- The Black Lives Matter movement has made people realize how much anti-racism work there is to be done in all aspects of our lives.
- Despite progress made, White voices still dominate the wellness industry and this needs to change.
- You can help change the narrative by supporting Black-owned businesses.
In May 2020, it became excruciatingly clear that a gaping racial disparity exists in all industries. As May turned into June and June turned into July, it was increasingly apparent that everyone had a lot of work to do. The fitness and wellness industries were no exception.
Maillard Howell, owner of The Beta Way in New York City, has seen it and felt it throughout his professional career: “It is hurtful and spoken a lot about amongst minority trainers.” Howell goes on to explain that his business, a Black-owned CrossFit gym, is “an island.”
There aren’t many fully Black-owned or minority-owned fitness and wellness businesses in New York City, Howell explains, a fact that’s tinged with hurt because the city has its own ecosystem of wellness and fitness. Yet racial inequalities persist.
The truth is, it shouldn’t have taken the unjust murder of George Floyd—or anyone else—for people to realize that the wellness and fitness industries haven’t ever been inclusive. The very fact that the disparity went largely unnoticed until Black Lives Matter campaigning peeled back the curtain shows how ingrained racism is in all industries and systems.
The Way Forward
The first step to a more equal future is cultivating awareness—getting people to understand that this problem exists and that it has existed for, quite literally, forever. And while the real change lies in the executive offices, Howell says individuals can collectively produce change, too.
One thing everyone can do right now, and keep doing, is to support Black-owned businesses. You have the power to use your wallet to decide which brands thrive and which don’t. Vote with your dollars. You get to use your money to support Black business owners and stop supporting businesses with a history of racism.
To help, Verywell has put together this list of Black-owned fitness companies you can start supporting right now.
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list of Black-owned fitness companies. While there are nearly 40 brands compiled here, we know this is only a fraction of the incredible Black-owned fitness companies out there. If you know of one that should be on this list, please let us know! You can reach us by emailing [email protected]
That said, here are 35 amazing Black-owned fitness brands to support now and always, from apparel to apps and online coaching to traditional studios.
Black-Owned Workout Clothing Brands
You can always use some stylish new athletic wear, right? If you’re on the hunt for new workout clothes, now’s the perfect opportunity to use your consumer dollars for social good.
Instead of heading out to the Nike outlet or your usual sporting goods store, consider shopping at one of these Black-owned workout clothes brands instead. You might just find your new favorite brand while supporting a Black business owner. A win-win, right?
Culture Fit Clothing
Culture Fit Clothing’s tagline is “Activewear for the culturally conscious woman.” Founded in 2018 by a group of women of West African descent, Culture Fit Clothing features flattering, high-waisted, African-inspired designs in moisture-wicking material. These threads are absolutely the epitome of stylish and functional.
This Black-owned fitness clothing brand was founded by Mbali Z. Ndlovu, a South African fitness enthusiast who wanted to create an empowering brand for women. The name Lukafit is partially derived from the Zulu word “juluka,” which means to sweat.
PRU stands for “Power + Representation + Unity.” PRU APPAREL was founded in 2014 after Ebonique Hewing “felt a desperate need for safety, freedom, and peace.” Hewing created PRU as a vessel for sisterhood and community, featuring vibrant and culturally inspired prints on all PRU designs.
Kemetic Knowledge is a high-performance athletic wear and swimsuit brand that makes functional, flattering apparel that honors African culture and ancestry. The brand aims “to draw attention to Africans’ significant role by honoring them through our line of clothing.”
Vero Mastodon is a military-inspired, Black-owned apparel brand for men and women. The line features hoodies, sweatpants, athletic shorts, tank tops, hats, leggings, T-shirts, and zip-up jackets.
If you want bold, beautiful, and comfortable, you want Lydia Endora. This clothing brand was founded by Chicago-based designer Lydia Endora Thompson, who saw a need for high-quality, fashion-forward clothing at affordable prices.
VizFit Apparel was founded by MIRROR founding trainer and Equinox personal trainer Gerren Liles. VizFit is short for Vision Fitness. VizFit Apparel offers graphic tanks and tees, as well as leggings and hats.
EleVen by Venus Williams makes stylish everyday athleisure wear, as well as tennis-specific apparel inspired by Williams’ lifelong pro tennis career. Venus founded EleVen to create an athletic wear line that empowers women to get on the court—or wherever fitness takes them—and bring their best every time.
Just Lift brings you a variety of joggers, leggings, tanks, T-shirts, hoodies, and accessories. Just Lift also offers a selection of fitness gear and equipment, including weightlifting belts, wrist wraps, elbow and knee wraps, shaker bottles, and gym bags.
Yema Khalif, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, founded the Yema apparel line after coming to the U.S. to study communications through the Road to Freedom scholarships program. Co-founder Hawi Awash was born in Ethiopia and a refugee in Kenya before moving to Minnesota at age eight. The duo now creates bold and culturally inspired activewear through Yema, which donates 20% of all purchases to orphaned children in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Roam Loud was founded by Toyin Omisore, a Liberian-Nigerian American who loves fitness and travel. Omisore creates vibrant workout clothes in colors and styles intended to unapologetically flatter brown skin. The line features high-waisted leggings, long-line sports bras, and much more.
