Black women have made one thing clear when it comes to health and wellness: we want to feel represented when it comes to ad campaigns and access to quality services. Kim Walker, an accounting PhD candidate and Spin instructor, has faced challenges in her community as a student and as an instructor, but she's using those experiences to be a leader and activist on and off the bike.
Living in Wisconsin — which according to 2019 US Census data has an estimated population of 87.1 percent white people and 6.7 percent Black/African American people — was an adjustment for Walker coming from North Carolina. "Moving from the South to the Midwest was a huge culture change for me and I had a tough time when I first moved to Madison, [WI] just from the culture and a very homogenous population," Walker told POPSUGAR.
"It's a constant reminder of how different I am," she said. "You think about things much differently than your peers — [things] that they don't even have to think about. They have the privilege of not having to think about things that we [Black people] have to think about," she continued.
Walker describes herself as "a traditional kind of view of a Black woman in this very white town," adding that simply being Black in a predominately white environment "took me some getting used to, and still I kind of struggle with it today, so, my outlet was Spin class."
"I'm inducing courage and belief that they can do anything they want."
Initially, Walker began attending Spin classes when she had a bad day. "I had 45 minutes to not think about how I'm so different from people, not to think about what this person said to me; just to be in my own world for 45 minutes," she explained.
Eventually, her love of fitness, specifically Spin, would lead her to become an instructor at the local CycleBar. "For me, teaching Spin class is very similar to education. I'm not providing accounting knowledge but I'm providing confidence. I'm inducing courage and belief that they can do anything they want within the 45 minutes that we're in this studio."
Walker isn't a stranger to being treated differently based on the color of her skin, referencing situations like people talking slang to her in academic settings. She explained that these types of situations have "happened over and over and over again," admitting that she had internalized them for a period of time. But when she's teaching, Walker said, "I've learned that no one looks at me any differently. All they care about is that I'm a damn good instructor and I give them a damn good workout."
As a Black woman in fitness, Walker said she loves that she can demonstrate that our differences are what make us stronger. "I'm not a size eight, I'm a thicker person, but I like to work out," she said. "Just because I'm Black doesn't mean I'm not as efficient as someone else. Just because I'm different and I don't fit your mold doesn't mean I'm any less than."