Creating an Anti-Racist Fitness Industry

Black Lives Matter. 

After the book is done, the webinar is over, you go through 1 course, and the pandemic fades away, will you go back to what is comfortable? Some systems will change but most of them will go unchallenged once everyone realizes it’s a long road ahead to dismantle centuries of racism.

I can’t go back to normal. There is no going back to normal. It’s time to be the change. 

As an industry we are supposed to care about people’s health. In the past we’ve cared about health without politics and changing the systems, we just care about people’s health as long as they could afford $400-1000 a month. That means we’ve only been caring about a selection of people.

Most of the health, fitness, and rehab industry are not into politics. This can often be coming from a place of privilege in that a majority of the industry’s life is not affected by not worrying about politics. There are people in our industry who ARE affected. We need to understand that we have peers and clients who don’t have that choice to ignore what goes on in society.

As an industry, do you ever wonder why you have the clients you have? Have you done a breakdown of how many white, how many black, how many people of color? What about your peers and your leaders? Where are all the Black trainers? Where are all the Black speakers? Where are all the Black people in pictures when I google “Fitness industry”? They exist, but they’re never the first name we think of, or the first course we buy, or the first seminar we travel to attend.

Why does this industry not cater to everyone? 

Can we take all this anger and shock and turn into action? There is so much momentum all over the world, our friends and peers are coming onboard in the anti-racism social media movement. Don’t you want to see all of this work and emotion we’ve been learning to experience become something that impacts change everywhere?

I do…and I’m not alone in this. Neither are you. 

We’ve created a group that is putting its foot in the door, letting the fitness industry know we’re not going back to silence. It’s a Facebook group dedicated to collaborative learning about social justice and racial equality. The organizers (Keeler and I) are not the teachers. We see our role as peer organizers, students, activists, and connectors. 

In this group we will: 

–       Elevate the voices of Black people in the industry. We’ll get to hear their stories and see what they want to see change. We will have a face, a story, and real feelings when we ask ourselves “What will happen if we choose not to act?”.

–       Get connected to other activist’s documentaries, courses, books, and supportive material. 

–       Curate meaningful content to help each of us become anti-racist 

–       Read and discuss books together, beginning with The Racial Healing Handbook

–       Discuss actionable strategies for overcoming bias and oppression in our business and our industry 

–       Support one another in a safe space where you can stumble and grow without judgment. 

This industry’s foundation isn’t putting everyone in a position to be the best that they can be. There is so much untapped potential that we are not supporting. 

We’re not going back to a fitness industry who only cares about those who can afford an expensive gym membership. We’re not going back to “stay out of politics”. We’re not going back to staying silent when one of our own needs our loud voices/actions. 

We want an industry where everyone can look at the people at the top and feel represented, heard, understood, and cared for. Where everyone feels like they matter and people like them deserve a seat at the table.

If we can mandate anti-racism, we are progressing the industry in a way that is greater than just one person. That’s why we’re here, right?

The health and fitness industry can hold a lot of power over how things are done in our world. If we can help dismantle a white supremacist society, we can hold our politicians accountable to having everyone’s health in their best interest. 

Please join us and help us hold this industry accountable to long lasting change.

It’s starts with Black Lives Matter.

A Better Industry For Everyone- FFA Talk

Is it important to see people like you in a position of influence? Is it really that important for people who don’t look like you to feel represented in this industry?


Can we acknowledge we have a problem and voice our concerns about our industry’s leaders without creating an “us vs them“?


I took this quote from White Fragility and changed “political system” to “fitness industry”

“The Identities of those sitting at the table of power in this fitness industry have remained remarkable similar: white, male, middle- and upper-class, able-bodied. 

The decisions made at those tables affect the lives of those not at the tables. 

Exclusion by those at the table doesn’t depend on willful intent; We don’t have to intend to exclude for the results of our actions to be exclusion. While implicit bias is always at play because all human have bias, inequity can occur simply through homogeneity; If I am not aware of the barriers you face, then I won’t see them, much less be motivated to remove them.”

White Fragility- Robin Diangelo

An industry who doesn’t represent everyone leaves people not feeling heard or understood.

