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Addressing Race in Boutique Fitness

Addressing Race in Boutique Fitness

Virtual Town Hall with Nt Etuk and Kendra Blackett-Dibinga

About this EVENT

Listen to this powerful hour-long Town Hall led by Empowerment Training Expert Leanne Shear as she dives into a conversation about race in the boutique fitness world with two industry veterans and Black business owners.

First, we’ll get a macro view of the industry through the experience of Nt Etuk, Founder of FitGrid and Co-Founder of BFS, in conjunction with the on-the-ground experiences of three-location studio owner and Chief Visionary Officer of Bikram Yoga Works, Kendra Blackett-Dibinga. The second half of the session allowed an open forum where viewers posed questions to our panelists and shared experiences.

Links to Additional Resources

Notes

Recommendations that can directly impact some of the racial inequities in our industry and society.

We recognize that not all of these things are easily implemented given the current economic situation, but we encourage first, awareness, and then action on the following items:

1. Address Potential Wage Disparities In Your Payroll

According to Quartz, “Blacks in America … make 78% as much in weekly wages as whites” and Harvard Business Review reports that “African-Americans . . . still face obstacles to advancement that other minorities and white women don’t. They are less likely than their white peers to be hired, developed and promoted.”

Recommendation: Determine whether such disparities in wage/income exist in your own businesses.  If they do, note them and address them when you feel stable enough to do so.

.
2. Actively Develop Black and Latino Trainers and Instructors into Managers

As two Black men in the boutique fitness industry, we visit studios everywhere and attend industry conventions throughout the country and we have always noticed the lack of diversity in the ranks of management at the companies with which we interact.

Despite the existence of a robust pool of Black and Latino personal trainers/group fitness instructors at gyms and studios in major metropolitan cities, we see few, if any, of them in management positions, in leadership positions at trade associations, or as executives at the numerous companies in the boutique fitness ecosystem that support our industry.

Recommendation: Develop your minority trainers/instructors.  Not only would mentoring/nurturing capable and interested trainers/instructors help them economically, but it may also help you attract new clients to your studios.

.
3. Hire Multi-ethnic Instructors For Your Virtual Fitness Platforms

We get it.  In some parts of the country, it’s more challenging to find Black and Latino instructors, but numerous studies have discovered that companies with diverse teams earn as much as 35% more revenue than the median company in their industry.

We now live in a livestream world where people from around the country and the world can attend your classes.  As a result, hiring trainers of different backgrounds, even if they aren’t local to your studio, can result in them bringing more clients to your business from cities they live in, which can boost your bottom line.

Recommendation:   Actively look for multicultural trainers or instructors through organizations like Talent Hack to attract new clients and increase your revenue.

.
4. Re-examine The Images In Your Marketing Campaigns

It’s well known that boutique fitness has a diversity problem (not just in terms of management, but also clientele).  This has been written about extensively in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Essence.

Some of this is due to the higher prices for boutique fitness classes relative to the average income of African Americans, but some of it is also due to the fact that boutique fitness doesn’t offer many images of clients from minority communities (this is both from a pure race perspective, but also from a body image perspective).  However, this can be easily addressed in your choice of brand imagery.

The added benefit is that in communities where fewer minorities live, by showcasing a more diverse array of images in your marketing campaigns, you will begin to expose people to positive images of race (with a common point of interest – your modality) versus the more challenging narratives that are often portrayed in the media.

Recommendation: Examine the images associated with your brand on your website, social media, etc. What do you see? If it’s all the same type of person, incorporate other images to display a more diverse array of people to make your studio feel more welcoming to a broader segment of the population and that could be good for your bottom line.

Notes

Recommendations that can directly impact some of the racial inequities in our industry and society.

We recognize that not all of these things are easily implemented given the current economic situation, but we encourage first, awareness, and then action on the following items:

1. Address Potential Wage Disparities In Your Payroll

According to Quartz, “Blacks in America … make 78% as much in weekly wages as whites” and Harvard Business Review reports that “African-Americans . . . still face obstacles to advancement that other minorities and white women don’t. They are less likely than their white peers to be hired, developed and promoted.”

Recommendation: Determine whether such disparities in wage/income exist in your own businesses.  If they do, note them and address them when you feel stable enough to do so.

.
2. Actively Develop Black and Latino Trainers and Instructors into Managers

As two Black men in the boutique fitness industry, we visit studios everywhere and attend industry conventions throughout the country and we have always noticed the lack of diversity in the ranks of management at the companies with which we interact.

Despite the existence of a robust pool of Black and Latino personal trainers/group fitness instructors at gyms and studios in major metropolitan cities, we see few, if any, of them in management positions, in leadership positions at trade associations, or as executives at the numerous companies in the boutique fitness ecosystem that support our industry.

Recommendation: Develop your minority trainers/instructors.  Not only would mentoring/nurturing capable and interested trainers/instructors help them economically, but it may also help you attract new clients to your studios.

.
3. Hire Multi-ethnic Instructors For Your Virtual Fitness Platforms

We get it.  In some parts of the country, it’s more challenging to find Black and Latino instructors, but numerous studies have discovered that companies with diverse teams earn as much as 35% more revenue than the median company in their industry.

We now live in a livestream world where people from around the country and the world can attend your classes.  As a result, hiring trainers of different backgrounds, even if they aren’t local to your studio, can result in them bringing more clients to your business from cities they live in, which can boost your bottom line.

Recommendation:   Actively look for multicultural trainers or instructors through organizations like Talent Hack to attract new clients and increase your revenue.

.
4. Re-examine The Images In Your Marketing Campaigns

It’s well known that boutique fitness has a diversity problem (not just in terms of management, but also clientele).  This has been written about extensively in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Essence.

Some of this is due to the higher prices for boutique fitness classes relative to the average income of African Americans, but some of it is also due to the fact that boutique fitness doesn’t offer many images of clients from minority communities (this is both from a pure race perspective, but also from a body image perspective).  However, this can be easily addressed in your choice of brand imagery.

The added benefit is that in communities where fewer minorities live, by showcasing a more diverse array of images in your marketing campaigns, you will begin to expose people to positive images of race (with a common point of interest – your modality) versus the more challenging narratives that are often portrayed in the media.

Recommendation: Examine the images associated with your brand on your website, social media, etc. What do you see? If it’s all the same type of person, incorporate other images to display a more diverse array of people to make your studio feel more welcoming to a broader segment of the population and that could be good for your bottom line.

We have been devastated by the events leading up to this nationwide outpouring of grief. However, we also see the potential to have the tough conversations–with ourselves, with our clients, with our teams, with our colleagues, and with other stakeholders–that can move this industry, and the world, in a more positive direction.

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