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How Voting Affects Fitness For You & Your Community, According To Instructors

With the 2020 elections just on the other side of this month, voting is top of mind for a lot of people. There’s a lot at stake in this election, and if you’re turning to fitness to sweat the stress away, you’re probably not the only one. But fitness and voting have even more to do with each other than you’d think.

Your access to workout spaces — whether that’s a local park with a track or a boutique studio — is fundamentally shaped by voting, says Nicole Cardoza, a yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Foster and the newsletter Anti-Racism Daily. “There are systemic issues perpetuated in the studios we hold dear and in the spaces that we occupy when we’re trying to be well,” Cardoza says. “So when we want to feel well in studios, it’s really about looking at that overarching system of racism and dismantling it. A lot of that, especially in the next few weeks, comes down to the actions we take at our polls.”

How Do Politics Shape Fitness Culture?

Pretty much everything about your gym or fitness studio is shaped by who’s in office in your area, Cardoza explains, pointing in particular to access to public transportation, instructor pay, and basic neighborhood safety where studios are located.

T’Nisha Symone, founder of luxury fitness club BLAQUE, tells Bustle that zoning laws have a lot to do with the presence — or lack thereof — of accessible fitness spaces in Black and brown neighborhoods. “State and local governments decide how neighborhoods are constructed and as a result, what kind of fitness and wellness behaviors the people in these communities will have access to,” she explains. “Whether or not these resources are available is something that can and should inform our voting behaviors at the local level.”

Access to fitness resources has to do with both private and public interests. A 2019 analysis conducted by Bloomberg found that franchises like CrossFit, Barry’s Boot Camp, and Pure Barre are usually located in neighborhoods that are over 80% white. Of the other 13 fitness franchises included in the analysis, 12 were also located in areas with an average of 70-80% white people. The data also revealed that clubs like Equinox and SoulCycle are often located in gentrifying neighborhoods, drawing in more affluent and white clientele rather than serving the often BIPOC, low-income communities that have been living there.

“Wellness is political,” says Helen Phelan, a Pilates instructor who specializes in body neutrality and mindfulness. “To serve only one type of person is political. To avoid making a statement or ‘getting political’ is a privilege and a political statement all in itself.”

What people learn, say, and even wear in studios is also political. “If you say ‘namaste’ at the end of your practice or wear Mala beads, you need to be standing up for racial injustice,” says Ali Duncan, a yoga instructor and the founder of Urban Sanctuary, the first women-run, Black-owned yoga studio in Denver, Colorado. “So

Knorr and Dascha Polanco Launch #FeedTheVote to Elevate Access to Nutritious Food as an Issue This Voting Season

Dascha Polanco Partners with Knorr to Encourage Americans to Register to Vote

This election season, a record 54 million people living in America face food insecurity*. Today, Knorr, in partnership with Dascha Polanco – an actress who has formerly experienced food insecurity and was a recipient of SNAP benefits – is launching #FeedTheVote. This partnership will work to drive voter registration across the US to ensure people experiencing food insecurity can make their voices heard where it matters most – at the ballot box. Through social media and on-site locations throughout the country, Knorr will provide education, resources, and access to nutritious food to encourage voter registration and advocacy for millions of Americans experiencing food insecurity.

Since 1979 Knorr has worked closely with Feeding America, The Food Trust, and other partners to provide families with consistent access to nutritious food. The brand is now advocating for wider systemic change with Dascha Polanco to elevate the connection between hunger, food assistance and voting this election season.

“Quite simply, no one should go hungry. At Knorr, we believe everyone should have access to affordable and nutritious food. As we strive to make that belief a reality through our products and recipes, we know that food access is a government funding issue – and thus, a voting issue,” said Bentley King, Director, Savory North America at Unilever. “Working hand in hand with experts in this space like Feeding America, UnidosUS and our partner Dascha, we’re committed to encouraging everyone to register to vote and enabling Americans to impact policy that help their family eat healthier.”

Today, Dascha Polanco and a team of #FeedTheVote ambassadors will share empty plates to symbolize the millions of Americans who will not have food on the table unless elected officials make hunger and food access a priority this November. Posts will link to Knorr’s #FeedTheVote website where followers can register to vote and learn more about how they can advocate for access to nutritious food.

“As someone who knows what it feels like to not know where your next meal is coming from, I was inspired to do everything in my power to draw attention to the difference we can make by voting,” said Dascha Polanco. “I’m excited to partner with Knorr to educate Americans about the power of their vote and the steps they can take to become part of the solution in ending food insecurity.”

#FeedTheVote has also collaborated with UnidosUS to provide 4,000 families with resources to create nutritious meals at home. As the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, UnidosUS has been at the forefront of alleviating food insecurity and has actively registered and educated new voters. At select UnidosUS partner affiliate sites people can register to vote, locations include:

  • AAMA (The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans): 6001 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77023

  • Chicano Federation: 3180 University Avenue, Suite 400, San Diego, CA 92104

  • Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO) : 12000 East 47th