Joseph Pilates dreamed of his method of exercise being taught in schools, the military, and everywhere people wanted to feel and move their best. At Balanced Body, we know Pilates is a powerful tool for helping clients of every kind: young, old, injured, athletic, white, black, or brown to live healthier, more fulfilled lives. As a company, we have worked continually to bring Pilates to communities all over the country and all over the world.
During the pandemic and the social unrest around the killing of George Floyd, we took a look at our community and realized we were not serving Black clients, instructors, and studio owners as effectively as we could. Our first step was to have many conversations with Black instructors to help us identify the best ways to better serve the Black community. These conversations led us to understand that real change will take time and require ongoing guidance and feedback to keep us on track.
We created our Black Instructor Advisory Board to help Balanced Body navigate the change to a more diverse community with as much sensitivity and effectiveness as possible. Their ongoing leadership provides direction, perspective, and support as we work together to create programs to empower the Black Pilates community. Our Black Instructor Advisory Board is a dynamic international group of instructors and studio owners who are essential partners in creating:
- The Diversity in Pilates webpage
- The Community Expansion and Joyful Movement Whole Life Scholarship programs
- More inclusive marketing materials and training manuals
- Increased participation of Black instructors in conferences and online events
In our conversations, one of the barriers that came up repeatedly was the image of Pilates as being dominated by wealthy, white women and the frequent experiences of our Black instructors of feeling excluded, put down, and ignored because they didn’t fit the stereotype of a “typical Pilates practitioner”. Through our Diversity in Pilates programs, Balanced Body’s goal is to increase the visibility of Black practitioners, to increase the number of Black Pilates instructors, and to provide a space for Black instructors to come together and find support.
As a Pilates equipment and education company, we can’t reverse 400 years of racism or solve racial justice issues, but we can mentor and train Black instructors and work to make Pilates a more inclusive and welcoming community for all. We look forward to continuing to support the growth of Pilates along with the PMA and to bringing its life-changing benefits to more and more people.
Ken Endelman is the Founder and CEO of Balanced Body® Inc.