March of 2017, I broke up with my so-called boyfriend of 6 months. I was heart-broken, depressed, lonely, and felt purposeless. Most would ask why I was so downtrodden when the relationship was just 6 months. Well, honestly, I put my whole self into something I knew in my gut was not for me. My life was centered around making this man happy and becoming what he wanted. I knew I wanted to experience true love, but it damn sure wasn’t supposed to be like this.
I spent the next few months trying to heal while also trying to get him to take me back even after he did some horrendous things to me. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I was struggling financially. No one knew what was really going on with me except maybe a small group of folks. I wondered if Pilates was truly one of my callings, and I was feeling a lot of anger due to the the lynchings of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castille and many others. I felt helpless because I did not know what to do for my community.
As I sat in my Bronx, NY living room on May 27, 2017, I asked myself if I knew any Black Pilates instructors. Was I following any or were there any to follow? During my earlier years of my Pilates career, I was blessed to meet Dyane Harvey-Salaam, Sarita Allen, Marcea Daiter and Dallas Fuentes, four women who would soon change the scope of my life in Pilates. These meetings began my quest for Black representation within the Pilates industry. So, that day I began my search for those who looked like me with the help of a few who I had already been following.
Had you asked me if I ever thought Black Girl Pilate grow or be known to the capacity it is now, I would have said no but obviously Black Jesus Jamal Shandreka Christ had other plans.
Almost 5 years later, we are 500+ strong, have three of the original assistants to Kathleen Stanford Grant (KSG), met in person at least 3 times, had three of the sisters grace the cover of Pilates Style Magazine, became a force to be reckoned with
in the Pilates community and so much more. Last year, during a phone call to Sarita Allen, one of the three KSG assistants, that I realized BGPI was founded 10 years from the day Kathy became our ancestor. I cried and cried and cried and cried and cried….
"Sometimes you find your purpose and community in the darkest of valleys."