Diversity/ Inclusion

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
I really, really love the many creative and awesome workouts that Darebee has available each day and utilize the workouts with the clients in many classes that I teach each week. My client's range in all shapes, sizes and orientations and so I was wondering if the Darebee company would consider making artist illustrations in the future reflecting those from all different cultural backgrounds. This would be Amazing to me! Exercise is great for everyone and really needs to be expanded and promoted and this may be one way to connect with clients if they see that companies show their commitment with all walks of life.
Thank you again for all you do Darebee in sharing your workouts with us and have a healthy and fit day!!
Chris
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
@chris ryan drawings I Google of different cultural backgrounds tend to be caricatures and could be offensive. How do you see this being done?
Thank You Thinman for your reply and response. Due to our heredity, We all have different skin colors, backgrounds, hairstyles, body frames, etc. It would be great to see these differences in the artists pictures/photos of the exercisers such as with an African Woman working out or with a Korean Man in the photos to show some representation from all groups of our world. I googled many exercising photos and mainly saw one culture represented which is white male and white females and know this needs to change for our world to grow. I do not feel that it would be offensive if Darebee put up exercising photos of people from all cultures and backgrounds that enjoy this healthy habit. I do appreciate how Darebee has photos of wheelchair individuals and hoped maybe the artists who does these drawings would add some exercisers from all other areas of the world to show diversity.
 

Henry

Well-known member
Warrior Monk from Ontario Canada
Posts: 112
"KEEP FIT - EAT WELL"
Super heroes and heroines would be good and maybe D&D or video game type characters.

9d414b4c45dad9d8c5dd77b44a95869e.jpg
 

lofivelcro

Well-known member
Hunter from the sticks
Posts: 486
"Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today"
Personally, I see the illustrations as schematics that are easy on printer ink/toner. I would even prefer it if the backgrounds were white, too. Just, you know, black and white. Easiest to print.
As for the photos, I suppose you have to have the right people at hand. If you don't know any Koreans or African women, you can't put them in the photos. Tbh, I don't know when I've last seen a black or Asian person in real life. Depending on where the folks of Darebee are having their headquarters and the company they have, it might be a bit difficult.
 

Sólveig

Well-known member
Pirate from Cabudare - Venezuela
Pronouns: She/Her
Posts: 465
"Ars longa, vita brevis"
Super heroes and heroines would be good and maybe D&D or video game type characters.

9d414b4c45dad9d8c5dd77b44a95869e.jpg

A Tiefling workout, maybe? I'm down to with that! I mean, Spellbound, Carbon and Dust, Hero's Journey, Pathfinder, and Age of Pandora exist.

Personally, I see the illustrations as schematics that are easy on printer ink/toner. I would even prefer it if the backgrounds were white, too. Just, you know, black and white. Easiest to print.
As for the photos, I suppose you have to have the right people at hand. If you don't know any Koreans or African women, you can't put them in the photos. Tbh, I don't know when I've last seen a black or Asian person in real life. Depending on where the folks of Darebee are having their headquarters and the company they have, it might be a bit difficult.

Workouts like Shepard and Valkyrie do have some variations on the illustrations, although it is minor. Nevertheless, this is a good point to bring up. The illustrations as they are work better for printing posters as they are very simple and don't require much color. Besides, it may be me, but I don't see the race in the illustrations, mainly because it's hard to pick up their facial features upon their simplistic style. Nothing about color.

As a Latina, I don't mind the way they are. I feel more represented by the name, the description, and the actual feel of the workouts more than the illustrations. I simply decant more for the girl pictures, and I usually pick up Croft because that's my fitspiration from videogames. Besides, I'm from a country where there's pretty much no majority of a single race; we are all a mixed bag of people from different backgrounds. That's my personal opinion, though.
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
A Tiefling workout, maybe? I'm down to with that! I mean, Spellbound, Carbon and Dust, Hero's Journey, Pathfinder, and Age of Pandora exist.



