Black Girl Pilates: A Revolution
Updated: Mar 4, 2020
In May of 2017, during a very dark, depressive and lonely time of my life, Black Girl Pilates was birthed.
Actually, sorta kinda but not really.....this really all began in 2010. I had really only been teaching for 2 years and was pretty wet behind the ears. Yet, I was like....where are all the Black people who teach Pilates?? So at that time I decided to find out. I knew a few teachers like Cynthia Shipley who was my first introduction to Pilates at Harlem School of the Arts and a few others but was this it? Surely not. I cannot remember exactly but after some research I was introduced to Dyane Salaam Harvey, Pilates instructor, Dancer, Choreographer and founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theater. I spoke with her about how was I feeling and after a very long conversation, we decided to start Pilates Instructors of Color. I was later introduced to Sarita Allen (former Ailey Dancer), Dallas Fuentes, Marcea Daeter and Johari Mayfield. Unfortunately, most of them were still performing or had schedules that sometimes made it difficult to meet so we unofficially disbanded. I would still feel the affects of being the ONLY Black person in the room not realizing years down the line, this feeling of loneliness would bring the idea up again but in full force. In May of 2017, the feeling became a reality and Black Girl Pilates was born. With the help of a Micki Price Havard (@mickiphit) and Gina Jackson (@pilates4fitness), I was able to gather a list of several Black instructors, follow them and encourage them to join the Facebook support that I started. I did not want to use the previous name as I wanted the name to be revolutionary so I decided to spell out how I felt. "Black" versus "Of Color" sounded much more revolutionary, plus the use of POC to describe us is erasure in my book. We already were underrepresented so why would I further erase who we are as Black people. The group quickly grew from 50 to 150 in a matter of a few weeks. I had my share of backlash from white instructors who felt I was being divisive by having a group specifically and only for Black identifying womxn who teach Pilates. I knew when I started this group and given the revolutionary name, I would be exposed to racists attacks but yet it did not and has not stopped this group from growing. I have been interviewed on numerous podcasts, featured in major magazines and written several articles about Black Girl Pilates. We are almost 400 strong all over the world with a sister Facebook group of Black womxn who are students or potential students (400+). The momentum these sisters have created in the Pilates method is indescribable and I don't see us stopping anytime soon.