February Feature: A Badass Bikram Studio That's #RedefiningFitness

"My studios should reflect the world that I'd like to live in: One that is diverse, inclusive and honors everyone's individual journey."

Welcome to my newsletter! I'm glad to have you here, and I hope you're glad to be here (let's be honest, you subscribed - so hopefully you are!). If you caught my previous LinkedIn posts, you know that this new newsletter will be a dedicated space to share wisdom, shout-out people doing amazing work (like you), and support each other in making the world a better and more fulfilling place, one small community at a time.

To that end, each issue will highlight a fitness studio/owner who's making cool moves in their community and #RedefiningFitness. I might be a little biased, but I think the woman/studio you're about to read out is a pretty outstanding feature to kick off with. 😏

Okay, let's get to it!

Studio Highlight

As we all know, February is Black History Month (What?! No way.). Yeah, and February may be almost over, but Black excellence and entrepreneurship is NOT! It's important that we don't fall into the trap of jumping on the bandwagon of diversity and inclusion when the calendar tells us to, but rather make it a priority every day, year-round.

So to end this month with a bang, and inspire you all to stay involved, curious, and active always, we are highlighting a badass woman doing the work we all need to be.

As a Black founder and thought leader in the industry, you know I'm excited to feature one of the most kick-ass, dedicated, impressive people I know: Kendra Blackett-Dibinga, owner and founder of Bikram Yoga Works in the Maryland/DC area

Kendra (on Instagram @blackettdigbinga) earned her NASM certification while in school at the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University. She loved the one-on-one interactions of training individuals, and that being a trainer helped her stay fit. But when she graduated and started an international development career in DC with lots of travel, and then a family, the one-on-one training no longer fit her lifestyle. A friend introduced her to Bikram, and she was hooked. She eventually followed encouragement to attend a teacher training, despite the barriers of raising small kids alongside her demanding career, and knew she was in for life. 

We caught up recently, and I'm honored to share a bit of our conversation here for you to enjoy, too:

Nt: Tell me a bit about your experience as a Black, female business owner in the boutique fitness space.

Kendra: There aren’t a lot of people that look like me in these positions. In bikram yoga even less so. However, I feel that because of my experiences feeling like an "other" in yoga spaces I wanted to create a space where nobody would feel that way. That everyone comes for the same thing to heal their bodies and that in that process they get in touch with their one humanity and see mine as well.

I feel that there is much to be done in creating inclusive spaces and I think I’m in a good position to do so. I often say my studios should reflect the world that I’d like to live in. One that is diverse, inclusive and honors everyone’s individual journey. I am happy to be able to make a mark in this space, because our communities are often excluded from the latest wellness trends which could address the main issues of health and well-being that we see causing excess morbidity and mortality.  

Nt: What role has community played in your work, and how have your studios been part of the communities you're in? Kendra: Community is everything. Community is what drives our ethos. We welcome everyone no matter who they are or their backgrounds because to enter a bikram studio is a courageous act. It means the person has decided to take control of their health and well-being. I love hearing that we don't just sell yoga, we sell community. Community is the glue that keeps people coming back. Even more so now after Covid, we see that people want this, need it, and come back repeatedly for it. 


You see why she's one of my favorites?! She is doing THE WORK. She is #RedefiningFitness in the way that all of us should aspire to do, and I give my gratitude for that. 

If you own or attend a studio that you think should be featured in an upcoming issue, please reply to this email and share the details - I want to hear what's good in your corner of the world!

Check it out: LinkedIn Articles

If you follow me on LinkedIn, you may have noticed I’m a little more active on there than I used to be—and that trend’s here to stay. That’s because I keep hearing that I need to share some of the things I’ve been saying in private about the importance of health in our lives and communities—both locally and globally.

While this newsletter is a space for really highlighting the awesome things happening in the fitness industry specifically (like Kendra’s story), LinkedIn is where I’ll go even deeper with thought leadership about fitness and beyond, from community health to education and tech, from global leadership and innovation. 

I’ll plan to share one article each month on the topics above, starting with this one about my efforts to #RedefineFitness on a global level. If that’s up your alley, I hope you’ll follow me and join the conversation there, too.

Until next time

I hope you enjoyed this first issue and that Kendra's story and commitment to #RedefiningFitness inspires you to bring more heart, grit, and exploration to your own fitness journey, wherever it takes you. 

If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that here — make sure you don't miss future newsletters! You can also forward this to friends who need inspiration, too. 

I'll be back in March with another epic studio highlight (buckle your seatbelts). See you then!