why they set up shop in fitness deserts to provide quality fitness to underserved areas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they pivoted to offer online classes and also host socially distanced outdoor classes at Decatur Playground in Brooklyn, NY to keep their clients safe. Classes start at just $15.
Based in Chicago, this fitness studio is SO much more than just a gym. It’s powered by the people it serves to fuel bodies, feed spirits, and fill souls. Like the reciprocal power of water, The Well restores balance facilitating the flow of healing and wellness into oneself and others. If you’re looking for a studio with a bunch of different types of classes, look no further—they offer cycling, barre, bootcamp, circuit training, and more. Classes start at just $9.99.
Whether you’re a total newbie to the fitness scene or simply just trying to take your workout routine to the next level, consider TrapFit in Raleigh your new home away from home. With a schedule full of bootcamp, boxing, circuit training, and dance classes, we’re certain you’ll find a class that suits your fitness needs. Classes start at just $20 per session.
At TRILLFIT, everyone belongs. They take pride in being Boston's original hip hop workout party and believe that fitness should be fun, inclusive, and set to the illest soundtrack. Ready to squad up and make it TRILL today? Studio memberships (for indoor and outdoor classes) start at $130/month and digital memberships are priced at $40/month.
While this is a great list to get you familiar with many of the Black-owned businesses either in your neighborhood or around the globe, we have only scratched the surface. We'd love to keep this list growing. If you have any businesses you'd like to see on this list, click here to submit a Black-owned business we should be highlighting as well!
Well, here we are—a couple of months into 2021. A year that we all (still) hope will be much better than the last. This past year was nothing short of a dumpster fire—between the pandemic, ongoing racial injustice, and the most dramatic election ever, 2020 was riddled with anxiety, grief, anger, and was just downright exhausting.
Heck—if somebody even dared to ask me how I was doing last year, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and say, “Omg I can’t even.” I mean, what other year can you think of that became its own expression? When something would go horribly awry, we would literally blame it on the year by saying, “2020, am I right?” complete with a sheepish chuckle —and eventually some tears when you realized just how many times you’ve said those words. Seriously, I lost count a long time ago. It was not healthy.
Sorry, tangent—where was I? Ah yes, 2021. The good news is there’s still hope that this year won’t make us want to roll into a tiny little ball on the floor and cry. Well, at least not as much as its predecessor—I’m not a miracle worker, you guys. However, I do have some wellness tips to help you stay just a little bit cooler, calmer, and collected-er this year.
If there’s one thing we learned last year, it’s that wellness is always here for us. Maybe at this time last year, your goal of going to Pilates five days a week came to a screeching halt as fitness studios were required to shut down to protect the community. For a time, we were all frazzled because our usual workouts and wellness routines were turned upside practically overnight. I think I speak for us all when I say that our favorite fitness class, and the community that comes with it, plays a huge role in our overall happiness. The good news is the wellness industry has come a long way in just under a year.
While it is true that some areas still aren’t allowing the in-studio experience for their workout classes due to the pandemic, we have more options to practice wellness safely than ever before. Right now, some studios are allowed to operate with in-person, socially distanced classes—and pretty much every studio broke into the virtual space to provide fitness classes you could participate in from the comfort of your own home. Not to mention, at-home virtual options are typically cheaper and allow you to try our studios from all over the country. With online gym memberships like Mindbody Flex, you can have access to thousands of live stream classes at your fingertips for less than $5 per class.
Look, 2020 was scary. After a year like that, it’s can be hard to tap into a positive mindset. But it’s more important now than ever before to let go of assumptions and focus on the good that 2021 can bring. This shift to acceptance will ultimately help you put your best foot forward in any situation that arises.
Take a step back and try to focus on the things we can be grateful for in this moment. Like what? Well, for starters more and more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, which means things are slowly, but surely, getting back to normal. I, for one, am grateful that my at-risk family members have already received their first rounds of vaccinations and are on the path of staying healthy since they are protected from the coronavirus.
The best thing we can do right now for our mental health is to learn to give ourselves some grace through practicing self-care. And this can look different for everyone. Maybe your version of self-care comes in the form of daily journaling, getting a workout session in, curling up with a good book, or having that glass of wine while taking a bubble bath. Whatever makes YOU feel good—keep doing it.
To keep my mental health in check, something that I’ve started incorporating into my daily self-care routine is practicing mindfulness. Some days that means I focus on my breathwork practice—other days I may scroll through the Mindbody app to find a virtual meditation class or Yoga Nidra class. I’ve also embraced the motto there’s an app for that. Right now, I’m really loving the Headway app because it helps me set daily intentions from the moment I wake up with a morning survey and then checks in with me at the end of the day with an evening survey. Having the ability to write down my goals and hold myself accountable for them has really taken my self-care routine to the next level.
Some days we fall a little short of our goals—and guess what? THAT’S OKAY. Honestly, I think we should all just focus on being okay for the rest of the year. The past year caused us to be tough on ourselves and I encourage you to make this year kinder. Any new goals you set that involve changing habits or overhauling your lifestyle will likely have some setbacks. So, when that happens, remember to be compassionate with yourself.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from this blog post is to let go of the illusion that perfection is always the end goal. When in doubt I always remind myself of something my favorite spin instructor (hey Steph!) says: “If you look for perfection, you'll never be content. Just focus on your growth.” Allow that to sink in and make it a goal to remind yourself of this every single day.
And remember: You don’t have to—and really shouldn’t—give up hope that things will get better this year, even if you feel overwhelmed now. Having a positive mindset is never a silly thing. In fact, it is actually quite admirable; you’re an admirable badass.