Workouts like Shepard and Valkyrie do have some variations on the illustrations, although it is minor. Nevertheless, this is a good point to bring up. The illustrations as they are work better for printing posters as they are very simple and don't require much color. Besides, it may be me, but I don't see the race in the illustrations, mainly because it's hard to pick up their facial features upon their simplistic style. Nothing about color.

As a Latina, I don't mind the way they are. I feel more represented by the name, the description, and the actual feel of the workouts more than the illustrations. I simply decant more for the girl pictures, and I usually pick up Croft because that's my fitspiration from videogames. Besides, I'm from a country where there's pretty much no majority of a single race; we are all a mixed bag of people from different backgrounds. That's my personal opinion, though.
Thank You for your comments and I really appreciate your points and views on this. This is really cool that you celebrate your heritage as a Latina and come from a country with no majority of a single race. Your country sounds Amazing in that each can learn so much from each other and contribute as a whole mix together. I think Croft is a great fitspiration as well!
Where I am at, teaching in the United States, the workouts that I do, I have a mixed bag of many diverse individuals from multiple backgrounds that participate in exercise classes. They all really enjoy feeling better from the workouts and accomplishing both short term and long term goals. While researching from multiple sites, to see what images that are out there are most prevalent, I just noticed how many cultures are not represented and felt like if I was a student in my class, how unique it would feel to have one of the workouts feature photos from another ethical race . I do print off some photos from all backgrounds and genders for the class (by copying and pasting) because I feel it is important for visualization and imaging purposes for each individual to see their own success and just thought maybe since no major webpage is really focusing on all cultures, Darebee would consider being a frontrunner in making this happen and set a new goal for the world of fitness to look up to. I really love Darbee for promoting health and wellness as a priority for our world!
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
Personally, I see the illustrations as schematics that are easy on printer ink/toner. I would even prefer it if the backgrounds were white, too. Just, you know, black and white. Easiest to print.
As for the photos, I suppose you have to have the right people at hand. If you don't know any Koreans or African women, you can't put them in the photos. Tbh, I don't know when I've last seen a black or Asian person in real life. Depending on where the folks of Darebee are having their headquarters and the company they have, it might be a bit difficult.
Lofivelcro,
Here are some examples to share with you of exercisers who have multiple cultures such as African and Korean (push-up photo). It took me quite a while to find these photos on Google which it really should not. You can see how we all are Beautiful and how exercise unites us all in this way to better health. I would love to see Darbee's artists try to expand their skillful photos and try to draw one or more of these exercisers in the upcoming months to add with their current list.

Just imagine what it would feel like, if you could see a visual image of another who looked similar to yourself (culturally) succeeding and posted this on your wall while exercising,
do you really feel that an extra dollar of ink would make the difference to a classmate who always sees white privileged people all the time?
This is what some of my students see all the time and I just hoped that Darebee would consider trying something new to help others out.

Honestly, it would be refreshing to see other cultures on display, kind of like seeing a rainbow of all colors represented on Darebee's website and the fact is, that we can all chose to print which ones we want and there are plenty to print so no ink is ever wasted if it changes the life of a minority who sees herself or himself succeeding in a white dominated world. Have a great day!
 

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lofivelcro

Well-known member
Hunter from the sticks
Posts: 486
"Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today"
I don't know, man, I really don't. I just look at the images and try to figure out how to perform an exercise, I don't care how the drawing looks. At most, I think about it practically, like I said, toner or printing ink. I dimly remember a post in the past that there should have been more diverse workouts coming up and there even was one workout with a darker person, but I might imagine things on that part. If they stopped after one workout, they might had have reasons for that.
 

Henry

Well-known member
Warrior Monk from Ontario Canada
Posts: 112
"KEEP FIT - EAT WELL"
I always thought the drawings were traced from photos of the Darebee crew, like this drawing of Cheng Man Ching taken from a photo . . .

