Sometimes I look around when I am at a running event or a fitness class and think where all the people of different ethnicities are. Don't get me wrong, I have never been discriminated or made to feel unwelcome. Far from it in fact. However, I it always bugs me why I am often the only one of a different colour or a small handful of people from ethnic backgrounds that attends things of this nature.
I love fitness and am often taking part in some physical activity whether for pleasure or fundraising for my charity The Lewis Foundation. So most of my weekends involve obstacle runs, fun runs or attending a fitness class somewhere around the country. I'm willing to turn up and try anything. When I do, I don't think will someone the same colour as me will be there. I just think race, I'm there!
I know there must be people out there of all ethnic backgrounds who love different types of physical activity. However, it isn't reflected in terms of the number of people who physically take part.
When you do see someone at a race, who is of a black or some other ethnic origin, you both do that thing where you give that nod and smile. Like, hey you're like me. I know it sounds weird and absolutely mental. It just really hard to explain, it is a feeling that you get. Not that you have time to speak to that person. However, seeing someone from a different ethnic background makes me happy, like yes there is truly other people like me who want to give it a go!
I feel advertisement plays a huge part in this. It is rare to see someone of a different ethnicity being used as publicity for a race or on the front page of a fitness magazine. I would say particularly for women's magazines. It creates a perception that I can't take part because I don't look a certain way. As there is no one that looks like me there, I'm going to be made to feel unwanted. All this in reality is untrue. However, the media is powerful thing. Not everyone is going to be like me and say screw it I don't care who is there, I'm going to turn up. A lot of people experience discrimination in their life on a daily basis, so want to do whatever they can to avoid any other opportunities for this to happen.
A lot of places are not sensitive to cultural existences. For example I used to go to a fabulous gym in Northampton called Derngate Gym before if closed down. What I loved about it was it was the only gym I had ever seen that was truly diverse. They had a women's section. In that section I used to see all nationalities. I would see women in hijabs and Burkas. No one gave a stuff about health and safety, they allowed the women to crack on. I used to love watching these groups of women come in together, have a social chat and workout. I often wonder once these gyms closed what happened to these women.
I saw a recent post about Nike doing a Hijab. I thought awesome, why not. Not only did it look super cool but it would track other women to think yes I can buy this, wear this and do sports.
I think more in the fitness industry needs to be done to promote different ethnic minorities to show everyone is welcome no matter what you look like or what your background is. Until then, I am going to do my part posting pictures me at every fitness event I do. If it encourages one more person to take part, then I'm happy.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org