In our monthly profile series Meet the Trailblazers, Fitbit is seeking to amplify diversity in the world of wellness and fitness by featuring the voices of POC trailblazers at the helm of these industries—industries that have discredited voices like theirs for too long.
This month, we’re highlighting the extraordinary work of Chloe Freeman, Dom Chatterjee, and Tisha Alyn, three leaders making waves in these spaces, and as proud members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We’re excited to share the inspiring conversations we had with them.
Ever since its origins in June 1970, when—on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City—thousands of LGBTQIA+ activists, supporters, and allies gathered to march, Pride has become a celebration of the community. Here at Fitbit, we know how important it is to continue educating ourselves while supporting LGBTQIA+ people and causes.
That’s why we turned to the three leaders showcased below to share their experiences, accomplishments, and powerful insight. Keep reading to find out more about them, their work, and the positive changes they are making in their communities.
Chloe Freeman (they/them and she/her), For Them
It wasn’t actor and producer Chloe Freeman’s intention to create a queer wellness brand, they say. Initially, they set out to solve a problem—and that problem was the lack of comfortable and accessible Binders in the market. If you’re not familiar, a Binder is an item of clothing used to decrease or flatten the appearance of the chest area.
“After testing, iterating, making and now selling Binders, I started to look at what this could really be, what category did this product belong to? It didn’t feel like fashion or utility. It’s wellness,” Chloe, who identifies as non-binary, shares with Fitbit. “And then it was like pulling a thread, the more I reflected on what was available for me day to day as a gender non-conforming person experiencing life through a queer lens, I realised we are not just under served in our wellness needs, but not served at all.”
That’s where For Them came in. “When I talk about my ‘wellness’, what we are really talking about is a person’s ability to walk through life able to feel their most ‘well’ and authentic selves,” Chloe explains. And For Them is founded on that vision, both with an awareness of its necessity—especially for groups to whom that has not always been accessible—and as a way forward in the wellness industry, which has been traditionally cis-het focused.
Now, though, that continues to shift and evolve—especially with incredible work like Chloe’s helping to pave the way. “I’m seeing amazing, inspiring Black founders who are really dialed into their communities and what they need. This gives me hope that positions of decision-making power are moving towards a more equitable place, which is incredibly important to me,” they say.
According to Chloe, For Them is not led by trends, but rather by the lived experiences of their community. By leading conversations in direct and often vulnerable ways, they are able to get to the “heart of these lived experiences,” and then serve those who need them most with intentionally created products. “We say ‘binaries are meant to be broken,’ and this applies across the board to gender, sexuality, wellness, and race,” Chloe continues.
And when it comes to the journey of personal well-being and self care, Chloe is looking to leave behind the definition of optimal wellness as being transactional, so-to-speak, or like it’s a destination to arrive at. “I am a very goal-driven person, so I have to be mindful not to treat my being well as an end state,” Chloe shares. “I feel much better when I approach it as exploration, trying new things without too much expectation around whether they will ‘work’ or not. Then it just becomes an evolving approach to life rather than a mission, and everything I do in life is an opportunity to refine towards authenticity.”
Interested in learning more about the work Chloe is doing with For Them? Check out the For Them website here, and follow them on Instagram here.
Dom Chatterjee (they/them and he/him), Rest for Resistance
As one of the founders of Rest for Resistance, a safe healing space meant to uplift marginalized groups, and as a queer, non-binary multiracial person, Dom Chatterjee is familiar with telling minority stories of healing. They first created QTPoC Mental Health in 2015 as a grassroots organization for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC)—providing both online and in-person offerings in Brooklyn, New York.
Due to ongoing frustrations with the ways in which QTPoC stories were shared in the media, Dom, a long-time social justice advocate, then felt compelled to create Rest for Resistance in late 2017. It would become a platform for the community to be unapologetic in sharing about mental health awareness and resources, specifically tailored for their needs.