Chen-Man-Ching.jpg
 

Laura Rainbow Dragon

Well-known member
Bard from Canada
Posts: 460
"Striving to be the change."
I always thought the drawings were traced from photos of the Darebee crew, like this drawing of Cheng Man Ching taken from a photo . . .

Chen-Man-Ching.jpg
I think this example illustrates @chris ryan 's point well and puts to rest @lofivelcro 's fear about overusing printer ink. It's a line drawing just like the Darebee workout illustrations, yet you can clearly see it's a line drawing of a person with Southeast Asian ancestry. The Darebee drawings all look like people with Western European ancestry. (Our skin isn't actually "white" and most of us don't wear exclusively white clothing, yet we still see ourselves in the drawings because they are clearly drawings of people with Western European bone structure, body proportions, and hair.) The Darebee drawings all look like relatively thin and muscular people with Western European ancestry, for that matter. It's easy for those of us who look like the Darebee figures to not notice this, because its our norm, but it's pretty obvious if you honestly look at the drawings through the lens @chris ryan has asked us to consider.

Everyone will have a different perspective on this matter. I don't blink twice over the fact that most of the Darebee illustrations are of male figures. I've been an athletic female my whole life, and I grew up in a world in which athletic pursuits were promoted for and marketed to male people significantly more than female people. I'm used to my gender being outnumbered and never felt this meant I didn't belong. But that's my perspective, and it's very much the product of my own personality and experiences. And even having said the above, the female figures on Darebee workouts do make me happy, and the fact that they look like me (and not like overly skinny women wearing padded push-up bras) makes me happier still.

I have worked in the fitness industry and generally been around/a part of it my entire life, and I have encountered many people who do feel excluded from it because they feel (rightly or wrongly) that people who look like them are not represented in that world. But people of all different ethnicities and body shapes do participate in fitness. I think @chris ryan 's point is well-made.
 

Laura Rainbow Dragon

Well-known member
Bard from Canada
Posts: 460
"Striving to be the change."
Having said the above, Darebee itself operates on a pretty tight budget @chris ryan , and the existing drawings are already done for pretty much any exercises you can imagine. I would wager it's significantly less costly for Darebee to keep plugging the existing images into new workouts versus commissioning new artwork.
 

Logan

Well-known member
Gladiator from Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania, US
Pronouns: He/Him
Posts: 148
"Once more, once more."
@chris ryan @Laura Rainbow Dragon
Something that could be done is have some of the bees submit photos of themselves. Either drawing new pictures or incorporating their features to some extent with the existing images would be fairly easy for some of us.

I'm an artist and I presume some other bees are too.
As for budget I'm sure it would cost little if any, I could consider it a contribution to a site that's given me so much. As long as credit is given.

I don't know who is in charge of that particular element of the site but if this catches their ear it could likely be done.
 

Sólveig

Well-known member
Pirate from Cabudare - Venezuela
Pronouns: She/Her
Posts: 465
"Ars longa, vita brevis"
@chris ryan @Laura Rainbow Dragon
Something that could be done is have some of the bees submit photos of themselves. Either drawing new pictures or incorporating their features to some extent with the existing images would be fairly easy for some of us.

I'm an artist and I presume some other bees are too.
As for budget I'm sure it would cost little if any, I could consider it a contribution to a site that's given me so much. As long as credit is given.

I don't know who is in charge of that particular element of the site but if this catches their ear it could likely be done.

It's a good idea, but there's also the issue of consent. I'll speak for myself only this time, because I don't know about the others. I wouldn't like for my face to be in a workout published by Darebee. It's a privacy issue, hence I don't post my face, and those moments in which I posted pics of me (up on the old Hive) I covered most of my face, or blurred it out.
 

