My dear friend and colleague, Holly Furgason, owner of Blue Sparrow Pilates in San Francisco is well known for her passion and activism, so I wasn’t surprised in 2019 when I received the letter below only days after she told me she had an “idea."
"The Pilates field should reflect our larger society and be a leader in creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces for movement. On this note, I’d like to invite you to participate in my new project, Pilates Diversity Scholarship.
Pilates Diversity Scholarship is reaching out to studios with Pilates teacher training programs to request the development of a scholarship to support increased diversity, inclusion, and equity in the Pilates field. During the initial pilot phase, the focus of scholarships will be on teacher training scholarships for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
One way to have more racial diversity in Pilates is to have more teachers of color."
I immediately replied:
YES HOLLY! We are joining your organization and pledge to award 4 scholarships per year.
Equilibrium announced two scholarships in 2018; one to a person of color and one to an unemployed veteran. We were not successful in recruiting interested people.
I knew that with Holly’s vision and organization, we would reach a wider audience and successfully provide scholarships.
After submitting our first scholarship offer, I asked our intern, Meekie Inman, a young black college student, if she thought the Pilates Diversity Scholarship was a good idea.
Her words speak volumes, and I hope they will inspire other Pilates Training Programs to join Equilibrium in offering a teacher training scholarship through the Pilates Diversity Scholarship project.
To A Better Future!
Scholarships for Pilates Teachers of Color
by Meekie Inman
Digital Media Intern @ Equilibrium Studio
Yes, and yes! (two because it’s a two-part reaction)
Firstly, acknowledging limits to expendable wealth to invest in education means an opportunity like this can be life-changing for the individual teacher. Now I am not being hyperbolic, at least I don’t think so. As seen with first-generation students in colleges/universities, economic boundaries are the main limitation of the experience of higher education. Offering scholarships to find teachers of color opens up opportunities for people of color to further their education and working towards a new job field, which is a great idea.
Secondly, representation is king!
When has more exercise hurt? Also, as mentioned before, representation is more than people give it credit for. Feeling included or being able to see oneself in a leader has been shown to be beneficial to want to participate. For black students, for example, racial tensions may keep them from feeling comfortable in settings that appear predominated by whiteness. Opening the floor up to teachers of color may give BIPOC the opportunity to try new ways of caring for their physical and subsequently mental health. Pilates is a welcoming form of exercise that may seem inaccessible to some simply because they do not see people who look like them doing it. With Pilates teachers of colors, there may be a “new” kind of exercise for BIPOC to look to.