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This is a post from our (always amazing) Mindbody community.
It was Sunday, and the adrenaline was high. I added a few things to my getting-ready routine to aid in my confidence: eyeliner (damn that unattainable wing), my favorite leggings, and my new, fresh-but-not-intense perfume. I had already done all I could do to prepare, but in anxious-millennial fashion, my mind raced with all the lovely, worst-case scenarios that could happen. God, my imagination is good at that.
As I threw my hair into a low pony, I started to practice a breathing technique I do when I’m about to speak in public. In for six, hold for six, out for six. Times six. It has been my go-to, doing the job of lowering my cheetah-fast heartbeat and bringing my breath back to baseline. I wasn’t technically public speaking, but I thought this technique could assist. Turns out, it didn’t.
As a yoga instructor, I live for the face-to-face student connection. I love when I get to experience someone new – they come to my class, and they leave with a light atop their head, as if they’ve just discovered something lifechanging (because they did!). I love observing a student’s progress - gently helping them into a deeper version of a pose, or watching them nail something they’ve been working on for months. I love stepping onto the cold, hardwood floors of a studio, feeling the energy of a thousand practitioners with my bare feet.
Maybe it’s my ego talking, but I also love who I am when I teach. I love everything about it. I can oftentimes lean towards feeling inadequate or like an imposter (I believe it’s actually a skill that keeps me humble and hungry), but not when I’m leading a class. When I’m teaching, I know it’s to serve a higher collective – it's not about me, and that allows me to comfortably step into confidence.
That is, until I went virtual
Back to Sunday. The breathing technique wasn’t working. Reassuring myself I had everything ready to go – sequence formulated, playlist laid out to a T, living room staged, camera angle dialed in – wasn’t working. I was, as my late Italian grandmother used to call it, plagued with the “nervoso”.
There I was, about to teach a class to 25 virtual students, and my cheetah heart was pumping full blast. I felt like I was teaching my very first class. And in a sense, I was.
There was so much more that went into a virtual class than I was prepared for, most of which I learned while teaching my first one. For example, a teacher should test whether the participants can hear their voice over their music (didn’t do that). A teacher should also make sure the WiFi connection is strong, and turn off any unused devices (didn't do that, either). One should definitely make sure their pets aren’t able to open doors and come billowing into the staged yoga “studio”. But *sigh* - we live, and we learn. Did I mention how freaking hard it is to teach and take the class at the same time?
My new name is Huffaluffagus.
The moral of this story is I made it through. I was supported by a beautiful yoga community I love so much, and even some close friends from all over the country. There were a few bumps, but I realized halfway through how incredible this opportunity was to share my class with folks outside of my studio’s city limits. I realized how much we need social connection as humans, and how important it is to be part of a collective. I was so impressed by how quickly Mindbody’s customers created new ways to bring yoga to their communities in times of struggle.
Yes, it was scary. Yes, things happened that weren’t planned. But with every virtual class, I’ll get better.
To instructors: don't let the events of today’s world keep our work frozen. We have to continue doing what we love outside of our comfortable studio – or gym – spots.
To students: losing the studio experience is devastating, and to teachers, it comes with a whole host of stressors naked to the human eye. Take our virtual classes, share our work with the world by tagging @mindbody on Instagram, and go easy on us when the house cat makes a special appearance.
Find out how you can show support for your favorite studios here.
This June marks 52 years since the 1969 Stonewall Riots took place—a historical event that put the severe lack of LGBTQIA+ rights into the spotlight. Thanks to the efforts of activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, we now have the privilege of celebrating June as Pride Month where members of this community can celebrate everything that makes them beautiful and unique.
At Mindbody, we've created an inclusive, uplifting, and welcoming workspace where all our team members feel valued and inspired to bring their best every day. Here’s what some of our employees said when we asked them what Pride means to them:
“Pride means choosing to be my authentic self, even when it’s hard.” — KT Ellis, Business Relationship Manager
“Pride is about acceptance, community, freedom, and love.” — Josh Pierce, Content Designer
“Pride is about celebrating how far we’ve come, demonstrating how far we’ve got left to go, and focusing on our similarities rather than our differences.” — Bobby Jones, Payments Specialist
“Pride is about celebrating the visibility and accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ people. It’s also about celebrating the diversity among LBGTQIA+ people.” — Robert Arambel Senior Technical Program Manager
As we have discussed before, inclusivity remains an important topic in the wellness industry. 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 LGBTQIA+ community that helps shape, grow, and provide access to wellness.