A better industry for everyone means it’s one where everyone feels represented. It’s important to look at people at the top and see those who share your race, sexual orientation, culture, struggles, fears, past experiences….etc

During my FFA talk, I share my own struggles to show anyone who is dealing with mental illness knows, they’re being represented.

When we join the industry we are sold solutions to help people achieve their health and fitness goals, and the illusion that it will be easy. Never once were we told our industry doesn’t actually help everyone and makes it safe for all people to be a part of it.

Never once were we told our industry doesn’t actually help everyone and makes it safe for all people to be a part of it. We’re not told how complex the human body is, and how many factors out of our control will impact our client’s ability to be healthy.

We’re all put in a lose-lose situation.

What we expect clients to do and what they expect us to be able to help them with, are all based on a faulty foundation that our industry created.

To add to the losing situation, we’re unable to have difficult conversation to make meaningful change in this industry. We back off at the first sign of discomfort and then nothing changes.

We no longer talk about how racial inequality can be affecting your clients.

We no longer talk about how trauma can be affecting your clients.

We no longer talk about how mental illness can be affecting your clients.

We no longer talk about how autoimmune disease is affecting your clients.

We no longer can talk about how we should all change our approach to dealing with clients and we continue with the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.

If you’re in the industry to make people healthy, we have to talk about race inequality, different sexual orientations, periods, poop, trauma, mental illness, autoimmune disease…etc

It has to get messy and uncomfortable.

We tell clients to get out of their comfort zone and just push through challenging times (training sessions). It’s time for us to do the same.

Want to start making this industry a better place for everyone? Watch my presentation I did for the Female Fitness Alliance! Below you’ll see the intro.

(For the whole talk CLICK HERE. It’s password protective! To retrieve the password, subscribe to my newsletter or check the email sent from FFA)

(To catch the rest of the talks LIVE and receive access, Sign up here)

This presentation will challenge you to redefine what it means to be in this industry and show you all the opportunities you have to make this industry a better place for everyone. 

When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Which means I can’t do this alone. The goal here is not just to get my perspective of how this industry can be better. I got my long list, but the true goal is to push you to look for other’s as well. during my talk I asked people to answered “Why is representation from people on top important?”

Here are their answers <3

Helps to guarantee authenticity


Reciprocity. Sense of belonging/worthiness


Because no one benefits when they feel alone


It is important because you know you’re not alone, connecting, and growth


To normalize imperfections


The influencers pour into the people that follow them and either validate or invalidate them


It is important because there is no one size fits all


People follow those who lead by example


Because I learn best what I can do and what I’m capable of and more importantly HOW to do things, but learning from others and realizing that I too can do that too


There is someone you can trust and look up to


Make success feel attainable


Show everyone that they are capable


We want to feel equal and like our goal is attainable, so seeing like you is comforting and reassuring


Connection, relatability


Because they are role models and we strive to become like them.


Because when you are dealing with mental illness you need to know that you can reach out to the top and be heard and not judged. Feel free to ask questions and lean in a space of respect


Different ideas and walks of life are voiced


Normalization and connection


Be an inspiration for those you seek for it!


Everyone’s story is valid and worthy of sharing


Knowing there are many paths to sucess


Give guidance and direction when feeling lost or confused with to many options


I think that it’s important to have representation because it’s taken me approx. 30 years to recognize that my imposter syndrome held me back and that if I had a strong powerful women to look up at as a young woman, then I wouldn’t have taken so much time to try to be someone else.


They influence the thoughts and beliefs of those learning and following


What we see everyday/repeatedly influences what we understand as “normal”. And if “success” doesn’t “normally” look like me, then trying to achieve it immediately feels outside of what I should strive for. Living outside of the “shoulds” brings about immense shame and guilt.


It changes lives. Gives hope and inspiration. A sense of connection. I can do this too. I am not alone. Representation is SO IMPORTANT.


Knowing that what is the conceived “normal” doesn’t limit your own capabilities


People with my background and ethnicity can also be seen as a professional and what we have to say matters


Knowing you’re not the first person to experience something


Fewer social, political, and economic issues will be overlooked if more diversity of people are represented at the top.


 I think representation from people at the top is important because people at the top set the tone for the industry. For example, in the past, the tone has been “white cis men” can be successful coaches. Same goes for body shapes.