It’s more crucial than ever that communities and platforms like these exist—and serve to help empower the marginalized groups that need them most, especially when healing from trauma. Dom’s own experiences have fueled their understanding of what shapes these needs. They say social location is a central force in this, as well as dictating the resources that may be available.
“Before QTPoC Mental Health, I had nowhere to explore how being South Asian impacts my experience as someone with bipolar disorder,” Dom shares. “I had no validation that being in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community impacts my experience as someone with OCD. And I had no resources to address identity-related traumas I had undergone. Without being able to detail my life and history in a way that acknowledged all these complexities, I had no pathway to my own hopeful future.”
Despite the challenges of COVID, there’s a lot that Dom is hopeful about. “After practicing so much more self-care in the past few years, we’re moving toward a deeper, more complex understanding of rest as something beyond naps, beyond [binge-watching], and beyond ‘time off,’” they add. “I’m excited to dig more into the work/rest dichotomy and see how opportunities to access complex rest can be made more accessible to all.”
And it’s evident that deep and complex rest is, indeed, integral to the continued work of resistance—which is, after all, a marathon and not a race. Dom has seen that firsthand during COVID, when a huge challenge they faced was learning to rest until the community was able to flourish on its own once again. “I notice we rarely count healing that happens in slowness, while rushing to celebrate the healing that happens in activity,” they say. “For example, someone can begin to train strength and flexibility and switch up their diet, and the results get celebrated, even if that increased activity leads to a repetitive stress injury. Once that injury becomes known, the body’s healing calls for slowness.”
As many of us know, healing is not linear, and can sometimes be a slow process. “Healing can happen in every moment and is not about appearances,” Dom continues. “Taking time off from the gym to heal that repetitive stress injury is just as valuable as keeping up the fitness routine in the first place, and the emotional healing that happens alongside both active and passive physical healing is invaluable as well. I’m learning to celebrate my healing at every point in the process.”
Interested in learning more about Dom and their work? Check out the Rest for Resistance website here and on Instagram here.
Tisha Alyn (she/her), pro athlete, fitness instructor, and Fitbit ambassador
Growing up, Tisha Alyn didn’t see many other women of color in the AAPI community who were in front of the camera. She’s no stranger to having a golf club in her hand, having started golfing at age three, entering her first competition at seven years old, and going pro right out of college. By 2016, she’d played over 20 professional golfing events.
It wasn’t long before she began meshing her experiences as a Filipina-American pro athlete, golf media personality, and trickshotter into becoming a rising social media star. After touring nonstop for several years, Tisha played her last professional tournament in 2018, pivoting to focus her energy on pursuing a career as an influencer. Because she’s always on the go, Tisha’s preferred form of self-care is taking the time to intentionally connect with her loved ones, whenever she can spare a moment to do so.
Now, she’s one of Fitbit’s Premium trainers and first AAPI leading face. “Representation is so important, because I feel like when there is someone in the public eye that is relatable to you in any way, it brings you a safe space and a sense of community,” Tisha shares.
And it’s clear that a sense of community is important to her. After she came out in 2019, Tisha became a role model for other women in the AAPI, LGBTQIA+, and professional golf communities, as a passionate advocate for both their representation and rights. In her experience, Tisha finds that it’s most important for queer and POC folx to have access to resources or services that make “those who identify with these communities feel seen, heard, and safe.”
She also became involved with the Trevor Project, an inspiring nonprofit organization that provides resources for and focuses on suicide prevention efforts for LGBTQIA+ youth. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved with a few campaigns for the Trevor Project,” Tisha says. “I am passionate about the work that goes behind this foundation because it builds awareness for a service that I didn’t know existed during my hardest of times before coming out. If I had known, it would have made me feel less alone.” It’s evident that her work helps others feel less alone, too.
Interested in learning more about Tisha? Check out her website here, follow her on Instagram here, and be sure to check out her latest content drop on Fitbit Premium, including this celebratory workout video in support of Pride.
The post We Spoke with 3 Inspiring LGBTQIA+ Creators on Queering Wellness, Telling Stories of Healing, and the Importance of Representation appeared first on Fitbit Blog.