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  • What Does It Take To Become A Truly Inclusive Fitness Company? With StrongHer

    8th December 2021

    8th December 2021

    By Beth Shelper

    Hi Innermoster’s! It’s that time again. 

    We take pride in collaborating with trail blazing brands and companies that strive to make a difference, and our latest collaboration is no different.

    StrongHer, a woman’s-only gym based in London, have created an exclusive gym space that allows every woman to recognise their unwavering ability to accomplish their goals, in an environment that is non-judgemental, welcoming and celebratory.

    Offering a unqiue StrongHer space, women-only gym, personal training facilities, sports massage and physio facilities and dedicated classes, StrongHer is a truly remarkable space that strives to give women their power back and make the most of their fitness journey, whilst surrounded by supportive, likeminded and strong women.

    We caught up with StrongHer’s Tig Hodson to pick her brains on all things inclusivity: what it means to be an inclusive fitness company, and how StrongHer channels these ideals in everything they do.

    Tig answers all important questions such as what is inclusive fitness, what is diversity in fitness and what can companies do to become truly inclusive brands?

    Take it away, Tig…

    StrongHers Tig Hodson gives her thoughts

    In 2017, Nike was widely hailed across the Internet for becoming a trailblazer in inclusivity within the fitness space with their creation of a sport hijab for Muslim women. As one of the top and most influential companies in the fitness space, all eyes are on Nike when it comes to leading the way for trends, tactics and, now moreso than ever before, inclusivity. 

    Even though Nike’s product was not the first sport hijab for Muslim women ever created, one of the largest fitness companies in the world bringing the product into its range produced massive visibility for what should be prioritised next in the fitness industry.

    Nike further ensured that all consumers and businesses watching did not perceive this move as merely performative activism, soon releasing a promotional advertisement showcasing their sports hijab in action with women working out while wearing their product.

    This is one example of the way that some industry leaders have been paving the way for the fitness industry as a whole to re-examine what we consider inclusive and diverse. In an industry that has been historically represented by thin, white, cisgender, able-bodied individuals both in hiring and consumer-facing marketing practices, many companies are finally turning the page and finally reconsidering the consumers who are actually buying their products or services. Through this article, we hope to open up a dialogue about what other businesses in the fitness industry, and consumers of said businesses, believe are good practices to achieve better inclusivity and diversity.

    Increasing visibility of underrepresented communities

    Most brands have turned the page to realising their consumer base wants to see themselves represented in the brand in order to know that this brand stands by them and their identity -- that they are seen by this brand that they are spending their hard-earned money on.

    However, there is a thin line between being meaningfully inclusive of the communities that support your brand and tokenizing customers from certain backgrounds with the purpose of capitalising upon their community. It is essential to know how these customers want to see their communities represented, how they want to be supported by the brand, rather than thinking up the best possible way to capitalise upon a customer’s diverse background or identity.

    Start the conversation

    We shouldn’t be patting ourselves on the back for doing what should have been done long ago, but we should be celebrating moving towards a more inclusive and visibly diverse industry that is better representative of its consumers.

    In late 2020, GymShark Women posted a photo depicting a model with her armpit hair on display. This sparked a dialogue on social media, with many people discussing the importance of a major brand normalising body hair on women, especially in the context of workout gear.

    Women are often told that they need to be perfectly groomed in order to set foot in the gym, and unfortunately, having a fully shaved body often falls into the category of “grooming” in societal standards. Through posting this photo on a platform reaching over 3 million of their followers, GymShark proudly stood behind any and all women who choose to keep their armpit hair as it is and workout in a sleeveless top. They spoke directly to their community with a single post, and rather than hailing themselves for helping normalise something that should already be completely normal, they allowed social media to have that conversation for them and continued business as usual.

    As a womens-only gym based in East London that is still in its relatively early days, our brand StrongHer has a long path to go when it comes to appropriately representing our StrongHerd (a term we use to lovingly refer to our members). Making consistent, active efforts to more accurately represent and cater to those that keep our doors open is our number one priority, but we, and just about every other business, have a long way to go before we can fully call ourselves diverse and inclusive.

    Much like GymShark or Nike, we are far from perfect when it comes to being fully inclusive or as diverse as possible, but we are making strides towards becoming more inclusive and more diverse every day through holding ourselves to the standards of better representation we aim to see in the fitness industry as a whole.

    Inclusivity at Innermost

    Here at Innermost, like the team at StrongHer, feel incredibly strongly about being a truly inclusive brand. 

    We all have a part to play when it comes to starting conversations, supporting underrepresented communities and being a voice. It’s all about using our platform to do good, and we strive to do better and be better everyday when it comes to inclusivity.

