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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

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    Learning To Relax And Unwind With Georgia Mitchell
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    Finding Your Energy, Within and Beyond, With Mila Castro Larocca
    We sat down with wellness fanatic and Innermost Insider Mila Castro Larocca, who gave us the lowdown on all things energy: how she finds hers within, the help she gets from her daily routine, and the role nutrition plays in staying energised. Read to the end to find out which Innermost products keep her on track! Hey Mila! Could you introduce yourself to our readers? Hola! My name is Milagros, and I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina but I have been lucky enough to be living, experiencing, and understanding an extensive range of cultures and countries around the world. I have now been based in Denmark for 6.5 years (and yup, still can’t get use to the cold weather) working in the sustainable fashion business, raising the bar for how the industry works and focusing on clothes made responsibly, transparently, and that stand for a greater purpose. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Milagros Castro Larocca (@milacastrolarocca) How did you become an Innermost Insider and what’s your goal as an ambassador for the brand? I got introduced to the brand by a colleague and fell in love with it all, the colours, natural (and few) ingredients, simplicity and no bullshit approach. My goal as an Ambassador is to always keep it real while promoting a healthy lifestyle where you start with your inner self. In a SoMe era where everyone is constantly needing attention and validation I’m more concerned about making others feel good about themselves rather than making them feel good about me. I truly believe that if you get your inside right, the outside will always fall into place and that’s the energy I want to spread. Our topic this month is energy. Where do you find your daily energy and motivation?  Energy is absolutely everything in my life! Generating, protecting and spreading it. My number one energy-charger is my sleep. If I don’t get my 7-8 hours of sleep, I’d not only be very low in energy but also not have the best beginning of the day. Mornings are KEY for me; they're where I build my energy for the rest of the day - starting very early and quietly, not touching my phone for 30 min/1h, short meditation or breath work, breakfast and work out before biking to work. By 9 o’clock I’ve already spent 3 hours by and for myself and that’s what allows me to be the best version of myself. Being the ‘reason’ someone feels welcome, seen, heard, valued, loved & supported is my biggest motivation. How do you get energised for your workouts? I work out mostly early in the morning since by the afternoon my energy starts dropping. I can’t start an early morning workout with an empty stomach so a banana or vegan yoghurt with some fruit it’s always my best energy booster. I’ve always being skeptical about pre-workouts since I already have lots of energy and don’t even like coffee, nor the feeling of it. 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Eating plant-based, avoiding added sugars, mostly organic and less processed as possible, has a very positive impact not only on my body energy levels but also in my mind. Are there certain times of the day/month/year where you struggle with energy? This would have been a more difficult one to answer if I didn’t live in a Nordic country but the answer is WINTER. Living in Denmark also means very short days and the lack of sunlight can affect your energy more than what you can imagine, trust me.  Do you find yourself lacking energy? If so when and how do you overcome this? People can be one of my biggest energizers but also my biggest energy drainers.  It can be very difficult to maintain your energy the way you want it to be when someone is trying to draw you into the storm. You hear them, you feel them but at the same time you let the tension be theirs and you let your peace be yours. 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Feels like a natural and effective cleanse while tasting great. The Digest Capsules have been a miracle! I’ve only been taking them for a week and can already feel the difference in my bloating after the first capsule. I seriously can’t wait to try all the other ranges! Mila, it’s been a pleasure chatting to you! Our final question is ... What’s your innermost desire that you’re hoping comes true this year? Mhmmm… I’m definitely a dreamer and desire lots of things for our Planet, the people in it and also myself but since there are only 3 months left from this year I would just like to be grateful instead; for everything I have learned, changed and achieved but most importantly, for everyone I have by my side and everything I am. That's a wrap! To keep up with Mila and her energy, follow her on Instagram, @milacastrolarocca. Read more