I’m a Black Fitness Trainer and I Rarely See Anyone Who Looks Like Me in Classes—Here’s How the Industry Can Fix That

It’s way past time to do better.

No pain, no gain. Start counting when it hurts. Run till you see stars. Over the years, you’ve probably heard a few exercise mantras that are more than a little… hardcore. Real talk: How’s that burnout approach working for you?

Ayorinde Iranlowo-Ifatunji, barre instructor and Nike Well Collective trainer, thinks there’s a better path to wellness—and it’s all about moving your body in a way that actually makes you feel good and, in turn, allows you to shine your light on others. Her go-to daily practice is walking (alongside the zillions of TikTokers out there making their steps “hot“)… but hers comes with a twist.

She calls it a wellness walk: accessible, low-impact movement that makes her feel her best, both physically and emotionally. “Wellness walks help you ground yourself, breathe some fresh air, and move your body without putting too much stress on it,” she says—and the routine is one of her favorite ways to connect with herself and her community.

If your burpees and bootcamps don’t seem to be giving much more than sore muscles and self doubt, it might be time to slow things down and give wellness walks a try. Iranlowo-Ifatunji is making the case for a walking exercise routine and sharing her go-to walking ‘fits from Nike so you can unleash your radiance and embrace your inner hottie every step of the way.

How a Nike trainer found feel-good fitness

Six-pack chasers, hear this: Iranlowo-Ifatunji’s journey to feel-good movement was a winding one. Growing up, the idealized (and unrealistic) bodies she saw in the media didn’t look like hers, and she says that comparison dimmed her inner light. “Because of all the pressure I felt, I was never able to stay consistent with exercise,” she says. “It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on looking good (whatever that means) and prioritized how movement was making me feel that I achieved a movement routine I felt good about.”

“This cultural shift is incredibly important because it helps us to make friends with our bodies instead of enemies.”

She considers today’s feel-good exercise movement to be a cultural shift—and while it may be a few years overdue, she’s ready to celebrate it. “Moving to feel good has deepened my relationship to self and provided a safe place for me to love myself, however I see fit that day,” she says. “I move to balance my mood, to feel a spark of joy, to release stuck emotions.”

Simply put? “This cultural shift is incredibly important because it helps us to make friends with our bodies instead of enemies,” she says. “Being more intuitive and less rigid about what my body needs has helped me feel the best I’ve ever felt.”

Making the case for wellness walks

A walking exercise routine is at the top of Iranlowo-Ifatunji’s feel-good fitness list. “Wellness walks are one of my favorite forms of movement,” she says, and she uses them as a way to connect with her Brooklyn community—walking through the park, seeing familiar faces, exploring the neighborhood with friends, and swinging by the coffee shop where she’s become a regular.

Her simple on-foot instructions? Get outside—or hop on the treadmill if the weather’s not great—and stroll for as long as you’d like. Pace doesn’t matter, but she recommends walking for at least 20 minutes to help your body and mind settle into the practice. “I love wellness walks because they’re a simple yet effective form of cardio that helps me shake off funky energy and sort through thoughts that may be taking up too much space in my mind,” she says. “After a walk I always feel refreshed and ready to take on the rest of my day.”

How to curate your walking wardrobe

Iranlowo-Ifatunji tries to set aside an hour for her wellness walks, and she swears by supportive Zenvy leggings that are “the perfect mix of buttery, stretchy softness” and Nike Motiva sneakers that feel like “the cushiest clouds” to keep her comfortable the whole time—because there’s nothing more distracting than activewear that sags or cuts in all the wrong places. She relies on Nike for outfits that actually fit well and are designed to help you unleash your inner hottie.

If you’re ready to get walking, snag Iranlowo-Ifatunji’s favorite Nike staples, and take her advice for kicking off your on-foot routine with an empowered mindset. To her, that means “turning inward for joy and validation before I seek it outside of myself,” she says. “It’s about embracing every part of me, the things I love and the things that make me feel a little uncomfy. By doing this, my light will always shine through and abundance will stay flowing my way.” Inner radiance, unleashed.

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