Laura Rainbow Dragon

Well-known member
Bard from Canada
Posts: 460
"Striving to be the change."
It's a good idea, but there's also the issue of consent. I'll speak for myself only this time, because I don't know about the others. I wouldn't like for my face to be in a workout published by Darebee. It's a privacy issue, hence I don't post my face, and those moments in which I posted pics of me (up on the old Hive) I covered most of my face, or blurred it out.
I'm pretty sure @Logan is talking about people volunteering to be models for new graphics. If you don't want to model for new graphics, you wouldn't submit your image for such a project.
 

Sólveig

Well-known member
Pirate from Cabudare - Venezuela
Pronouns: She/Her
Posts: 465
"Ars longa, vita brevis"
I'm pretty sure @Logan is talking about people volunteering to be models for new graphics. If you don't want to model for new graphics, you wouldn't submit your image for such a project.

Yeah, I may have misread the post. I still bring it up to consideration, though. Not everyone feels the same way, and it can give ominous vibes to some people who are more privacy-focused than others.
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
I think this example illustrates @chris ryan 's point well and puts to rest @lofivelcro 's fear about overusing printer ink. It's a line drawing just like the Darebee workout illustrations, yet you can clearly see it's a line drawing of a person with Southeast Asian ancestry. The Darebee drawings all look like people with Western European ancestry. (Our skin isn't actually "white" and most of us don't wear exclusively white clothing, yet we still see ourselves in the drawings because they are clearly drawings of people with Western European bone structure, body proportions, and hair.) The Darebee drawings all look like relatively thin and muscular people with Western European ancestry, for that matter. It's easy for those of us who look like the Darebee figures to not notice this, because its our norm, but it's pretty obvious if you honestly look at the drawings through the lens @chris ryan has asked us to consider.

Everyone will have a different perspective on this matter. I don't blink twice over the fact that most of the Darebee illustrations are of male figures. I've been an athletic female my whole life, and I grew up in a world in which athletic pursuits were promoted for and marketed to male people significantly more than female people. I'm used to my gender being outnumbered and never felt this meant I didn't belong. But that's my perspective, and it's very much the product of my own personality and experiences. And even having said the above, the female figures on Darebee workouts do make me happy, and the fact that they look like me (and not like overly skinny women wearing padded push-up bras) makes me happier still.

I have worked in the fitness industry and generally been around/a part of it my entire life, and I have encountered many people who do feel excluded from it because they feel (rightly or wrongly) that people who look like them are not represented in that world. But people of all different ethnicities and body shapes do participate in fitness. I think @chris ryan 's point is well-made.
Thank You Laura Rainbow Dragon for sharing Your valuable, intelligent and insightful words of wisdom and real-life experiences as a strong female athlete in a male marketed world. I love hearing about your personal perseverance in meeting your challenges throughout your life and would love to hear more about your personal story in life working in the fitness industry and what you have experienced and what elevates you and those you help in reaching their fitness goals.
I truly appreciate your support and kind words for diversity and inclusivity of all different ethnicities and body shapes.
 

Laura Rainbow Dragon

Well-known member
Bard from Canada
Posts: 460
"Striving to be the change."
@chris ryan I grew up the oldest child of two (I"m 14 months older than my brother) in a family that was obsessed with ensuring absolutely everything was 100% equal (usually meaning the same) for both children. I was never allowed to do anything my brother was not allowed to do--even when the reason he was not allowed to do a thing was because he was too young, and he'd be allowed to do it the next year. My parents held me back from both swimming lessons and skating lessons until my brother was old enough to be enrolled in them with me. They refused to allow me to play on the pirate ship in our local shopping mall because that was an age-restricted experience (basically an adventure playground/daycare for 3 and 4 year olds while their parents shopped) and my brother was too young. I wasn't even allowed to play with my friends if they didn't want my little brother hanging around (which they often didn't because he was younger and clumsy and had a tendency to break their toys). This was the story of my life until the summer I was 5 years old and my brother 4, and my parents enrolled my brother in our town's youth soccer league and not me. I asked to be enrolled in the league too, and my father said, "No. Soccer is a boys' game."

