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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

    On Resolutions And Staying Authentic With Anj Magecha
    We sat down with Innermost Insider and mindful wellness advocate Anj Magecha, who shares how she stays on track with new goals and habits whilst remaining true to herself, and what to do when faced with setbacks. Hey Anj! Can you introduce yourself to our readers? Hey everyone, I’m Anj! I’m a 24 year old wellness geek working in consulting. I’m all about navigating life in London, trying to find a balance in my approach to nutrition, exercise and socialising, and improving my mental health and personal development 1% at a time. (And hopefully helping other people do the same!)  How did you become an Innermost Insider and what’s your goal as an ambassador for the brand? I’ve been a Innermost user since I joined F45 TCR in 2018, I was new to the gym, vegan, and in need of some serious protein intake to pack on muscle— at a time where most vegan protein powders were a bit rubbish! I also run on caffeine and hate coffee so got hooked on the pre-workout to fuel going to the gym, uni, working at lululemon and a busy social life!  I joined the Insider program as soon as I was able to, and have seen so much growth for the brand since then! I love all the extra merch, the sweatshirt and duffel are essential - so would love to see more of my go to gym bag essentials become Innermost 👀 Our topic this month is resolution. How would you personally define resolution and has it been a pivotal part of your life?  Resolution means taking control of your own life and making conscious choices that lead you towards the often intangible ‘better’. It's about having the determination and drive to create the future you want for yourself, and accepting the task of navigating the challenges that come your way. To me, resolution is about being true to myself and living with purpose. 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It helps you focus on what matters most It keeps you accountable It allows for flexibility It helps you make progress faster Do you ever struggling with sticking to your goals and resolutions? How do you overcome setbacks? Overcoming setbacks in pursuit of your goals can be tough, but it's also an essential part of the journey towards success. Every challenge and obstacle presents an opportunity to learn, grow, and become stronger. I am a very emotionally driven person, when I get sad or anxious or I’m face with a negative life event, my goals are quite easily derailed. So for me it’s important to allow myself time to recuperate after a major setback, as it can be emotionally and physically draining to deal with challenges and obstacles. Taking a break to rest and recharge helps refocus and regain energy and motivation.I practice self-compassion and am not afraid to reach out for support when things feel overwhelming. I’m also a strong believer in setting boundaries for myself to protect my time and energy. Naturally some setbacks are less personal, things like the pandemic or tube strikes. In those cases I try to keep things in perspective: an old manager at lululemon used to say, at the end of the day, it’s just black stretchy pants and I apply that thinking to most areas of my life. Don't let setbacks define who you are or what you're capable of. Instead, use them as an opportunity to learn and grow. Are there certain times where you feel more motivated to set goals or resolutions? Naturally times like birthdays and new years have loads of messaging around goals and time passing, but in my experience I find birthday goals and new years goals are just that. They exist until I feel less festive and then things get difficult. I find the goals that come to me in the other 75% of the year are actually more in line with what makes me feel happy and healthy. The 12 week year method really helps facilitate this for me. Furthermore according to a study published in the journal Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, people are more likely to succeed in their goals when they start working towards them immediately, rather than waiting for a specific time (like the new year) to begin. When we set a goal, we often have a burst of motivation and energy that can drive us to take initial steps towards achieving it. By waiting to start working on our goals, we risk losing that initial motivation and energy, which can make it harder to get started. So why wait for the new year to make changes that will make you happy? What advice would you give to others about setting goals and resolutions for the future? Check in with yourself to make sure your goals are your own and not what you think people expect from you. And don’t be afraid to set goals that people aren’t going to see happen, there have been points in my life where my goal has been to get out of bed every day for a week and they were probably more difficult and transformative than any weight loss or fitness goal I’ve set for myself.  Do you have any important personal resolutions for the next year? I have some goals from my previous 12 week cycle, including the turf games in summer 2023 hopefully, which naturally lends itself to some commitments around training style and frequency.  I think saying no more often is a big one for me. Not to everything by any means but I do a lot of things that I think I ‘should’ do and I usually go in eyes wide open knowing it’ll leave me not feeling great. So hopefully this year I’ll have the resolve to just say no straight off the bat!  That's a wrap! To keep up with Anj, check out her Instagram and TikTok. Read more
    How To Keep Life In Balance With Izzy Hill