    Product Spotlight

    Other Insights

    Discussing Truth & Transparency with Anj Magecha
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It took quite a while for me to recognise this but eventually I found myself in a place where I was tired of being constantly unhappy and knew something needed to change. It was at this point I decided to forget all the expectations I had previously put on myself and just do the things that made me happy, with the knowledge that everything else would fall into place. I began getting more into training and lifting and begun fuelling by body with protein powder and supplements such as the Power Booster. Now I feel happier and healthier than ever and want to help other people to achieve the same. View this post on Instagram A post shared by anj |mental health+fitness| (@grow.with.anj) Our campaign for January is truth and transparency. What do you think the importance of this is, particularly in relation to the health and wellness industry? There are so many health and wellness influencers who are not truthful and transparent in their journey, and it makes people feel like a failure when they aren't getting the results that are falsely promised to them. For example, there are people who've become millionaires, have massive brand deals and are living a life that most people could only dream of, all off the back of their fitness transformations. Everything about them just screams success and obviously people want to emulate this. But if those same people don’t disclose the full story people are never going to achieve this and they’ll feel like they’re the problem, because if someone else can do it, why can't you? Humans are quintessentially social creatures; we're always going to be comparing ourselves to one another even when we try to be mindful. So, it's so important to understand that you can save someone a lot of pain by just being honest. This is something that I used to get angry about, but now I know that anger will never be the solution and that you just need to be that other voice and hope that you can help as many people as possible. So, how do you try to be this voice of truth and transparency, particularly within the health and wellness space? I think it’s important to remember that to be entirely truthful and transparent about your journey you also need to be vulnerable enough to share the moments when it isn’t easy. Sharing these moments is infinitely more valuable than just showing the highlights because it makes us realise that we all go through them. However, in the health and wellness industry this isn’t the norm; people use photoshop and promote ‘fat burners’, and avoid any vulnerability, creating this pressure to conform. I think to break this cycle, we all need to be a little more vulnerable. Because whilst waking up at 5am and walking everywhere might make you feel happy and fulfilled, some people need 10 hours of sleep and sometimes you’ll want to sit in front of the TV and watch something mindless. This doesn’t make you a failure and by being honest with yourself about what truly makes you happy and portraying this in a vulnerable way you can help other people realise this too. As you mentioned, the space does currently have a lack of transparency, so how do you discern the truth from the myths? When it comes to fitness and nutrition, I always try to think about who the information is coming from. I hate being a cynic and I love to think that everyone has everyone else's best intentions at heart, but I think it’s important to consider what would this person have to gain if they weren't really telling me the entire story? Then you also need to consider what their credentials are. Are they a doctor or dietitian or are they just someone who looks good? It’s so important that you can know and trust your source of information. I also think, that there’s no one size fits all approach, and the most important source of information should be yourself. For example, I love chaos and I thrive under pressure, so taking five minutes to write affirmations down just doesn’t fit with me. It’s important to trust your own intuition and timing. If you can do both these things then when influencers promote low calorie diets in partnership with these big brands you can ask yourself, what are their credentials, what do they stand to gain and is this something that I think from my own experiences would work for me and make me happy? What is a truth that you've learned during your journey that you're passionate about and think that everyone should know? To get something you've never had you must do something you've never done. What I mean by this is that it's not your fault if something hasn't worked for you. A lot of people blame themselves for not sticking to diets and fitness regimes but if you didn’t stick to it, it’s not you that failed, it’s the diet/ fitness regime that failed. There's a reason why it was so difficult for you to stick to it; perhaps it was too restrictive and resulted in binge eating. Perhaps it was stopping you from enjoying meals out and living your life fully. The answer should never be to blame yourself. You just have to try something new. Create a meal plan which allows you to feel good without restricting yourself and cutting out whole food groups, try a sport you actually enjoy and keep trying new things until you find something that works. You’ll never get to a different destination by taking the same route over and over again. View this post on Instagram A post shared by anj (@anjmagecha) Finally, it feels very relevant to discuss this during January. There’s always this huge influx of mixed advice, myths, and fads at this time of year so what’s your opinions on this and particularly the idea of New Year New Me? I think it's utter rubbish (laughs). You don't need to change people. It's just January. The only changes you should ever make are the ones that genuinely make you happier and you can make these year-round. We all experienced this during lock-down too, there was this huge hustle culture and pressure to use lockdown to learn a new skill or achieve your dream body, and if you weren’t doing this, you were lazy. It made me feel rubbish and I know lots of other people felt the same. It’s so important to try to drown out the pressure and just focus of being in touch with what makes you come alive and what makes you happy. Shifting my focus from external validation to internal happiness is the most important change I made when transitioned from the miserable person I was, to the person I am today. Of course, in the spirit of transparency, not every day is a good day for me and some days I have identity crises and some days I break down. But that's all just part of the job. We’re all a work in progress and the sooner you can embrace all of this and focus on do what makes you happy on a daily basis instead of doing what you think should make you happy, it will open so many doors. To keep up with Anj, check out her Instagram and TikTok for more content on truths vs myths. Read more