As you might imagine, I was outraged. I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I threw a temper tantrum, all to no avail. My father refused to relent. He then proceeded to drag me out to all of my brother's soccer games that summer, where I was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as my brother played. When my brother's team played the girls' team (girls and boys played in the same league at that age, but for some reason that apparently made sense to youth soccer league organizers in 1976, not on the same team) my father even tried to make an example of the girls to me, saying, "Look how unladylike they look: all puffy and red in the face." This did nothing to assuage my feelings of having been treated unjustly. The girls looked to me like they were having fun. I was definitely not having fun. And my brother, who was asthmatic and not a good runner, was puffier and redder in the face than any of the girls. (I, on the other hand, was a much better runner than my brother--to the extent that I could not convince him to play tag with me unless I agreed to handicap myself by using only one leg!)

This went on for eight years. Eight years. After the eighth time that my begging, pleading, and crying failed to convince my father to allow me to play soccer, I called him a "male chauvinist pig." This was not even remotely acceptable behaviour in my family, and I was punished for it. But the next year, inexplicably, when my father signed my brother up for the town youth soccer league and I once again asked if I could play too, my father signed me up as well. No explanation was ever given for why he changed his mind, and he never supported my soccer career in any other way. He never drove me to a single practice or showed up to watch any of my games. But he let me play.

After that experience, walking into a fitness space now, as an adult, where the other people present just don't look like me is nothing. When I had a gym membership, if I wanted to workout in the free weights room, I did. I don't think I even really noticed I was the only female person in there until other women started noticing I used that portion of the gym and commented on how "brave" I was to do so. I didn't think I was brave. I was just a person doing a workout, and access to the free weights was part of the membership I had paid for. Why wouldn't I use them?

But I've learned from speaking with and listening to other people that plenty of people do not experience fitness spaces in the same way that I do. Multiple women have expressed to me an interest in trying free weights but an unwillingness to do so because they felt the free weight room was a male space. When I played ultimate frisbee in a co-ed league a number of women I knew expressed surprise and suggested to me, "Why don't you play baseball? There's an all-women's baseball league." I found this suggestion bizarre. But when I replied, "Because I love ultimate frisbee, but I find baseball boring," these women found my response equally bizarre.

When I worked in HR my employer had a policy (instituted at my suggestion) that the company would pay for a basic gym membership for any employee who signed a contract agreeing to use the membership at least twice a week. I was already making use of this policy, and recommended the club I had chosen to my colleagues. One of them tried out the gym I had chosen on a guest pass and reported back to me that she couldn't possibly work out there because the gym was "full of too many pretty people." I was confused by this assertion because the people at my gym didn't look any different to me from the people at the gym she eventually chose for herself. But later a friend of mine also accepted a guest pass to my gym but reported back to me that she did not like it for a similar reason to my colleague, but which my friend articulated more clearly: The gym I used was a fitness club that also offered a swimming pool, hot tubs, tanning beds, group exercise classes, a juice bar, personal training, and a weight loss program. The weight loss program was promoted fairly heavily via advertising posters in the women's locker room. Posters which I barely even registered. I wasn't interested in weight loss. So I didn't look at the advertising that promoted that service. But my friend--who was very athletic and physically strong but not skinny--was so put off by all the posters of skinny women promoting weight loss, she did not want to visit that gym. (Even to attend the fitness class which I taught, which she claimed to enjoy!) I honestly had not even noticed until my friend pointed it out to me just how many of these posters there were in the women's locker room. (I think there was one on the inside of every toilet stall door. I taught at that club and used the toilets there every day, and hadn't really registered this fact.)

