Personal trainers crowdfund to launch first black fitness festival

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Lorraine (left) is a PT and Donna (right) is a yoga instructor (Picture: Donna and Lorraine)

The fitness and wellness industry can be a difficult space for people of colour to navigate because of the stark lack of diversity.

While fitness is a booming £5bn industry in the UK, a lot of the classes, festivals and online communities are still overwhelmingly white.

So, two personal trainers – both black women – are taking matters into their own hands and raising money to launch the first fitness festival for the black community.

Lorraine Russell and Donna Noble are aiming to raise £15,000 to bring together a one-day, free to attend festival – NoireFitFest.

The aim is to create a space for women and men, fitness enthusiasts or complete fitness novices, to take part in and immerse themselves in fitness activities taught by black fitness professionals and influencers.

Donna says that seeing only white professionals in the fitness world makes it feel like minority communities don’t matter and that people like her don’t deserve to have access to wellbeing.

‘It means that we miss out on the benefits of cultivating a more holistic and healthy lifestyle,’ Donna tells Metro.co.uk.

‘This can act as a huge deterrent to participating in fitness, as it can feel to the community that spaces created for fitness aren’t for them.

Lorraine and Donna want to create a more inclusive fitness space (Picture: Getty)

‘If you do not see faces like yours doing something – you won’t consider it for yourself, which shows that representation really does matter.’

Long-term, Donna says this lack of fitness and physical activity can have a lasting impact on the health of ethnic minority communities – leaving them more susceptible to certain illnesses, including stress and anxiety.

‘Having access to fitness is a fundamental entitlement of health, and will lead to a healthier and happier community for everyone,’ she adds.

The pair were inspired to create the festival after Sport England released figures revealing a significant ethnicity gap in physical activity.

Just 56% of black people are hitting the recommended about of weekly fitness, compared to 62% of the general population.

Donna thinks a big part of that discrepancy comes down to a lack of representation.

‘A lot of mainstream brands do not have campaigns that show images of people from diverse backgrounds or cultures,’ she explains. ‘This may have something to do what the “ideal” standard of beauty held up by the fitness industry.

‘Some gyms have a specific target audience in mind, which often doesn’t include ethnic minorities or certain body types.’

Donna says that in the past, she has felt excluded from fitness events – and hears from other black professionals that they have had to just accept being the only person of colour in the room.

‘Often there is only a token black influencer invited to take part, which gives the impression of ticking a box – or an attempt to avoid being called out,’ says Donna.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B8NiZzYH5K_/

She wants to change this with NoireFitFest, and create a space for black professionals and fitness enthusiasts to feel welcome and accepted.

The festival itself will feature expert talks, vendors advising on fitness and self-care products and treatments that customers can experience.

Donna says the idea came after she attended a panel run by Lorraine called Black Women in Fitness, which she found incredibly inspirational.

‘To be in a room full of black women and black fitness professionals was a first for me,’ she says. ‘The response was amazing and it highlighted that there is a need for more of these types of events.

‘There was so much sharing and empowerment – everyone was seen and acknowledged and able to share their experience, whether it was from a personal or professional perspective.

‘I am still buzzing talking about this.’

Donna and Lorraine want to host their event in a top London venue and raise enough for specialist equipment for fitness classes. To help them achieve this, you can visit their crowdfunding page.

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