    Celebrating the Good Times with Caitriona Hyatt
    Hi Caitriona! Give us the life story. Who are you, what do you do, and what are you passionate about? Hi! I'm Cait, I'm an Actress and Personal Trainer. I was born in Luxembourg but moved to England when I was 10. I'm super passionate about all things fitness and mental health. Having struggled with my own mental health in the past I love helping other people find what helps them the most. For me, it started off with spontaneously signing up for different fitness challenges. At Uni I went from not running at all to signing up for my first marathon and then signed up for a Half Ironman having never done a triathlon (go big or go home right?!). I've met so many inspirational people along the way who always keep me striving for more, and I want to be that person for others. Honestly, I think I was put on this earth to be the biggest cheerleader to everyone chasing goals (including myself of course) and that's what I now spend my days doing! I'm the Master Trainer at F45 Shepherds Bush, I coach at Evolve353 and I'm now hosting the NEW Innermost HIIT and Run Club, which I can't wait to see expand and succeed.  Fitness changed my life by surrounding me with insanely wonderful people and I love helping others find their tribe.  View this post on Instagram A post shared by Caitríona Hyatt (@caitrionahyatt) What’s your favourite celebration; Birthdays, Christmas, Pancake Day?  Absolutely 100% Christmas! I'm a massive family girl and Christmas is the one time of year it's almost guaranteed that my whole family will be together (I'm one of four siblings so it doesn't happen very often)! For me, you honestly can't beat time spent with my crazy family.  What do the holidays mean to you and how will you be celebrating now that restrictions are lifted? Holidays for me mean switched off, uninterrupted time with friends or family. It doesn't matter what I'm doing as long as I'm surrounded by the people I love. I really cherish those moments.  I don't think much will change for me if I'm honest. Last year I spent most of my time off either reading in the same room as my brother or sister, knitting with my mum in front of a movie (yes I am a grandma), or forcing people to do team workouts with me! It'll basically be the same this year but extra special as my Oma will be able to join in (she couldn't travel from Switzerland last year) and I haven't seen her in 2 years! What’s the best way to celebrate big wins; raves, rom coms, reps or none of the above?  Take away every opinion of what you think other people might think and do exactly what makes your heart sing. If you've accomplished something big, a) that is incredible!! and b) you should reward yourself with YOUR favourite things to do. Whether that's stay in and order a takeaway, going for a run or going on a massive night out there's no 'right way' to celebrate as long as it's what YOU want.  How do you make celebration a daily practice and also celebrate small wins? I won't lie, I still catch myself overlooking the small wins. It's hard when everything around you seems to move at the speed of light and there are constant comparisons to other people, whether that be over social media or even just in your friend group. It might be hard, but taking a step back to appreciate every small thing you've accomplished is so important. When I can, I try and make lists of all of my small wins and also what helped me get there. I've been writing gratitude lists for years, so I try and combine them so I can really appreciate how much I've achieved - even if I didn't realise it at first! View this post on Instagram A post shared by Caitríona Hyatt (@caitrionahyatt) Use this space to celebrate some of the people in your life! I am so thankful to be surrounded by so many incredible people. But the most important ones who keep me going on a daily basis are; My family (obviously). They are so supportive, caring, absolute nutters, and just all-around great human beings who've never doubted my ability or let me doubt it.  My best friends Amy and Chris. I haven't seen either of them in ages because they're out there taking over the world but they are my soulmates.  My Crossfit girls. Sarah, Lou, Georgie, Celeste, Rach, Anna and Joey. They single-handedly kept me sane through lockdown and they make me feel like I could rule the world (while simultaneously achieving incredible things themselves every single day). Everyone needs friends like these. Sophie. She's in Spain now (moved during the pandemic because she's a badass), and even though she's not in the same country I don't think anyone else would bother listening to my 15 minute voice notes when I'm lying on a rug and need to get something off my chest and it means the world to me.  What are you celebrating as this year comes to an end? (An achievement, your health, new beginnings) How lucky I am to be healthy and be surrounded by such incredible human beings. I've not had the best relationship with my body in the past and it's caused a few very hard years. Now I celebrate it every chance I get. This year has been a tough one and my body has allowed me to do SO much regardless - getting through lockdown, starting a new job, competing in my first fitness competitions, and endless other things. And I've had unwavering support every step of the way. That's something that should never be overlooked!     That's a wrap, thanks Cait! Be sure to follow @caitrionahyatt to keep up with Cait's adventures. Read more