Representation matters because trainers come from all types of backgrounds and so do our clients. We need different voices in the room in order to serve as many people as possible.


If you can see it, you can be it.

There’s hope that people who look like you can understand your experience and stand for those issues.


Feeling like we’re supposed to have ALL the answers—especially regarding nutrition and ‘fast fat loss’ lately


Not everyone is the same, having diversity is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Similar to what you’re saying, knowing you’re not alone and having others to connect with that share your stories, because not every story is the same, but we share similarities


It shows they are the same as us


Programming Considerations

What is your thought process when writing someone a program?

When I write a program I can visualize that specific client go through it and make predictions on how they will do it and what they will struggle with.

To me, a lot of my programming choices are driven by experience and intuition. When that is a huge part of my decision making, how can I write a programming protocol that can be recreated?

Recreated by someone who doesn’t have my reps.

Thanks to Levi, I’ve been pushed to think this way and I’ve started to systematize my thought process.

This video shows my first time thinking out loud on my decision making and it completely automatic as this point.

After this call I created an on-boarding protocol that helps collect information (objective as possible with measurements) that would address the concepts talked about in the zoom call. As I go through more consults, I’ll start implementing and working out the kinks.

It’s in the works.

Thanks to Levi it will eventually get there. If you don’t follow Levi, you should. Literally all my future of content, workshop, certification???, you can assume Levi had a major influence.

The skillset he has on the ability to educate others is exactly what this industry needs. Because it’s failing a lot of people.

The fact that we all take the same courses but a small percentage are actually successful with the things we learn, is a huge problem! It’s a teachers problem. Well, unless you’re one of those who text the whole time. In that case, that’s 100% your fault. Stop being that person.

A lot of fitness professionals didn’t learn the necessary skills that are required to be a good teacher ( like ME!). When they’r good at what they do, they end up showing/presenting to fitness professionals WHAT they do. However, they can’t seem to get people to learn it in a way they would get to the same/similar conclusion/decisions on their own. THAT is real education.

So for now, enjoy the video on programing. More will come later on how we can change the way we educate personal trainers 🙂


Our Ideal Client

I sat down to write our Client of the Month’s description which should be about a paragraph long, but it ended up being TWO PAGES long.

What I wrote about this client mirrors how we feel towards all of our clients. Especially during our recent transitions and future plans for Enhancing Life and Holistic Fitness Connector (changing my name soon BTW. I just have to get my shit together).

I wanted to share what I wrote because as a consumer of my blog, you should also be thankful for my clients because HFC would not be possible without their support <3


Owning your own business pushes you to learn about marketing. Marketing tactics across multiple industries put a huge emphasis on finding your “target market” and learning how to speak to them. 

Target Market could be described as your “Ideal client”. If you were to wave a magic wand, what kind of client would you want at your business?

At Enhancing Life, we came up with ours and embraced the idea that not everyone would be onboard with our unconventional way of thinking. Especially since not all gyms promote the same message. 

Learning about our “ideal client” is probably one of the best things we ever did. 

It’s an amazing feeling going into work being surrounded by our target market. It seems the people who join our community, were made for us, just as much as Enhancing Life was made for them. 

That’s how we felt when Jocelyn joined Enhancing Life earlier this year. She is October’s Client of the Month! 

Our appreciation towards her mirrors how we feel towards our diverse gym community. 

The change in the fitness industry we’re pushing for is not easy. We push for the unsexy, hard to sale, slow, messy, filled with setbacks and uncertainties, sustainable approach to health. 

WOOOO uncertainties, set-backs, meditation, and vegetables! – Said no one ever

Read More

Beyond the Client’s Structural Diagnosis

When it comes to pain, people are always searching for answers.

Some answers are easier to believe than others.

That’s why I’m not surprised when clients come in believing their structure diagnosis is the cause of all their pain. Blaming what they found on a scan is easy for people to wrap their heads around, and it’s often perpetuated by the medical community.

Medical professionals have major leverage on the beliefs and attitudes clients adopt when it comes to how they perceive themselves and their pain.

These beliefs can get in the way of clients progressing at the gym.

It can lead to them having catastrophic thoughts, feeling hopeless, and constantly blaming their body and victimizing themselves.

