Racism and the Wellness Industry

In this episode, I am talking about racism and the wellness industry, along with how being a coach is related to this issue. I’ll be sharing my thoughts, experiences and knowledge thus far in my life. 

We discuss:

– Racism Within The Wellness Industry

– Actively Acknowledging Potential Racist Thoughts Or Actions

– Wellness Relating To Emotional And Physical Health

– Elevating The Standards In Health And Wellness

…and more. 

Listen to the full episode here:

Here are some highlights:

My Life Was Almost 100% White Influence 

“This is the part that I want you to hopefully really hold on to,” Lindsey said. “We weren’t even actively acknowledging our own thoughts, our own racism, our own patterns of behavior, and that’s what I really woke up to. Because I looked at my life, and it’s white people, my neighborhood, white. That’s not 100% true, but my town is generally very white. My clients? All white. The gym that I trained at, all white clients and white trainers. The stores that I go to, the places that I go, and the other gyms that I go to as a consumer as a client, all white.”

“Take that a step further, the people I followed on Instagram, white. The groups that I was in for business coaching for the podcast that I listen to, white. Not intentionally. I didn’t do any of this intentionally, but after the murder of George Floyd, I paid attention and I looked at my life and I said, Wow. You know that saying, you are the sum of the five people you see the most… Well, my entire life and its influence was white. So I opened my own heart, my own mind, and I started to talk with my clients.”

White Privilege From My Perspective

“I was able to get student loans for college in the blink of an eye,” Heiserman said. “I’ve always been able to get a loan for a car. I got accepted to a school with no questions asked really. I got a job on my first job interview, I got a mortgage when I was 23, and I worked a commission job.  Granted, that was 2007, they were giving houses to everyone, but still… you get my point. I can go out running and not worry that I will be shot. I can go to the store by myself or I can be at the gym alone.” 

Expanding Our World Views In Real Life And On Social Media

“When I wanted to learn more about myself and the role that I play as a business owner, or as a person in wellness, the first thing I did was go learn from different people,” Lindsey said. “I joined Rachel Rodgers Club, which is a coaching program. It has changed my business. I can guarantee you, I never would have found her amazing work. That is part of the problem, right? This is the problem. These are things I started to notice. That I wouldn’t have found these people, these incredible coaches, people doing amazing work, because I wasn’t paying attention.”

“I wasn’t out there increasing my world view, or finding new people to follow. I just was going along with the way it was. That’s part of what I want you to take from this. What are you surrounding yourself with? Who are you learning from? Who are you in partnership with? Who do you pay?”

Understanding Unintentional Racist Thoughts Or Patterns 

“I really thought to myself,” Heiserman said. “What are the ways that I am racist? I’m not trying to be mean to myself, and this is where my clients are like, ‘But you’re so nice.’ Yes, I’m nice, but that doesn’t mean that a nice person can’t have racist thought patterns or can’t have racist behavior. There’s a phrase about white guilt, and I’m not trying to play like a victim guilty card by any means. I’m trying to actively take my own responsibility for this and look around and see the ways in which my thought patterns affect my life.”

“I also think about my childhood, and my growing up. I did not live in a diverse place at all, so my world view was not diverse, the people in my life were not diverse, and the same for my college. I went to a very Midwestern college with no diversity. Then I transitioned to my adult life, no diversity to speak of, because I didn’t actively seek it out. I didn’t make that a priority in my life and in my business.”

Only You Can Choose To Make A Change Or Not

“Work to be less racist, to be anti­racist, to be proactive in your learning starts first with you…” Heiserman said. “Nobody can do that for you. Nobody knows what you’re thinking. Nobody knows the people that you follow, I mean, sure. We could look, but my point being, you are in charge of you, and whether you’re going to make any change or not. As we saw, 55% of white women still voted for Trump. That’ll be part of my social media conversation coming up, but you start with you. You start with your own thought patterns and then I want you to ask yourself, are you having discussions with your clients?”

What You Share Or Don’t Share On Social Media Shows A Lot 

“I don’t need to tell you anything, just trust me and my staff, and stay out of my political leanings,” Heiserman said. “Now, if you just read such a post, you might think, Okay, fair enough, you get to choose what you put on the internet. You get to choose what you put out there to the world. You get to choose how much you tell people… Just like, I get to choose whether I tell people anything. You always have that choice. Here’s where it gets sticky… And again, I am not perfect, I’m still finding my voice and how I wanna say things, or how I want to talk about racism and myself and wellness.”

“I’m still figuring that out because I’m a question or because I’m a learner, I often get stuck in that. But here’s what I know, when black people tell you their life experience, if you are white, you can’t tell them that that’s not what’s happening. So when they tell me that they have racial slurs set at them when they walk down the street, or they tell me that they don’t feel comfortable walking into a gym because it’s all white people. If they feel unsafe because they can’t go for a run without worrying about getting shot. I believe them.”

What Makes A Good Coach

“The ability to step out of your life and be an observer of someone else’s, and to believe what they tell you, their life experiences, that is their truth,” Lindsey said. “Then from the client’s truth, that is what you hold to be true, and that is how you coach them. You don’t allow your life experience to guide how you are coaching. That’s what makes a good coach, that’s what makes a good therapist, that is what makes a good personal trainer, that’s what makes a good wellness professional, because regardless of the topic of racism or the topic of access, frankly just any client coming to you, you have to be able to step outside of yourself.”

Wellness Is Emotional Health

“To say that racism or the right to marry whoever you want has nothing to do with wellness is crazy town, because wellness is mental health,” Lindsey said. “Wellness is emotional health. Those two things come before physical health, they come before even financial health, right? They’re all intertwined, but if you don’t think that those issues matter, then how are you operating as a coach? How are you operating as a business?”

Actively Being Less Racist As A Business 

“If you are a fitness and wellness business, what are you going to do to be less racist? And I say it like that on purpose, because I truly believe that for most of us, we have racist thoughts,”  Lindsey said. “The world I grew up in was racist, and here’s what’s hard for people as they automatically start to think that I must be a terrible person if I’m racist, I say it like that because I hope it rustles your feathers so that you can look at your own thought patterns. You can look at your life and go, Oh, that might be problematic. How can I change that?”

Elevating The Standards In Health And Wellness 

“I’ve made a commitment to higher black women or black men for roles that I feel suit my needs, not just because,” Heiserman said. “But I’m inviting them into my world view by following different people on social media and the things I’ve said, and honestly, I also feel like I’ve probably said a lot of things wrong in this episode. But this is an issue that I as a white person, I wanna talk about. Really talking to you, fellow white people, so that we collectively can do better. So that we can elevate the standards in health and wellness and be more welcoming. I will never know what it’s like to have those life experiences, so I listen.” 

Lack Of Diversity At Races And Gyms

“For years, I’ve gone to obstacle course races, and I’ve looked around and I said, Why is everybody white? Why?” Lindsey said. “I also hope that with that example, you don’t just say, Well, it’s because it’s too expensive for black people, because that is a racist thought. Christy King talked about this, if you’re not following her, go follow her. She talked about this in her racism and the wellness webinar, and she said, assuming that getting more black people to your gym, assuming that they need a lower price is about as racist as it gets because now you’re saying that they can’t afford it.”

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