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Meet The Black Woman Changing The Face Of Fitness As lululemon’s Newest Global Ambassadors

To be a Black woman in fitness is often to be the only one. Sure, diversity equity and inclusion may be among the buzziest of buzzwords this year, but for Black women fitness leaders like Deja Riley and Pilin Anice taking up space in a very white fitness world isn’t new. It also hasn’t been easy. Still it’s a cause both women have been dedicated to for years.

Pilin Anice knows how important representation is for women and especially women of color. Anice’s first experience with yoga was at the renown historically Black institution— Howard University. A truly unique introduction into the space of wellness, Anice remembers, “My first yoga class was at Howard University and I was taught by a black woman. So the practice was always something that I saw as accessible. Even when I got to New York and saw that there weren’t a lot of people of color [and] I would be the only black person in my class. I never felt like the practice wasn’t for me. I think it was because of that introduction of having my first teacher be a black woman.”

Representation or the lack of it in the wellness space has a huge impact because it literally affects the health and well being of those less visible. Anice works everyday to create an inclusive experience for other Black and brown women around the globe as a yoga instructor with the Mirror app and as a global ambassador for lululemon. As a ERYT- 500, yoga, dance, meditation and wellness expert, Anice wants to create space for other black women and women of color to see themselves in yoga and to bring them into this healing practice to support their overall health and wellness. 

But most women of color across the US, never see themselves exemplified as the standard of beauty and certainly not as the pinnacle of fitness. But that is beginning to change more and more with women like Deja Riley and the latest lululemon campaign.

There is an exceptionally fit black woman rocking braids on billboards across the world. That woman is Deja Riley. The former professional dancer turned Fitness and wellness leader is ecstatic about her role as a new lululemon global ambassador. “It feels fulfilling, honorable and exhilarating to be a part of lululemon’s biggest campaign. Knowing that the work that I have done to not only uplift myself but to motivate, represent and advocate for others — especially people of color — has manifested into this, is definitely MAJOR,” says Deja Riley, a lululemon ambassador and Mirror trainer.

Undoubtedly, representation in media and advertising is perhaps one of the most pivotal, creating an indelible impact on those who encounter it. Studies have shown that among media, advertising can affect one’s perceptions of one’s self and others. But for people seeing something as simple as a billboard featuring Deja Riley that impact can be a positive one. Wellness becomes that much more accessible for every woman of color who sees Riley on a billboard or takes a yoga class with Anice via the Mirror app. It’s as simple as—”seeing yourself” says Riley.

“Seeing yourself represented in the fitness space reminds one of a sense of belonging and possibility. Women of color and Black women especially, we’re re-writing the standards of beauty and we deserve to be seen on a global stage. Ensuring the space is inclusive, welcoming and encouraging is essential,” says Deja Riley, a lululemon ambassador and Mirror trainer. 

Before launching her own fitness brand, Deja Riley was a backup dancer for the likes of Beyoncé, Trey Songz, and Lady Gaga. The daughter of famed producer, singer, songwriter and New Jack Swing king Teddy Riley, used her own talent to get into the fitness industry and worked her way up with pure determination. She’s been doing this for a while. And she isn’t the only one. Black and brown women have been leading and teaching their own brand of fitness for decades; but have been widely ignored by corporate industry leaders. lululemon’s new campaign “FEEL”featuring Riley is a step in the right direction.

lululemon CEO, Calvin McDonald recently announced lululemon’s new initiative to become more conscious around inclusion and diversity. “At lululemon, we are in the midst of a journey to drive meaningful, lasting change in the world and promote wellbeing across our communities. As part of our Impact Agenda we are accelerating programs to become a more inclusive and diverse company. After many real and impactful conversations with our underrepresented employees and our greater community, we heard loud and clear that we need to change behaviors both within our own walls and our collective.”

CEO Calvin McDonald, together with lululemon Senior Leadership, have made the following commitments to stand up and fund Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Action within the organization.

1. Increase funding, accelerate actions and create accountability for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action

2. Create an ongoing dialogue between underrepresented members of the collective with Calvin McDonald and Senior Leadership Team

3. Expand our training, learning and development to support Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

4. Increase diverse representation among our employees and collective

5. Use the lululemon brand and voice to advocate for change

Read more about lululemon’s initiative here.

Discover More about Pilin Anice and Deja Riley Here.

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