The year 2020 didn’t just mark the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also a time of significant social turmoil stemming from multiple events highlighting systemic racism and police violence in the United States, particularly the killing of George Floyd. It was at this point that a group of individuals in the fitness industry began engaging in virtual discussions about what fairness and equality should look like in the wellness world, specifically in the 21st century.
Among the participants in this online group was Percell Dugger, a personal trainer based in New York City and the founder of GOODWRK. Dugger identified a need for the Black and brown professionals in the group to have a permanent platform where they could address the need for greater equality in their respective fields. The conversations being held were too important to exist solely in an online bubble. “We were in the midst of a global pandemic,” Dugger explains. “People were out of work, gyms were closing down, and individuals were uncertain about their future. We were determined to take action and become leaders of change in the industry.”
This led to the establishment of Fit For Us in 2020. Created by Dugger, this alliance of BIPOC professionals in the wellness industry aims to foster equitable health and wellness outcomes for all individuals involved, including educators and clients.
As the community continued to grow, Fit For Us sought to uplift and support its members while also collaborating with other brands and companies to expand the reach of their message. Consequently, the organization evolved to include a talent management agency, connecting its members with brands that seek to collaborate with diverse professionals in the wellness field. (
“We realized that we possess an incredible ecosystem of talent within our organization,” notes Janelle Tracey, Fit For Us’ director of community. She explains that the community can offer a wide range of services, including content creation and event production, featuring their roster of wellness professionals. “It has been an immensely exciting and somewhat unexpected journey, but it ultimately revolves around our community and their needs, as well as the growing interest from brands,” Tracey adds.
Since its inception, Fit For Us has collaborated with various organizations, including Color of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the nation, and ClassPass. Furthermore, the collective has organized its own events, such as BLKTIV, a virtual fitness conference for Black fitness professionals, their communities, and allies.
Beyond that, the everyday effort of Fit for Us is advocating for racial fairness and variety in the fitness and wellness industry. And one way the members are doing that is by creating fair health and prosperity outcomes for the communities of color they serve. To help achieve this, Fit For Us, not only works with its members and brand partners to ensure equitable pay among BIPOC employees but also by creating content and conversations that directly address the health differences and imbalances that exist within these minority communities. Together, the hope is to move toward creating more comprehensive wellness environments.
Working in partnership with ClassPass, for example, Fit For Us was able to bring together Black and brown experts to hold conversations on variety, equity, inclusion, and belonging, says Angela Jennings, Fit For Us director of operations. “We had the opportunity to center Black and brown experiences, offer classes ranging from fitness to classes on how to build your business, while also working to inspire and create change [in the industry and community].”
Aside from the services the agency provides, at the foundation of the organization is its community, says Dugger. After all, a network is how Fit For Us got its start and is still at the heart of everything the organization does. “People were craving a space to share and learn,” says Tracey. “So, we hold monthly meetings to provide information to help folks grow their businesses. We [also] started bringing in guest speakers to really cultivate spaces for community and learning. For [BIPOC] professionals, it can often feel isolating. [But], that’s one of our strengths. There’s truly room for everybody at the table, and if we all sit down and talk and share, all boats will rise.”
Looking to the future, the agency is excited to continue to center Black and brown voices through candid conversations about what it’s really like being a BIPOC fitness professional in an industry that’s been historically rooted in whiteness.
You can join the movement by following Fit for Us on Instagram, Facebook, or by applying to be a member on their website.