Forces of Fitness: Meet 6 Women Changing The Industry For The Better (Women's Health)

Posted: Oct 02, 2023 in In the News

This article originally appeared in Women's Health on October 2, 2023.


Forces of Fitness: Meet 6 Women Changing The Industry For The Better

By Jacqueline Andraiakos and Amanda Lucci

At its core, movement is universal. Whether weights light your fire, dance feeds your soul, or a run outside provides mental clarity, sweat is the great equalizer that can transcend the differences that set people apart.

But while some pros act as if it’s easy to throw on some shoes and get going, the barrier to entry can feel like an unscalable mountain—especially if you’ve never seen anyone like yourself reach that proverbial summit before.

In theory, social media makes connecting to like-minded fitness enthusiasts simple. There are tons of opportunities to inspire, motivate, and delight—but also to exclude. That’s why following folks who share lived experiences can make a difference. “Representation allows you to dream beyond what you thought possible,” says Kensa Gunter, PsyD, CMPC, a clinical and sport psychologist and the director of the NBA and WNBA’s Mind Health program. “It gives you hope and confidence and creates a sense of belonging.”

Representation isn’t the only way the fitness space is evolving. It’s no longer just about, say, lifting more or running faster, but also strengthening mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness—or “feeling better as a whole person,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, president and chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise.

Indeed, there’s recently been a shift in people’s “why” when it comes to exercising: Stress relief and mental health are now the top two reasons people sweat, according to a report from Mindbody, a workout scheduling platform. “Now we think, What does it mean to be fit in multiple areas of my life?” Gunter says. “If you see people who hold different identities walking journeys similar to yours, it expands your idea of what fitness and community looks like.”

These six women know firsthand that fitness is about more than fitting in. It’s about moving in a way that fills your cup, sharing your truth, and being yourself. As Bryant says, “all individuals deserve to participate in physical activity and experience its benefits”—they just may need a bit of inspo first. We hope you’ll see a piece of yourself in these stars and challenge your definition of fitness. “Belonging happens because a community is created that allows people to bring their full selves to the table,” says Gunter. Time to pull up a seat.


Read the full article here.

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