When I worked as a group exercise instructor it was pretty common for club members to talk to me about which spaces within the gym they felt comfortable in and which they did not, and likewise regarding which instructors' classes. Certainly lots of people have their favourite teachers--I did too. I'm quite particular about the teaching styles I prefer for yoga-based fitness classes (which is what I taught and what I primarily participate in). But there was a significant percentage of members who obviously felt more comfortable in one instructor's class over another's based on the instructor's body type. In one instance, a male participant in one of my classes informed me of his opinion that I was a "mean" instructor. I was a bit stumped by this as I thought I taught a pretty well-rounded class. Certainly I encouraged my participants to push themselves hard during the portions of the class that were meant to be hard work, but I equally encouraged them to relax during the parts that were meant to be relaxing. (Also, this person had been attending my class every week for over a year. He couldn't have thought I was that "mean"!) I asked this person to clarify what he meant, and he went on to say that the other female instructor who taught the same class as me in that gym was also "mean" but that the male instructor who taught the same class was "nice". This stumped me even further, because I thought the male instructor's teaching style was quite similar to my own whereas the female instructor was of the belief that all yoga was meant to be gentle and consequently taught the entire class encouraging people to be gentle with their bodies and not push themselves too hard. It took me a few more questions, but I eventually managed to drill down to what this participant meant: The other female instructor and I were both more flexible than he was. So when we demonstrated the poses, we made shapes with our bodies which looked dissimilar to the shapes this participant was able to make with his own body. The male instructor, however, was not any more flexible than the particpant was. It didn't really matter to this participant what any of us were saying--the male instructor was less "mean" to him because the male instructor was the one who looked like him.

Through all of these experiences I have learned to listen to what other people tell me and not to discount someone else's experience of a fitness space, just because it is different from my own. A lot of people experience barriers to participating in fitness activities and spaces which I don't experience--whether due to my privilege or just bullheadedness. This doesn't make their experiences any less real or valid.
So I listen. Which doesn't always mean I can do anything to help. Which can be frustrating. A complaint I hear often about yoga in North America is that it's a realm dominated by skinny white women. And I'm a thinner-than-average white woman who teaches yoga. So I should do what about this complaint? Stop teaching yoga? I know some people who have made this choice. They're all people who enjoy more financial privilege than I do though. Sometimes there aren't any easy answers. But we can all listen. We can all ask ourselves, "What can I do to help make fitness more inclusive?"--and then not discount our answers, even if they seem like small things. I cannot not look like me. And I don't think that removing myself from the yoga world--or any realm in which people who look like me are over-represented--is a great solution, even if I could afford to do it. But I can signal boost people who have greater power to promote diversity than I do. That's a small thing, but it's not nothing.

That's all I've got for now. But I think this is a worthwhile conversation to be having. Thank you for bringing it up.
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
@chris ryan I grew up the oldest child of two (I"m 14 months older than my brother) in a family that was obsessed with ensuring absolutely everything was 100% equal (usually meaning the same) for both children. I was never allowed to do anything my brother was not allowed to do--even when the reason he was not allowed to do a thing was because he was too young, and he'd be allowed to do it the next year. My parents held me back from both swimming lessons and skating lessons until my brother was old enough to be enrolled in them with me. They refused to allow me to play on the pirate ship in our local shopping mall because that was an age-restricted experience (basically an adventure playground/daycare for 3 and 4 year olds while their parents shopped) and my brother was too young. I wasn't even allowed to play with my friends if they didn't want my little brother hanging around (which they often didn't because he was younger and clumsy and had a tendency to break their toys). This was the story of my life until the summer I was 5 years old and my brother 4, and my parents enrolled my brother in our town's youth soccer league and not me. I asked to be enrolled in the league too, and my father said, "No. Soccer is a boys' game."

As you might imagine, I was outraged. I begged, I pleaded, I cried, I threw a temper tantrum, all to no avail. My father refused to relent. He then proceeded to drag me out to all of my brother's soccer games that summer, where I was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as my brother played. When my brother's team played the girls' team (girls and boys played in the same league at that age, but for some reason that apparently made sense to youth soccer league organizers in 1976, not on the same team) my father even tried to make an example of the girls to me, saying, "Look how unladylike they look: all puffy and red in the face." This did nothing to assuage my feelings of having been treated unjustly. The girls looked to me like they were having fun. I was definitely not having fun. And my brother, who was asthmatic and not a good runner, was puffier and redder in the face than any of the girls. (I, on the other hand, was a much better runner than my brother--to the extent that I could not convince him to play tag with me unless I agreed to handicap myself by using only one leg!)

