Hello lovely humans, Ashley here, owner and HBIC of Prism Fit.

It has been two weeks since the doors to Prism Fit opened and I wanted to give a formal introduction to our mission. As stated on the website, we believe that everyone deserves to take up space. This seems like a simple mission, a “no-brainer,” but after being a coach for 7 years, I found myself encountering similar themes. These themes ultimately led me to pursue Prism Fit.

Gyms of all kinds can be incredibly intimidating places and many of my female identifying clients have similar stories of feeling out of place. They want to lift weights but do not want bothered by the men in the weight room, so they go to a treadmill instead. They venture into the weight room, but receive the inevitable tap on the shoulder by a dude that ends up mansplaining to them about their squat. They receive side eyes if they are larger bodied individuals because – oh my goodness – larger bodied individuals like to workout too.

These negative experiences do not just happen to female identifying/presenting clients. The LGBTQIA+ community face these barriers and more. A female identifying individual that expresses themselves as more masculine may not be welcomed by other women. A male identifying individual that expresses themselves as more feminine may not be welcome by other men. Locker-rooms come to mind as a specific and obvious example. Transgender, non-binary and GNC persons may not be able to find a gym that recognizes their pronouns and forgoes gendered locker-rooms and bathrooms. The use of gender specific weights for a workout or gender specific leaderboards can also be an issue. No one needs to use a gender specific barbell or a gender specific prescribed weight in a class. No one needs to be labeled as “he’s a strong dude” or “she’s strong for a woman” (which is another problem in and of itself)…how about that person is just strong. All anyone needs to know is how to move their body correctly and what weight they are using at any given time.

My final, and ashamed to admit last theme observed, was the lack of BIPOC in the fitness industry. I had always observed that my classes over the years were predominantly white due to lack of financial access or camaraderie. I had not previously thought about the lack of BIPOC trainers. That is not to say there are none as Portland has some amazing BIPOC trainers, it is just that when I started to think about who I knew that would help me build a diverse coaching staff, I could only name two people. It was pretty disheartening but a good reality check that I needed to get out of my own bubble. I needed to branch out, connect with BIPOC trainers and find a way make what is a very whitewashed industry more accessible. I am a queer white woman and not an expert in this area by any means. I just know I can help in some small way to make it better.

Those are the why’s behind Prism Fit. Again, I will never claim to be an expert in any of these areas. There are many other humans out there doing the work that have more experience behind them than me. I had the privilege of being able to open my own space and creating it exactly how I envisioned. It is a place where women, the LGBTQIA+ community, BIPOC and other underestimated individuals feel welcome (shout to @tr8nrtyra for the new language regarding underestimated vs. underserved/underrepresented).

Thank you so much Prism crew!

-Ashley

If you’re interested in individuals doing the work, go to Instagram and check out:

@rpc_llc @themshealth @rosecitywellnessweek @theoutfdn @decolonizing_fitness @yrfatfriend  *** just to name a few!