SoulCycle Pro Kamelle Mills Talks Representation In Fitness - Exclusive

If you search for #fitnessinstructor on Instagram, it's hard to ignore the fact that most of the people in the pictures have a very similar look. The women are almost always thin but toned, and predominantly white. The men are all muscles, and again, predominantly white. Though Instagram isn't a spot on representation of the fitness industry as a whole, it does contribute to perpetuating a certain beauty standard, idolizing those who are lean, toned, and white. And this "look" can make a lot of people feel like they don't fit into the fitness world.

That's why some fitness professionals, including SoulCycle instructor Kamelle Mills, are dedicating their careers to changing the "look" associated with fitness. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, Mills shared why it was so important for him to see all types of bodies in the fitness world and how this inspired him to become a SoulCycle instructor.

Seeing yourself in the fitness world

One of the things that changed Mills' own fitness journey was seeing people that looked like him participating in and teaching SoulCycle classes.

"What I love about SoulCycle, is that when I went there, I saw people of different colors in the class, different colors, different shapes, different sizes, different challenges," Mills said. "So even though I was intimidated and hesitant and apprehensive, that little bit of hope... was there because I saw the likeness of myself."

Mills explained that going to a fitness class can be intimidating for people, especially if their body doesn't look like what they think a fitness body is supposed to look like. So, when they walk into a SoulCycle class and see all sorts of bodies, it's a reminder that everyone, with any type of body, belongs. It's also a reminder that "people show up and show out, despite what society tells you looks like working out, what you should look like to work out."

The significance of diverse instructors

When Mills started attending SoulCycle classes, one of the first things he noticed was that the instructors were diverse which led him to believe he could instruct too. And the instructors at his home studio were totally supportive.

"They were like, you should audition," Mills recalled. "I was like 'me?' They're like, 'yes, you! Audition!' And before you knew it, I was auditioning... That was a beautiful thing that people could see this potential in me, no matter what I look like, that you could do this job and do it well."

Mills emphasized that if he hadn't seen all sorts of people teaching SoulCycle classes, he may never have believed that he could teach a class. He added that seeing instructors who didn't look one specific way gave him the inspiration he needed to stop trying to achieve the look he associated with fitness.

"It gave me permission to let go," Mills explained. "I used to kill myself trying to look one way. And then I was like, 'It's not about that.' Then I got to be my real self and own my body in its true form strong, but not looking like whatever so and so looks like."

Catch Kamelle at SoulCycle Miami! Book a bike here.