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We’re moving away from the days where you scroll down your Instagram timelines and see fitness instructors who are like bodybuilders. Muscles protruding from every crevice of their body. The look and feel of healthy living is shifting and becoming more inclusive, no matter the age or body type.
One organization that is a part of changing the narrative is Melanin Fitspiration. Kayla Johnson and her business partner, Marcus, launched the Instagram page in 2016, in hopes of erasing the stigma attached to getting fit.
Johnson is a graduate of the University of Illinois. During an interview with TheGrio, Johnson said she created the page after noticing the lack of minority students using the school gym.
“When we first started, people would reach out to us and tell us they don’t feel comfortable going to the gym for various reasons,” she explained. “Gyms are kind of like the gatekeepers to fitness. We wanted to tear down that wall and show Black and Brown bodies that they can workout at home, without having to go to a gym or any other space they don’t feel comfortable occupying.”
For a workout to be featured on the page, it must be at-home friendly. The majority of their content comes from fitness influencers from around the U.S, ranging from beginner workouts to advanced. The backdrop for each post varies from parks, to swimming pools, outdoor tracks, and gyms.
Johnson and Marcus say their page of now 210,000 followers isn’t popular because of the workouts, but more so who’s doing them. They focus on building self-esteem by creating content that inspires and encourages our culture to reach their fitness goals.
“The fitness industry has this certain body type, and it’s not a plus size, curvy body. We wanted to have a representation of the women in our lives,” Johnson continued.. “It was very important for us to go through our DMs and find the content from fitness influencers who are plus size or who are older. We want people’s mothers working out, we want peoples aunties working out. The best way to get their attention is to show someone who looks just like them working out.”
While women dominate the page with creative content, Melanin Fitspiration is aimed to inspire all people of color.
“So our audience is 80% female, last I checked. Black women are the main culture creators. They’re the driving force for what’s popular right now. But we’re definitely not only for women. We want our whole community, both male and female, to benefit from this,” Marcus explained.
Melanin Fitspiration wants to paint a clearer picture of what it means to be “fit.” It doesn’t stop at physical appearance. The goal is to emoblden followers to make wiser decisions in all aspects of their well-being.
“We want our community to start being more proactive with their health. With the pandemic, we’re the main ones who are dying from it unfortunately. A lot of the academic studies I’ve been reading point to a lack of physical fitness through diet and lifestyle choices.”
Soon, Melanin Fitspiration will have a reach expanding far beyond Instagram. In the coming months they will launch a health and wellness blog on the company website. They’re also in talks of expanding Melanin Fitspiration to YouTube.
Learn more about Melanin Fitspiration here.
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