Strong held beliefs are hard to to change if you’re a fitness professional. You’re at a disadvantage compared to professionals with more letters behind your name.

The two maladaptive beliefs I run into the most with persistent pain clients are:

Read More

No Client Left Behind

Have you ever had clients come in and they can’t seem to do anything without hurting and/or flaring up the next day? 

Not even a handful of exercises. 

Normally, these are the people who scare coaches into turning them away or referring them to a PT. 

But we must ask ourselves: Why do we refer out? 

The real reason trainers refer out should be to get the bad things ruled out; and with these people, the bad things usually have been ruled out. 

I’ve never had a client come in who hadn’t already been cleared to exercise. These clients already have been to PT; maybe even to multiple PTs. They might even be encouraged to exercise by a PT and/or their pain doc. 

The green light to exercise is there, and we just have to figure out how to meet them where they’re at. That’s what many coaches are unable to do. 

Here are the three things these people go through that we as an industry need to stop doing:

1) They Get a Cop-out Referral

I’m okay with “I work closely with a PT in town whom I think would help you find moves that don’t bother you and would help me design a program for you.”

A cop-out referral means you give them zero direction. 

“You should see a physical therapist.”

If they’ve already been to multiple PTs, they might not even go to another one; they’ll just go home.  Feeling hopeless and defeated that they couldn’t even do ONE exercise without flaring up. And you’re patting yourself on the back thinking you just did a good thing when in reality, you perpetuated this person’s fragile mindset. 

Not all referrals are equal. Not all PTs will be the expert this person needs. Not all coaches have Bill Hartman next door to deal with complicated cases.

In some cases, a trainer who understands pain, has good coaching skills, and follows a multi-model approach is the best option for these people.

2) They Get Treated Like Glass

 A cop-out referral might lead to them finding a trainer and/or physical therapist who validate their perception of themselves, which is fragile mindset, and they’re treated like that forever. 

These people never pick up weights heavier than five pounds, their training involves core and balancing exercises, and they never progress from there.  

3) They Are Told to Suck It Up

I’ve heard trainers get frustrated with these people and they’ve said things like “Well, you’ll always feel pain, so you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, so you might as well just lift weights and deal with it.”

Or they say things like “Research just shows you need to get stronger”, and even though that statement holds some truth to it, it doesn’t mean shit when it’s said to clients who don’t trust you and perceive themselves as someone who can’t handle a lot of physical activity. 

Telling people in pain to suck it up and exercise doesn’t go well. 

Just look at these comments from people IN pain who watched a video on how exercise might be the best thing for them.

As an industry, we can do better when dealing with this population. We can do better at understanding how these people’s past experiences and beliefs validate their present perceptions and views of themselves. We can do better at meeting these people where they’re at, and progress them from there. 

The lack of information in the fitness industry on pain science combined with the ego and old-school mentality in the medical community have left these people behind with no help.

But I’m here to change that. 😊 

For today’s blog, I’ll show you what has worked for us by taking you through two clients who couldn’t do more than a handful of activities when they first started out but now are lifting weights just like our pain-free general pop clients.

If you’re interested in learning the training model that helps us train these people, CLICK HERE to save your spot at our next seminar! You’ll learn how to have consistency throughout your coaching which is what these people need to progress 🙂

Until next time!


Our Current Squat Progressions

I had a long post on Deadlifts published few weeks ago where I talked about why I don’t introduce them right away.

Squats on the other hand, get introduced after 1-2 sessions. Today I’ll be sharing with you our current squat progressions that we use at Enhancing Life.

These progressions take you through four phases:

1) Phase One: Increasing movement option

The first three progressions are not technically squats. See these activities as exercises to help your clients gain access to motions that are required for someone to have a good looking squat.

One of the biggest issues you’ll see when people squat is, they’ll hinge back vs going straight down.

Hingy Squat:

Squatty Squat:

The first three progressions will help your clients tuck their hips, stack the rib cage on top of them, and maintain that position as they descend down (like the second picture above).

If your clients can’t do this or don’t have access to that motion, it doesn’t matter how many cues you use, or how many times you show them what to do, they won’t be able to do it.

