Discover Strength Fitness Studio Shines Light on Industry’s Diversity Problem
Since Minnesota Governor Tim Walz lifted some of the coronavirus restrictions earlier this month and allowed gyms to reopen June 10 at 25% capacity, people are getting back to their fitness routines.
“We are thrilled to have our physical studios back open,” said Luke Carlson, CEO and founder of Discover Strength.
Discover Strength is a boutique fitness studio with five Twin Cities locations, including one in Plymouth, where clients get one-on-one attention.
“So our concept is, two workouts per week, 30-minutes long, strength training focus with an expert, highly educated trainer,” Carlson said.
Trainers such as Matt Xiong put their clients through rigorous workouts.
Xiong is one of just a handful of minorities employed by Discover Strength. Carlson says his company — and the fitness industry as a whole — can do better when it comes to diversity.
“What I want to understand is, do we have biases and unconscious biases in our processes where we’re not attracting minorities,” Carlson said. “Or somehow our interview process and our onboarding process is not conducive to promoting more minorities in employment and management positions in the organization.”
A long overdue conversation
To help kick off that discussion, the company is hosting a free webinar on Monday, June 22 to have an open dialogue about race in the fitness industry.
“I think it’s a conversation that’s long overdue,” said Randall Hunt, one of the speakers taking part in Monday’s event.
Hunt is the Florida-based CEO of Athletic Apex health clubs, which has locations in three states.
“Generally, our culture is just different,” Hunt said, referring to African-Americans. “We’re more sport-based versus health-based.”
Hunt says the black community needs to better understand the long-term health benefits of exercise, but at the same time, leaders in the fitness industry also need to do a better job of attracting a diverse workforce.
“It’s predominantly white people that come to fitness centers,” Hunt said. “I think a lot of business owners cater to that demographic. But they’re also missing a big, massive part of the demographic that could be touched. So by hiring diverse, hiring African-Americans, hiring minorities to work, people of color are going to feel more comfortable walking into your facility, which is going to be additional revenue.”
That’s just one of several topics he plans to address on June 22.
Meanwhile, back at Discover Fitness in Plymouth, Carlson looks forward to the discussion. He hopes others in the fitness industry join in.
“We’ll focus on listening first, and then we’ll talk about what do we do next, what do we do to improve the situation?” he said. “Rather than just assuming a posture of listening, we want to listen first and then talk about what can we do next as an industry.”