As health and exercise professionals, we have the knowledge and skill to train and guide our clients and participants towards better health. As leaders who aim to serve our communities, we also have responsible To understand how equality, diversity, and inclusion affects individuals in health and fitness spaces (online and offline), and then use this information to make our environments, such as classrooms, studios, and health clubs, welcoming to everyone. This article looks at what diversity, equity and inclusion means for our industry and how you can help level opportunities and create environments that foster a sense of belonging for your customers and participants.
First, a little definitions:
- justice: Quality of fairness and integrity
- inclusion: The practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources to people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those with physical or mental disabilities or belonging to other marginalized groups
- diversity: The practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds, different races, sexual orientations, etc.
In other words, equity gives everyone in a given space the same voice and ability to use it, diversity is invited to a place, and inclusion is ensuring that everyone in that specific space is able to exist and be 100% authentic. I believe in myself.
Illustration courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change
Why focus on diversity, equality and inclusion in fitness?
When we look at these definitions in the context of the health and fitness industry, it is important to recognize that much of what is being done to perpetuate health outcomes may not be available to everyone. to Example:
- Certain social factors are considered determinants of health, such as poverty, child rearing, food security, poor health conditions and accessibility.
- Social issues stemming from systemic racism and lack of access have created a burden on many individuals in this country, resulting in chronic physical and mental illness at the epigenetic level (i.e. past traumas passed on to subsequent generations).
- Bias that alienate groups of individuals create a feeling of exclusion, especially in the area of wellness and fitness. Studies show that 50% of individuals (which are surveyed within a gym setting, which excludes anyone who was not in this population) feel intimidated or excluded from the general scope of fitness trends and advertising.
Fairness: an attribute of fairness and integrity
It differs from equality in that while equality means providing the same for everyone, fairness means recognizing that we do not all start from the same place and must acknowledge imbalances and make adjustments to them. The process is continuous, and requires us to identify and overcome intended and unintended barriers arising from bias or systemic policies and structures.
Diversity: embracing a diverse group of people
To increase diversity as a health and exercise professional, start by looking at the demographics of your immediate circle of influence, then expand that circle to create a more diverse impact. Doing so increases understanding and fosters empathy as you reflect on a wide range of perspectives and life experiences.
Inclusion: ensuring a sense of belonging
Whether we admit it or not, we all have unconscious internal biases shaped by the influence of social and social ‘norms’, and it can be really hard to recognize and overcome these biases. However, it is possible to create environments that foster a sense of true belonging, even as we acknowledge and respect our differences. Objects of all shapes, sizes, and shades should be welcomed into health and fitness education spaces, and wellness spaces should aim to focus less on performance goals and milestones and instead seek to create unity and community connectedness. The members of these communities can then be empowered to seek out each other and spend time in genuine empathy in return.
Start looking inside
The work really begins with dismantling prejudices. We all have subconscious and conscious tendencies and opinions that influence the decisions we make. Biases are simply preferences or opinions we might have about different groups of people that we perceive to be more or more similar to us. It’s up to us as health and exercise professionals to recognize our personal biases and adjust our thinking, as needed, to stay holistic. Within our industry, weight bias, racial prejudice Generational bias must be addressed and reconciled so that we can do so improve experiences Of those who seek to belong. Take the time to understand the impact you’re having as a fitness leader and think of ways to further diversify your circles of influence. Doing so can help kick-start the process for more variety as a group. diversification It leads to mutual understanding, which leads to empathy.
Begin the comprehension process personal biases and opinions, as they can have a profound effect on your interactions with others. Realizing that we need to start with our own biases and beliefs can be an effective first step toward a more equitable existence in health and fitness.
Resources to continue learning more about EDI in the fitness industry: