Chuze Fitness leaders share why and how the health and fitness industry can prioritize DEI.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are quickly on the rise as issues of increasing importance in the workplace. Since 2014, there’s been a 32% increase in executives prioritizing diversity and inclusion at their companies, according to Glassdoor. While this is progress, there is still a need for systemic change in many industries — including the fitness industry.
How can health clubs create impactful change instead of performative change when it comes to DEI? Chelsia Janise, the assistant general manager at Chuze Fitness, San Bernardino, said a great starting point is to speak to the individuals you’d like to impact.
“Whether those are employees or whoever, let your target audience have a moment to speak to what it is that needs to be changed,” said Janise. “Often times the impactful change lies in challenging the systems, traditions and practices that are already in place.”
For Corey McCloskey, the district operation training manager for Chuze Fitness, health clubs can make impactful changes in DEI by starting with the internal culture within their business and their values.
“Chuze has always put people first which has enabled us to implement serving others and providing a family atmosphere as a foundation,” explained McCloskey. “By doing so, you create a culture where all members of the business feel welcome and heard which, as a result, allows those individuals to welcome others around them regardless of their background.”
One way Chuze puts people first is through their monthly DEI roundtable where they discuss current social issues and explore ideas on how they as a company can be the change internally with their teams, and externally with their members and community. The roundtables include multiple departments such as marketing, human resources, recruiting, and education and culture.
Other initiatives Chuze has implemented include training videos recorded for new hires. These include their “Chuze Unity” video and their “Introduction to Education & Culture.’” Additionally, they have done multiple events that relate to fitness and social justice such as the “Run for Ahmaud Arbery” event.
“Our most recent initiative is to impact map what our plans are for the rest of this year to make sure we are celebrating all people equally,” said McCloskey. “Another big focus has been through our recruiting department in which they are currently working on finding ways to provide opportunities for people in underrepresented communities.”
Overall, the fitness industry historically has been accessible to certain demographics who live in a wealthier area where gyms were commonly built. Janise said this has created and furthered a stigma that fitness is a privilege only for an exclusive group of people living within these communities.
“There has certainly been a shift in this narrative with the creation of more HVLP gyms such as Chuze Fitness,” said Janise. “There is still room for more inclusivity, however. A huge area of opportunity lies with the imagery used in fitness ads. Having imagery that is more indicative of the communities in which the gyms are located is a possible initiative that will help with inclusivity.”
Creating a real impact when it comes to DEI in the health and fitness industry can be uncomfortable, but if things do not challenge you, they will not change you.
“Here at Chuze within DEI we say, ‘Be the change,’” said McCloskey. “Educate and learn how to make effective change in the future. Provide learning opportunities, provide workshops, provide orientations and culture training to elevate the mindset of one another. We must have the conversations regardless of them being difficult because this is not an easy subject to talk about. At times DEI can put people in uncomfortable situations, but the conversation has to be had because it’s a learning experience. As long as you provide a safe space for everyone to be heard, then you are on the right track to building a more inclusive future.”