The recent Black Lives Matter protests has exposed a range of racial inequalities that continue to plague several industries, fitness included. In July 2020, CrossFit CEO and founder Greg Glassman was slammed for his offensive tweets regarding the murder of George Floyd, followed by his resignation — and he's not alone. Workout spaces — gyms, studios, clubs — have long been breeding grounds for systemic racism, with many fitness instructors and goers affirming they haven't felt "home" as a Black/POC in fitness spaces.
A 2019 analysis by Bloomberg revealed that most mega franchises (the likes of Barry's Boot Camp and Pure Barre) are usually found in neighborhoods that are over 80 percent white, while 12 of the 13 other franchises whose gyms were included in the data were also in areas with an average of 70-80 percent white people.
Still, a small but growing section of Black-founded and owned fitness studios are fostering a shift — especially as virtual classes allow newfound access to studios across the country.
Ahead, tap through for 10 Black-owned fitness studios with virtual classes to try.
This Boston-based studio offers an incredible range of dance and sculpt classes, along with a special training program the business has instituted that invests in training 20 instructors of color every year. The business also makes substantial contributions to aiding local organizations that support the Black community.
Alright, not exactly a fitness studio per-se — but does it help that celebrity fitness trainer has trained a long list of celebrities, Kim Kardashian included? Better known on social media as FitGurlMel, her offerings range from online classes and training packages to Instagram live fitness routines you can sign up for ahead of time.
Based in Brooklyn's Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood, this woman-run boutique studio offers traditional classes — like barre, pilates, and TRX strength training — with a vibrant twist. Can't make one of their socially distant outdoor classes? The studio launched an On Demand program, offering monthly video rentals for $5.99 each. What's more, $1 for each download goes towards The Campaign Against Hunger.
For $12.50 for your first class, this Harlem-based cycling studios offers a variety of spin and sculpt classes that have been a hit in the neighborhood — just look at its 5-star Yelp rating. The greatness is the same in the studio's virtual classes, with founder and trainer Tammeca Rochester herself conducting multiple classes.
Another NYC gem, JTW Fit claims to be "the first boutique fitness studio in Harlem" and emphasizes on "maximizing" your potential. At $10 per session, not only is getting a digital membership worth a shot, but their customized workout regimes are designed to meet every customer's personal fitness goal.
Missing your pilate workouts? Worry not — California-based Sweat Pilates is now online with its low-impact classes. Founders Moe Daniels and Travis John have tweaked them in a way that requires minimal equipment and offers maximum results.
Another celebrity approved brand, Gloveworx counts Jennifer Aniston (I mean, c'mon!) among others as its patrons. As the name suggests, boxing is at the core of its workouts. Not only can get on a zoom group boxing session, but the studio is also offering virtual private classes.