Our current favorite activities to open up our client’s movement options are the following three moves:


90/90 Bridge

Rockback Breathing

2) Phase Two: Owning the Position

This stage will help your clients OWN the position you want them to maintain. No movement, just holding. For someone who is extremely unaware of their body and doesn’t take cues well (most of your clients), ISO holds are great to teach them how to own the position you’re wanting them to keep for when you progress and add movement to the lift.

This is perfect for group/semi-private training! You should be able to walk away from this exercise once you’ve put them in the position that’s desirable.

Assisted Squat Hold (Ramp)

(why elevate the heels??)

3) Phase Three: Adding Movement

Your job as a coach has never been easier. All you have to do now is add movement to the position they’ve already mastered by doing the ISO hold.

Assisted Squat (Ramp/to box)

4) Phase Four: Add Load

Can you imagine getting to loading a squat and all you have to do is “Hey, keep doing what you’ve been doing, but hold this weight” and that’s it!

I’m all about making my job easy, keeping the coaching quality high, AND being able to manage multiple people at once.

Goblet Squat (ramp/to box)

KB Front Squat (Ramp)

Zercher Squat (Ramp)

Safety Bar Squat (Ramp)

DB Squat on Ramp

TB Squat on Ramp

There you have it. Our current squat progressions at Enhancing Life.

What about all the ways clients will mess up?!

Now I know you’re wondering…. So how do I implement this? How fast does someone get through the list? How many reps? How many sets? Do all clients need to go through all the phases? How does the actual program look like? What about coaching?! I suck at coaching! I can’t even get my clients in a correct 90/90 without them looking at me like I’m wasting their time.

I’ve got some good news for you 🙂

On Wednesday, I will be sending all my newsletter subscribers the answer to all of those questions….except for the last part. I can’t teach you how to coach through the internet, but I do have a solution to that part that I will share at the end of this blog.

On Wednesday I will be taking you through three different clients’ timelines. I’ll talk about what variations I start with, how it’s implemented in their program, and how long they stay with each phase.

My goal is to give you AS MUCH context as possible to help you with the clients you work with.

Client A:

Your regular general pop client who is fairly active outside of the gym. They’re not scared of the idea of lifting weights and they’re ready to get after it.

With these people, I’ll show you how to get them to buy into the basics.

Client B:

Deconditioned client who is not very active outside of the gym. They’re scared of lifting weights and they’re really wanting to lift weights.

With these people, I’ll show you how to use the basics to get them to buy into lifting 😉

Client C:

Deconditioned client who is not very active outside of the gym. They’re scared of lifting weights and they’re not wanting to lift weights. They are unable to progress due to outside factors that as a coach you cannot control….but you still have to train them.

With these people, I’ll show you how you can continue to train them, even though there are other things outside of your gym that are preventing them from progressing. #noclientleftbehind

If you’re not on my list and you’re wanting to see what I do with all these people: CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE

Now let’s talk about your coaching skills, because if you’re not able to coach people through everything that I shared with you, the execution will fall short, the results will not happen, and the client will not buy into your training.

That’s why Michelle Boland and I created a workshop that is 100% hands-on!

Have you ever attended a seminar where they picked you as an exercise demo? For 5 minutes, you get to feel what it’s like to be coached by the instructor. You get to respond to their verbal and manual cues, which allows you to feel what your clients will need to feel.

Out of all the other attendees who didn’t get coached, you’ll be more successful getting your clients to execute that exercise correctly.

This workshop allows you to be coached, demo, practice coaching, and walk through some troubleshooting with every single activity! Instead of 5 minutes of personal attention, you’ll have a whole day of movement and hands-on learning.

If you’re wanting your staff under one consistent model, this is the workshop for you and your employees. Learn to develop movement standards where everyone gets to develop their own training talent and skill following the same principles.

Going through our Consistent Training Model will allow you to manage multiple people in one session while keeping the coaching quality high. You will creatively increase your client’s movement repertoire by altering load placement and performance variables to drive adaptation in each plane of motion.

Location: Hype Gym, NYC

Date/Time: Sunday, September 29th 2019. 9:00am-4:30pm (lunch 12:00pm-1:00pm)

CLICK HERE for the event’s page.

I hope to see you there 🙂