This went on for eight years. Eight years. After the eighth time that my begging, pleading, and crying failed to convince my father to allow me to play soccer, I called him a "male chauvinist pig." This was not even remotely acceptable behaviour in my family, and I was punished for it. But the next year, inexplicably, when my father signed my brother up for the town youth soccer league and I once again asked if I could play too, my father signed me up as well. No explanation was ever given for why he changed his mind, and he never supported my soccer career in any other way. He never drove me to a single practice or showed up to watch any of my games. But he let me play.

After that experience, walking into a fitness space now, as an adult, where the other people present just don't look like me is nothing. When I had a gym membership, if I wanted to workout in the free weights room, I did. I don't think I even really noticed I was the only female person in there until other women started noticing I used that portion of the gym and commented on how "brave" I was to do so. I didn't think I was brave. I was just a person doing a workout, and access to the free weights was part of the membership I had paid for. Why wouldn't I use them?

But I've learned from speaking with and listening to other people that plenty of people do not experience fitness spaces in the same way that I do. Multiple women have expressed to me an interest in trying free weights but an unwillingness to do so because they felt the free weight room was a male space. When I played ultimate frisbee in a co-ed league a number of women I knew expressed surprise and suggested to me, "Why don't you play baseball? There's an all-women's baseball league." I found this suggestion bizarre. But when I replied, "Because I love ultimate frisbee, but I find baseball boring," these women found my response equally bizarre.

When I worked in HR my employer had a policy (instituted at my suggestion) that the company would pay for a basic gym membership for any employee who signed a contract agreeing to use the membership at least twice a week. I was already making use of this policy, and recommended the club I had chosen to my colleagues. One of them tried out the gym I had chosen on a guest pass and reported back to me that she couldn't possibly work out there because the gym was "full of too many pretty people." I was confused by this assertion because the people at my gym didn't look any different to me from the people at the gym she eventually chose for herself. But later a friend of mine also accepted a guest pass to my gym but reported back to me that she did not like it for a similar reason to my colleague, but which my friend articulated more clearly: The gym I used was a fitness club that also offered a swimming pool, hot tubs, tanning beds, group exercise classes, a juice bar, personal training, and a weight loss program. The weight loss program was promoted fairly heavily via advertising posters in the women's locker room. Posters which I barely even registered. I wasn't interested in weight loss. So I didn't look at the advertising that promoted that service. But my friend--who was very athletic and physically strong but not skinny--was so put off by all the posters of skinny women promoting weight loss, she did not want to visit that gym. (Even to attend the fitness class which I taught, which she claimed to enjoy!) I honestly had not even noticed until my friend pointed it out to me just how many of these posters there were in the women's locker room. (I think there was one on the inside of every toilet stall door. I taught at that club and used the toilets there every day, and hadn't really registered this fact.)

When I worked as a group exercise instructor it was pretty common for club members to talk to me about which spaces within the gym they felt comfortable in and which they did not, and likewise regarding which instructors' classes. Certainly lots of people have their favourite teachers--I did too. I'm quite particular about the teaching styles I prefer for yoga-based fitness classes (which is what I taught and what I primarily participate in). But there was a significant percentage of members who obviously felt more comfortable in one instructor's class over another's based on the instructor's body type. In one instance, a male participant in one of my classes informed me of his opinion that I was a "mean" instructor. I was a bit stumped by this as I thought I taught a pretty well-rounded class. Certainly I encouraged my participants to push themselves hard during the portions of the class that were meant to be hard work, but I equally encouraged them to relax during the parts that were meant to be relaxing. (Also, this person had been attending my class every week for over a year. He couldn't have thought I was that "mean"!) I asked this person to clarify what he meant, and he went on to say that the other female instructor who taught the same class as me in that gym was also "mean" but that the male instructor who taught the same class was "nice". This stumped me even further, because I thought the male instructor's teaching style was quite similar to my own whereas the female instructor was of the belief that all yoga was meant to be gentle and consequently taught the entire class encouraging people to be gentle with their bodies and not push themselves too hard. It took me a few more questions, but I eventually managed to drill down to what this participant meant: The other female instructor and I were both more flexible than he was. So when we demonstrated the poses, we made shapes with our bodies which looked dissimilar to the shapes this participant was able to make with his own body. The male instructor, however, was not any more flexible than the particpant was. It didn't really matter to this participant what any of us were saying--the male instructor was less "mean" to him because the male instructor was the one who looked like him.