    We sat down again with Innermost Insider Izzy Hill, who gave us the lowdown on all things 'balance'. Balanced diets, why it's important to keep life in balance (and how she does so), and her advice on what to do when maintaining balance seems impossible. Hey Izzy! Could you introduce yourself to our readers? Hey, I’m Izzy, I’m 22 years old and live in London. I work a 9-5 job in the city and in my free time, I love to socialise and be active. Throughout my school years, I was fortunate enough to have plenty of opportunities that strengthened my love for sport. Competing nationally in athletics and cross country, I was also a part of the school hockey and netball team. I went on to study at Nottingham Trent University, where my passion for fitness grew stronger, as I was a part of the hockey team and finding my feet as I began my ‘gym’ journey. As I got stronger, I soon became passionate about sharing my journey with others, setting up my fitness account in February 2021. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Izzy Hill (@izzyhillfit) How did you become an Innermost Insider and what’s your goal as an ambassador for the brand? Having studied Fashion Marketing at university, coincidentally, I actually applied for a marketing role at Innermost… unsuccessful at the time ha ha. Anyway, as a couple of months past and I focused on my fitness account whilst trying to find a full time job in London, I was contacted by Innermost via my Instagram account and the rest is history! I want to thank Innermost for all the opportunities I’ve had working with them, as an insider, I feel valued and that doesn’t go unnoticed. I originally applied for a marketing role at Innermost because I aligned with their brand values, and this still stands today. As an insider, I try to authentically share the wonderful and tasty products Innermost offer, along with the supportive community. I suppose my overall goal is to make as many others love the products and brand as much as I do! Our topic of the month is balance. Why do you think balance is important in life? I always like to remind myself that we have so many different aspects to life. A hobby, family, friends, work etc and without balance, how can you manage all those different aspects without balance? How do you personally balance your lifestyle?  As I work a 9-5 job, this takes up most of my time, and as we all know, this can involve very little movement… After work, I head to the gym and workout most evenings. I know that I will always feel better for doing something rather than nothing. Towards the weekend, I make sure I make weekend plans outside of working and exercising to fulfil a balanced lifestyle. How do you find balance in your diet? When it comes to my diet, I’m not too strict on myself, but don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between my weekly diet compared to my weekend diet. This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t eat chocolate or office doughnuts in the week though! On weekdays my main goal is to eat 3 healthy and high protein meals per day, whereas at the weekend, I’m more flexible with what I eat as I’ll be likely to go out for dinner, for example. I think its important to have a goal there with what you eat to help you achieve your wider goals, but I don’t believe the best way to do this is by restricting yourself from eating something if you want to. Are there things in life you struggle to find balance with? I think I reiterate what I said before here, life is made up of different aspects and it’s important to enjoy all of them. Exercising after work does sometimes have its downside; less time to enjoy for yourself, sometimes rejecting after work socials, but it’s something I make up for at the weekend. Since fitness and being active is a priority to me, I remind myself of that and know it’ll be worth it in the long run. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Izzy Hill (@izzyhillfit) How do you find balance when reaching your fitness goals? I always remind myself that reaching my goals isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s a journey, and that journey may not always be linear. I ensure I have a strong balance by allowing myself to enjoy all aspects of life, not confine myself to just achieving fitness goals. I believe it’s important to be aware that sticking to strict daily fitness goals may mean you reach goals quicker, however, I appreciate that I can still achieve those goals whilst going out and having fun too. What advice would you give to others who struggle to balance a busy lifestyle? Don’t get overwhelmed, you’re doing your best  In today’s life, it’s easy to compare yourself with others, perhaps you’ve just seen someone get up at 5am to complete a workout or someone’s just ran a 10k and you’ve only done 5k steps… Realign that focus and put it on yourself.  Be selective with your time  I think a huge factor in balancing a busy lifestyle is using your free time wisely. Rule out the time that you don’t have control over, i.e. work, travelling to work etc. and with the left over time, make sure you’re allocating what matters to you in that time, exercising, self care… But make sure you still have at least 8 hours of sleep! Set targets, not expectations.  What Innermost product(s) have you been loving recently? My absolute go to has to be The Lean Protein in Vanilla, and I won’t stop talking about it… This protein is creamy, tasty and the science-backed ingredients make me love it even more. With protein, I’ve always struggled to find one that doesn’t have a grainy texture and one I can add to other foods, like porridge and actually enjoy it… this is the one. The Digest Capsules are the capsules I didn’t know I needed, whenever I’ve had a heavy weekend or my stomach is playing up, I can always rely on them to help me out. Can’t forget about the water bottle and gym duffel bag I use on the daily too! View this post on Instagram A post shared by Izzy Hill (@izzyhillfit) Izzy, 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?  Well, since we’re almost at the end of this year, I’ve had a lot of self-made achievements and goals fulfilled this year. I want to continue to grow, learn and educate as I evolve my fitness journey! That's a wrap! To keep up with Izzy, follow her on Instagram, @izzyhillfit. Read more