Khalia Ervin promotes unity and peace with this African-inspired fitness brand. Sankofa Athletics encourages a high-performance lifestyle and living with purpose.
If you’re looking for light, beachy, relaxing vibes in your activewear, head to Beach Hours, a Black-owned and woman-owned business that promotes female strength and empowerment. Beach Hours offers matching sets, high-rise leggings, sports bras, tops, and jumpers.
A tennis-inspired brand, Ascot Manor makes windbreakers, skirts and skorts, shorts, sweatsuits, and even its own line of shoes. Not only is Ascot Manor Black-owned, but it’s the only tennis apparel line designed specifically to provide skilled but under-resourced tennis players with gear, apparel, and scholarships.
“Made by lifters. For lifters.” That’s Barbell Commission’s tagline—and it’s evident that the company operates by it through-and-through. Barbell Commission manufactures durable shorts, pants, leggings, and tops that can keep up with even the most advanced lifters.
With a size range of S-3XL, Glamourina positions itself as a woman-first brand. Glamourina makes stunningly gorgeous activewear with a focus on women of color. The brand also runs Black Girl Healthy, a blog dedicated to providing health information and tips for women of color.
Black-Owned Fitness Apps
Now that at-home fitness is on the rise, try one of these at-home fitness apps founded by Black fitness pros.
Sworkit has been around for a while: It’s one of the first comprehensive, customizable fitness apps to surface. Sworkit was founded in 2012 by Ben Young and Greg Coleman. Since then, the brand has grown to encompass two apps, a corporate wellness program, and more.
Sworkit also spearheads a youth initiative program that brings free fitness technology to underprivileged children and teens.
GrpFit is an online fitness community specifically for Black fitness enthusiasts. The app includes guided workouts, a community feed where you can share your successes, and an article library that includes posts on health topics specific to the Black community.
Black-Owned Fitness Studios and Gyms
If you like the idea of working out at a gym or fitness studio, here are a few Black-owned companies to check out.
AARMY offers boot camp classes, cycling, weightlifting, and stretching programs. AARMY primarily offers classes at its Los Angeles and New York City locations, with some free virtual sessions provided through Instagram Live.
Harlem-based Harlem Cycle offers a jam-packed schedule of spinning and sculpt fitness classes in its studio and online. When you sign up for a membership, you also get access to the Harlem Cycle community where you can connect with others on the same journey.
E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and offers boot camp, spin classes, and small group training, as well as women’s and men’s specialty classes. For virtual on-demand fitness classes, download the E.F.F.E.C.T app on Android or iPhone.
From yoga to martial arts, Brownstone Wellness offers both private and group classes in Brooklyn, NY, and online. Founder Steven Rousseau is a certified personal trainer, holistic nutritionist, and kemetic yoga instructor, so you know you’re getting the best of the best.
This Black-owned and woman-owned fitness business offers dance and sculpt classes—think of it as a hip hop workout party. TRILLFIT offers group classes and private training sessions in Boston, as well as at-home programming and a digital studio membership.
Search the hashtag #sexiestworkout on Instagram and you’ll find riveting videos of men and women sweating it out through dance cardio. Brukwine offers these Caribbean-inspired dance classes through Instagram Live and Zoom for $5 to $10 per class.
Gloveworx is a boxing and athletic training facility that offers high-intensity fitness classes with an emphasis on human performance. It has locations in Los Angeles and New York City and also offers virtual classes. Founder Leyon Azubuike, a former U.S. Nationals Heavyweight competitor, thinks everyone can train like an athlete and that everyone deserves personal attention from coaches, even in group classes.
Another boxing-inspired fitness studio, BOOMBOX Boxing (based in Washington, DC) offers cardio boxing and strength training all wrapped up into one functional, fat-blasting workout. Founders Reggie Smith and Angela Jennings created BOOMBOX Boxing with the intent to bring the health benefits of boxing to all fitness levels and backgrounds.
Tone House is a New York-based fitness studio aimed at “unleashing the inner athlete in everyone.” This is the place to go for team-oriented, competitive, and high-energy strength and circuit training sessions.
With locations in Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area, Sweat Pilates offers 45-minute Proformer classes with upbeat playlists.
Trifecta offers more than 100 fitness classes per month online. You can tune in on Zoom or Instagram Live, or you can head to the brick-and-mortar gym in New York City.
The indoor cycling boutique studio RydeFYR brings you a “fully immersive multi-sensory full-body workout” in Hermosa Beach, CA, and online. Founder Chevy Laurent is a former competitive dancer who turned her love for dance athleticism into a love for fitness.
Workout recovery is just as important as the workout itself. Recover strong and smart with Stretch 22, which offers flexibility and mobility classes developed by a former Olympic sprinter and a sports medicine practitioner. Stretch22 has four locations in the Seattle area.
The Beta Way
The Beta Way is Maillard Howell’s CrossFit and functional fitness gym in New York City. The Beta Way is known for competitive yet friendly, high-intensity classes.
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