Through all of these experiences I have learned to listen to what other people tell me and not to discount someone else's experience of a fitness space, just because it is different from my own. A lot of people experience barriers to participating in fitness activities and spaces which I don't experience--whether due to my privilege or just bullheadedness. This doesn't make their experiences any less real or valid.
So I listen. Which doesn't always mean I can do anything to help. Which can be frustrating. A complaint I hear often about yoga in North America is that it's a realm dominated by skinny white women. And I'm a thinner-than-average white woman who teaches yoga. So I should do what about this complaint? Stop teaching yoga? I know some people who have made this choice. They're all people who enjoy more financial privilege than I do though. Sometimes there aren't any easy answers. But we can all listen. We can all ask ourselves, "What can I do to help make fitness more inclusive?"--and then not discount our answers, even if they seem like small things. I cannot not look like me. And I don't think that removing myself from the yoga world--or any realm in which people who look like me are over-represented--is a great solution, even if I could afford to do it. But I can signal boost people who have greater power to promote diversity than I do. That's a small thing, but it's not nothing.

That's all I've got for now. But I think this is a worthwhile conversation to be having. Thank you for bringing it up.
@ Laura Rainbow Dragon,
I agree with you fully, and they should never remove anyone with your character or body type, and they should signal boost people if they can those to promote diversity when it is possible. I really love your idea. Darbee does so much for promoting fitness and I am very appreciative for these insights and ideas!
Thank You Laura Rainbow Dragon for sharing your EPIC story and journey! Every challenge you faced along the way, you managed to rise from deep within and you did not let anything stop you. You have such a clear focus on what you need to accomplish in life, and I admire this so much about you! You truly are an inspiration and guiding light for all Women and All People in all backgrounds, truly Everyone around You should hear your story. You really should consider writing a short story or book of your journey if you already have not. I find that your words and writing is so very liberating and brilliantly inspiring, emotionally moving and heartfelt. I feel you have a great flowing style and skills that is easy for a reader to identify with and feel. Thank You again for being vulnerable and showing us what it means to live life and rise from within and not let anything or anyone hold you back from your dreams of becoming or being what you are which an Amazing Gifted Strong Badass Yoga Instructor and Fitness Woman and Writer in this World!
 

chris ryan

Member
Posts: 11
@chris ryan thank you for your kind words.
I am a writer -- of short stories & 2 zombie-apocalypse-themed workout adventures thus far -- I haven't formally published any non-fiction or autobiography, however. (Except in so far as every writer puts something of themselves into every work. I try not to be too Mary Sue about it though!)
Remarkably So, What Impressive feat, I must say... I really enjoyed seeing the titles of your short stories Chimera Junction, Anne and Mary on the Hyperspace Seas and 2 zombie apocalypse-themed workout adventures; what a cool and creative idea to have and to make working out fun is so smart!! I must give you quite a bit of credit for this and I admire that you put yourself into what you do. To me, this really shows the love that a writer has for what they do. I look forward to reading your stories and appreciate you sending the link as well. I hope you keep creating all that you can and as you feel. This is a beautiful talent and gift to have Laura Rainbow Dragon.
 
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