How one studio is navigating the virtual landscape (and has for years)
Download the app
Fitness memberships, workout classes, wellness services, beauty appointments and more.
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!
When was the last time you stopped to evaluate your mental strength? It’s an important part of your overall wellness—one we often neglect, especially as young Black men. It’s time to take a closer look at what it means to be mentally strong and what you can do to get there. When you begin taking steps to improve your mental fortitude, you’ll see for yourself just how valuable it is.
First things first: mental strength is an enormous component of mental health, but it isn’t the only part of being mentally healthy. You can have a mental illness diagnosis, like depression or anxiety, while also being mentally strong (especially when your condition is well controlled). Your mental toughness is all about self-awareness and self-confidence, resilience, and the ability to handle whatever challenges life throws your way. It’s also about practicing self-acceptance and being kind to yourself even when things don’t go as planned.
Does all this sound like you—or is this unfamiliar territory? Unfortunately, even in 2021, talking about our mental and emotional health is stigmatized. As a society, we’re overdue for an attitude adjustment about mental wellness and self-care. It’s high time we learned to speak more openly about our thoughts, feelings, and moods and how we can improve our mental strength. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it can help us to improve our self-esteem, work toward building resilience, and enjoy positive emotions more frequently.
I feel like I need to be honest, and speak candidly here—or else it wouldn’t be authentically me. As young Black men, we’re especially reticent to discuss our mental states. This is due in large part to us believing that others will perceive us as weak if we talk openly about our emotions. If we can be brave enough to speak up and make vulnerability commonplace, we can make it safer and easier for others to do the same. As a united community, we can end the shame surrounding mental and emotional health issues by making these conversations the nucleus of true change. We’re all in this together, and no one should ever feel alone. Vulnerability, in this instance, is the ultimate strength.
It’s easier to navigate life when you find someone who is in the same place you are—but finding that person can be a challenge. That’s why I want to encourage anyone reading this to be brave in revealing what’s going on inside of your mind. When you have the guts to speak up, you’ll be amazed at how quickly other people will empathize with your experiences and share their own.
Changing your outlook requires more than merely thinking positive thoughts. Let’s explore the habits of mentally strong people and how those behaviors can improve our own mental and emotional wellness.
1. Practice mindfulness
If you’ve never experienced mindfulness meditation before, now is a great time to give it a try. Mindfulness exercises are simple behaviors that quiet your brain and bring you back to the present moment. If you struggle with persistent negative thoughts, meditating can help you to learn to direct your attention to calmer and happier places. Its benefits include reduced stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as better sleep and lower blood pressure. Do you want to get started? Check out these helpful mindfulness tips, which you can incorporate into your life as soon as today.
2. Stay physically healthy
Your physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. That’s why it’s so important to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and get a good night’s sleep. Aim for at least five days of exercise per week, with a minimum of thirty minutes per day. If you’re pressed for time or aren’t a gym person, try going for a brisk walk on your lunch hour or after work. When you’re exercising for mental health, it’s important that you find an activity you really enjoy. You might also ask your doctor if using a mood-boosting supplement, like Onnit New Mood, is a good choice for you.
3. Write in a journal
Here’s another way to boost your mental strength: try writing in a self-affirmation journal. A self-affirmation journal is a safe place to reflect on who you are, what you’re all about, and where you want to go. It’s a great way to practice speaking kindly about yourself and to remember all the good you bring to the world around you. You can purchase a journal with helpful self-esteem prompts or use a plain notebook and these free prompts. Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to do this—whatever helps you to practice self-acceptance and celebrate your achievements is perfect for you.
4. Ask for help when you need it
I know it’s not easy to reach out and ask for help, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you haven’t been feeling your best, it’s smart to seek support from the caring people in your life. It could be as simple as venting your fears and frustrations to a friend or asking your boss for an extension on a work deadline. Or, if you’ve been feeling unwell for some time, you might need to check in with your general practitioner or a mental health specialist. In any case, you aren’t weak for asking for help when you need it. As a matter of fact, admitting that you could use some emotional support and empathy means you’re strong and self-aware.
5. Find your people
Speaking of friends, life is so much better with good people by your side. Remember that we’re all on this journey together and that leaning on one another is how we survive and thrive. When you find friends who really understand you, support you and champion you, you want to hold onto them for dear life. And while it isn’t always easy to make new friends as an adult, it’s still possible. Wherever you find your people—at work, at school, at the gym, or on a digital app—you should make them a priority. Your friendships can improve your self-esteem and help you to meet life’s challenges head-on.
6. Train your subconscious
Once I figured out how to reprogram my subconscious mind, it did wonders for my mental strength and overall mental health. I’m huge on fitting autosuggestion, visualization, and daily-affirmations into your routine. Using myself as an example, in order to train and reframe my subconscious, I repeat this phrase to myself 20 times in the morning when I wake up, and 20 times at night before I go to sleep: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Along with gratitude journaling, I visualize my goals and imagine that I can see, touch, and feel the end result of me achieving them. My favorite books on the subconscious and these daily philosophies are Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mldinow.
As you may have guessed, mental strength isn’t developed overnight, but we can all take steps to improve. Just like our biceps, triceps, hamstrings and quads, our brain is a muscle—and the most important one that we have. Without aligning ourselves mentally, we won’t get the most out of ourselves physically. As you spend more time and energy on building your self-esteem and sense of resilience, be patient with yourself. Every small choice or change you make is an excellent step in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, small steps equal great distances. Now let’s take those first few steps.