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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!
For the first time ever, the globe will be watching surfing take center stage at the 2020 (postponed to July 2021) Olympics. People from all over the world will be appreciating the sport, many for the first time.
This symbolizes the surfing community breaking through centuries of negative stereotypes. Though conditions play a big part in the sport, the biggest hurdle the athletes will have to overcome to see success is mental. The winner will be the one who chooses their waves wisely with their understanding of the conditions and ability to intimidate and therefore overcome components. Meanwhile, they will be challenging themselves to emerge from crashing barrels, fly into the air, and land on the shifting surface gracefully. No big deal.
You’ve probably heard the invention of a wave pool, which creates the perfect man-made wave. In 2007, Kelly Slater founded his wave company with a passion to build the perfectly rideable wave at his surf ranch. It was debated whether the Olympics should be held in the ocean or on a manufactured wave, with many differing opinions on what would be right. The decision was made, and the event will take place in the sea, at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan, about 40 miles east of Tokyo, where the rest of the 2021 games will be hosted.
As you watch, take a moment to reflect on the century of effort for this to happen. This initiative can be traced all the way back to the 1912 summer games that took place in Stockholm. Duke Kahanamoku, known as the father of modern surfing, won three gold medals in swimming, and while accepting his medal, he expressed that it was his dream to see surfing be added. To add fuel to the fire, International Surfing Association, recognized as the surfing world's governing authority by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), began lobbying for the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics in 1955.
Surfing is a multidimensional sport unlike any other. Nothing compares to paddling out to the serene silence that awaits beyond the breaking waves. Once you get out there, you immediately escape the many annoyances ingrained in everyday life—the constant notifications on your phone and laptop, your back-to-back schedule, answering to other people. You’re no longer on the time that your watch reads, you’re on mother nature’s time. You’re also no longer in control of your surroundings. Now, all you can do is surrender and wait for the next set to come, while trying to position yourself for when it does.
The high from catching the perfect wave is so addicting that surfers would fail on one hundred in a row just to catch that one. After you catch that perfect one, you replay it in your mind for the rest of the day.
A successful session is reliant on so many factors of mother nature—a force way bigger than us. For ideal conditions to exist, a good-sized swell must approach from the right direction, the wind must be flowing offshore, and you have to time your session right with the ebb and flow of the tide.
The sport is always teaching you life lessons. It is humbling, even if you’ve been practicing it for many years. One reason why it takes so long to master is that the conditions are going to be different every time you get out there. You might have caught a million yesterday, but today makes you feel like a kook because you can’t land one decent wave.
The community of people that you become a part of when you surf is special. A shared obsession with the ocean that brings you to dive into the water at dawn to get a session in bonds you quick. When you’re out there, you’ll find yourself interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds. People enjoy sharing the stoke of the sport. When you see someone out there teaching somebody new, you’ll encounter them cheering at the top of their lungs when they catch a good wave, and as you look around, you’ll see smiles all across the lineup. The other day, I caught a long wave in to be met with a cheering crowd of locals who frequent the spot that I do. When I got to shore, a local showed me their secret stash of hot packs to access in case I, or someone else, gets stung by a stingray when they aren’t around.
Being out in the ocean and abiding by her rules gives surfers a deep love and connection to nature. It’s common to see sea animals out there, like dolphins, stingrays, and fish. When you have an encounter, it’s a reminder that we are invading their territory. It sucks when you see trash floating in the water, or on the sand in its route to the water. It’s a sad reminder of the negative impact that humans can have on natural environments. It inspires you to pick up trash and advocate for sustainability so that we, as a collective, can take care of the beauty that we are lucky to have access to.
Tune in to see surfing break into the biggest international sporting event in the world beginning on Saturday, July 24th.
Do you live by the ocean? Paddle out with an instructor.
Don't live by the water, but still want to train for your next surf trip? Consider these classes.
If your location isn't listed above, browse Mindbody to see if they are available in your city.