While Pride Month is a great time for fitness studios to show their support for the community, consistent support throughout the year is much more powerful. Being LGBTQIA+ inclusive is more than hanging up a rainbow flag—it's a consistent alignment with providing equal access for everyone. We’ve done some of the work for you and aggregated a number of awesome fitness studios you can find on the Mindbody app that are celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and creating inclusive spaces for all:
Kyle House Fitness is Chattanooga’s premier fitness program offering group fitness classes and personal training with the best-certified instructors and trainers in the area. Located on Chattanooga’s thriving Southside, Kyle House Fitness is more than a gym, they pride themselves on building a welcoming and inclusive community. The owners of this gym, The Kyles, may sound familiar to you since they recently wrote a blog post for us on how to be an LGBTQIA+ ally in the fitness space.
EVERYBODY is “creating a radically inclusive culture for all bodies to move, strengthen, and heal.” Not only is their $66/month membership affordable, but they also offer 100% subsidized memberships to folks who are in dire financial hardship, which helps remove barriers for those who are marginalized and/or low-income. Aside from their standard program classes, they also offer affordable $8 drop-in classes—some of which are bilingual (Spanish/English). And, they have gender-neutral locker rooms, which is a staple for LGBTQIA+ inclusive spaces.
At Pilates, Barre & Jams, owner Teresa Ellis’ mission is “to make movement available and accessible to the people who have never felt comfortable walking into a status quo studio...” and we are here for it. As a Black queer femme and a former sex worker, Ellis witnessed first-hand what it feels like to be othered, which is exactly why she opened her Pilates studio in 2017—to create a safe space for all. Knowing that financial restraints should never be the reason someone can’t attend one of her classes, she even has a “pay-what-you-can" membership option so everyone can have access to her amazing Pilates classes.
At Mark Fisher Fitness, “making health and hotness fun and inclusive” is their mission. As a member of their Enchanted Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams (yes, you read that right), they promise fast results with a money-back guarantee. It’s not just rainbows and unicorns at MFF—their bright and vibrant space is filled with friendly trainers who are fiercely committed to your results and growth.
This self-proclaimed “gym + safe space + house party” fosters a supportive community without the homophobia, transphobia, and body shaming. Since it’s important to them to reduce barriers for folks with body dysmorphia or gender dysphoria, you won’t find a single mirror in this gym. They take “gym buddies” to a whole new level by offering a monthly social calendar for members to connect online. With classes like “Oakland Booty” and “Tops ‘n Bottoms,” The Queer Gym promises lots of sweat, an encouraging environment, and a dang good time.
At 305 Fitness, their mission is to empower people to love themselves harder and express themselves louder. Their passion stems from their core values of inclusivity, empowerment, self-improvement community responsibility. 305 exists to make fitness more inclusive, empowering, and fun. Movement is more than calorie counting or being the "best" in the room. Movement is about radical self-love, self-expression, and self-pride!
Compass Fitness is a journey for the body, mind, and soul. They encourage their members to find the best version of themselves. With classes like “Hustle & Flow,” “Buns & Guns,” and “HIIT & Run,” you know you’re in for a fun and powerful sweat sesh. On top of being a gym that embraces inclusivity and diversity, they donate all proceeds from their Pride gear to The Center on Colfax, the largest LGBTQIA+ community center in Colorado.
Yoga Box’s mission is to create a space where yoga is available to all. Their community of instructors, staff, and students creates a radically inclusive community of support and a place for people to connect to like-minded individuals. Through consistent, safe, and inspired classes designed to challenge, transform, and empower their students—both physically and mentally—this fitness studio is a safe and supported space to elevate your state.
While this is a great list to get you familiar with some fitness studios that support the LGBTQIA+ community, 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 business we should be highlighting as well!
Wanna sweat it out? Explore more inclusive and empowering studios through the Mindbody app, where you can book everything from HIIT to hot yoga. If you’re looking for other ways to help support the LGBTQIA+ community, you can also donate to your local organizations or support national organizations like The Trevor Project or the Human Rights Campaign.