7 years ago when I entered the fitness industry, you would have never heard me speak about anything controversial. I saw it as my responsibility as a professional to keep my business and personal life completely separate. At the time, I saw it as the right thing to do in order to maintain professionalism. In addition, I personally didn’t think it was my place to speak about issues I had very little knowledge of. With the exception of family and close friends, I didn’t speak much about politics.
I’ll be totally honest with you. The main reason I didn’t was fear. I was afraid of the consequences. I was afraid of judgment and how it would affect my business. I refused to look at the big picture. I thought simply showing up at the polls and voting was all I needed to do in order to be a responsible citizen. To me, keeping politics private was the right thing to do. I stayed in my lane.
Unfortunately, I remained unaware of the reality that people of color and the LGBTQ+ community experience daily. This was due to a combination of ignorance, denial and not challenging myself to step outside of my comfortable little bubble and face the truth. My mother used to get really angry whenever I would simply repeat something another person said. She always said “Do your research and have your own damn opinion!”
I spoke to my friends and family about this, acknowledging some of the biases we have but ultimately admitted that we are extremely unaware and out of our element. For years, I thought that just not being xenophobic was enough. Looking back, I realize how naive I was. I realized how hypocritical it was for me to talk about how amazing our community is but to not be active in it outside of the gym. I can’t imagine how disappointing it must be for so many to fall silent when our fellow citizens are being oppressed, simply because it doesn’t affect us.
I can’t be silent any more. My coach and mentor Phil Scarito said it best “History’s greatest strengths have come from standing for others when it was easier to sit.” We can and will do better. Black lives matter. We stand with members of the LGBTQ+ community. They’re human beings, who deserve love and dignity just like the rest of us. When it comes to the basic rights of human beings, we’re no longer debating political policies and it’s not up for debate. America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. There isn’t a band-aid solution, I’m aware this is going to take a lot of work. We owe it to ourselves, our fellow citizens and the next generation to do and be better. This is why at Strength with Purpose, we will always unapologetically say: “Strength is for everyone.”
To your lifelong health and success,