Through My Eyes
There I was, on my first day of a fitness class, walking towards the crowd of people looking for a place to set up. As I approached it was obvious that the crowd was predominantly white. The good majority of people were fit, attractive and comfortable in the environment. People obviously knew each other and were quite chatty. As I pushed through the feelings of discomfort and awkwardness I found a nice quiet spot in the back of the class where I could be invisible.
If you are a minority of any kind, this is a quite familiar feeling. Joining a fitness class, gym or program can be quite intimidating in general, but add being a minority to the mix and it can be a bit overwhelming. I have experienced this many times in my life, especially here in California. My town of Palm Springs is no different. Although the town has seen a slight increase in diversity in recent years, and has a high LGBTQ population, there is not as much ethnic diversity as many other towns I have lived in. In fact, I have encountered more racism here than in any city I have lived in, which was surprising to me since this town is LGBTQ friendly and quite progressive. As an East Indian/brown person, I am often the only or one of the only persons of color in an environment. During my first few months in this town I was considering leaving and a friend of mine, who happens to be an Asian Trans Woman, said to me “If you leave, nothing will change. It takes people like us to stay in order to bring about change.” Those words stuck with me to the point where I did stay, and have been here for 5 years.
The city is changing and there is so much awareness, especially with movements such as Black Lives Matter. Racism (whether conscious or not), is no longer something you can hide from. There are organizations that are allies, supporters and educators against bigotry and prejudice. I am quite involved in our local community. I have supported and been involved with most of the major organizations that support our community, and I am a supporter of our local businesses.
In 2021 I became heavily involved with a fitness class leading to me becoming an instructor. It was an amazing feeling not just to help motivate people to live healthier lives, but to also be an instructor of color, and be that representation that people like me sometimes need in the fitness world. I even had students of color approach me and tell me how wonderful it made them feel for me to lead class. In that moment I knew that I was meant to be doing this.
Lack of representation in the fitness world can sometimes result in an environment that is not inclusive, especially if the instructor, trainer or staff is unaware or unwilling to learn, ask questions and adjust. There can be an unintentional bias or favoritism that occurs and can appear uneven or unfair to someone looking to be included, especially concerning participation. Racism or prejudice can go under the radar or not be dealt with properly. Proper boundaries and rules can be overlooked or not enforced because of a lack of understanding or not being able to relate or understand.
Representation in the fitness world creates opportunities for under-represented communities to find support, validation and inclusion/acceptance. Seeing someone that a minority can relate to, or knowing that the person is aware and properly educated/trained in these areas, may make them more likely to participate and improve their experience. Having representation also helps reduce negative stereotypes about groups. For example, having positive representation in the media has helped transform public opinions and prejudice towards certain groups.
I started Endeavor with Jase with representation and inclusivity as driving factors. Although Palm Springs is still growing in diversity, I will do everything as an Instructor of color to represent all minorities and under represented groups. I have policies in place that protect my students and I have a zero tolerance for any prejudice or discrimination. I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to lead people in exercise. It is my hope that other fitness programs and facilities will continue to evolve, update their policies, train their partners and staff appropriately and hire a diverse range of individuals to represent the community.
We all have been there – The alarm clock goes off, daylight begins to make its way through our windows, and suddenly we are faced with a choice. Do we jump out of bed and head to the gym (like we promised ourselves the night before), or hit the snooze button and postpone it for another time? The snooze button was once a champion of many battles in my household. In fact, there were many times where I could have been doing something active, but something more important always came along… at least that’s what I convinced myself of. Lack of proper exercise and activity is often blamed on a lack of motivation, but it is my firm belief that lack of discipline is to blame.
To have motivation, means that there is an incentive involved with taking a course of action. The lack of incentive reduces the willingness or desire to complete the action. On the other hand, to have discipline, is to have regulated, regimented and controlled behavior. Incentive plays no role in discipline. With so many people tying their fitness goals to motivation, it is no wonder why so many fail.
In my experience, in order to be successful in prioritizing your health, you must remove the reward or incentive from your focus. Your attention must always be on the experience as you create new habits for yourself. Good health is a lifelong commitment, not a short-term goal that you can achieve and forget about. If you have made the decision that you want to live a healthier life, then you must map out necessary changes in your habits and put together a schedule that reflects that decision. This means selecting a time each day to be active, whether that is going to the gym, taking a fitness class, going for walks, etc. You also must make changes to habits that affect your health such as your dietary and drinking habits.
As someone who works full time, having structure in my schedule is important to me. I start every morning with an activity prior to starting work. Although the activities often change, by allocating the time, I allow myself the flexibility of trying different things. Last year I spent almost every morning doing a fitness class, along with going to the gym 3 days a week. I also like to ride my bike, play tennis, and go for walks. Because this is a part of my life, I don’t feel the need for motivation in order to accomplish them. In fact, if for some reason I miss a day, I feel off! Making changes to your lifestyle is crucial to living a healthier life, and you can only accomplish and maintain this with proper discipline.
I hope you find this post useful, and find a way to use discipline in prioritizing your health. If you are a Palm Springs local, I welcome you to join my fitness classes beginning in February.
Good luck and be well!
“Roll em back” or “Stand up straight” are both phrases that many of us recall getting screamed to us during childhood by either our mother or other authority figure. Proper posture has always been tied to projecting self-confidence, attractiveness, improving our moods and good health. As someone who works from home, and is in a desk chair most of the day, I am well aware of how much our daily routines affect our posture. As a result, I find myself constantly having to check my stance throughout the day, especially during my workout. Proper posture is essential to balance and maintaining proper form during your fitness routine to prevent injuries and help execute your exercise properly.
So, how does something so simple get overlooked? When you’re in a rush, or just distracted, Its easy to want to dive right into your workout routine and get it out of the way. While fitness facilities can get busy, and most of us are pressed for time, one can easily shift their focus to equipment availability, their surroundings and/or the mechanics of the exercise itself… forgetting to check their posture and form. This can not only defeat the purpose of the exercise, but it can result in injury. I am guilty of it! Two years ago while using gym equipment while slouching, I injured my back leaving me in pain for months! It is important whether using exercise equipment or participating in a fitness class to always practice good posture and form. Become familiar with the proper positioning for each exercise by closely monitoring your instructor, reviewing the labels on the fitness equipment, or asking a trainer.
If you are having difficulty with your form, there may be other reasons behind it. Although we live in a world where many of our normal routines are counterproductive to maintaining good posture, poor posture isn’t only habitual. For example, tight muscles can limit your range of motion resulting in limited ability to maintain proper form. There are also health conditions, that affect posture, like scoliosis, due to curvature in the spine. If you are having difficulty maintaining proper form for your exercises or maintaining proper posture throughout the day, it is important to discuss this with your doctor to identify any possible medical reasons that may be causing the issue.
So, next time you hear someone yell “Stand up straight!” it may be me! Exercise safely people, and the next time you start a workout, ask yourself… “how is my posture and form?”