NoireFitFest, the online festival dedicated to changing the face of fitness, takes place this Saturday 19 September
Set up by yoga teacher and wellness coach Donna Noble and personal trainer and nutritionist Lorraine Russell, NoireFitFest is the UK’s first Black wellness and fitness festival. The event, officially launching on Saturday 19 September, is a free virtual festival which will accommodate for both fitness enthusiasts and beginners, to get involved and immerse themselves in a variety of activities, taught by Black fitness professionals and expert influencers.
NoireFitFest was curated to highight the difference in experience Black instructors and participants face when accessing fitness. Donna and Lorraine founded the festival to create a dedicated space in which to serve the Black community and communicate that health and wellness can be a priority for them too.
“We noticed through our own personal experiences and through speaking with our networks of Black Wellness and Fitness professionals, that we all had very similar stories of the lack of inclusion within the industry,” says Lorraine, speaking to EMD UK, the national governing body for group exercise, about the festival.
“We noticed that this was severely affecting the wider Black community in not feeling comfortable to enter into fitness spaces. We also identified that many Black wellness and fitness influencers would also say they were often the only “Black or Brown” face invited to attend wellness and fitness events, making them feel like a “token” invite.”
The event isn’t just about getting people active either. The festival includes panel discussions, which will highlight the challenges Black people face in the wellness and fitness industry, and how these could be overcome.
“There is certainly a lack of Black representation within fitness; especially in decision-making positions,” explains co-founder Donna. “I would like to see more Black instructors in management positions where they can achieve real and lasting change.”
“Other challenges include not being paid on parity with colleagues and having to deal with daily discrimination and micro-aggressions in the work environment. This can lead to assimilation so that you are not accused of being aggressive when, in fact, you are just being assertive in the same way anyone else in the situation would be.”
NoireFitFest online is the inaugural introduction to the festival. While the virtual event has attracted sponsors such as EMD UK, Fora and Sweaty Betty, Donna and Lorraine have plans to make next year’s event even bigger.
Donna and Lorraine are encouraging instructors and studio owners from all races to attend in order to educate and encourage more opportunities for both Black fitness professionals and participants.
The event is free to attend. Register for your ticket.
If you would like to add your support to the festival and other NoireFitFest initiatives, you can donate directly via donorbox.org/noirefitfest or the NoireFitFest website. All money raised goes to further promote the visibility of Black Wellness and Health.
Read Donna's article, Yoga has been whitewashed (and now is the time to change its reputation) on Therapy Directory.