According to a published paper titled “Gender and Cultural Diversity in Sports, Exercise, and Performance Psychology” by Diane Gill in 2017, the study of gender and culture, which influences physical activity—specifically sports and exercise—has not only been slow to recognize cultural diversity, but also only marginally addresses race and ethnicity. Members of underrepresented groups often struggle against cultural norms. In fact, according to the same paper, members of underrepresented groups traditionally have lower levels of physical activity and physical well-being.
Nevertheless, members of underrepresented groups at Colorado College continue to contribute to the fitness community and thrive within their specific fields. These individuals offer further insight into the CC health and fitness community through their unique views and their experiences.
Bita Kavoosi ‘20, an Iranian first-generation American, teaches a Zumba fitness class at the El Pomar Sports Center. As a fitness instructor, she feels empowered in a gym environment. Currently taking a semester abroad, Kavoosi made clear distinctions between her current gym environment and the gym at CC. “While CC is definitely healthier, there is clearly an uneven proportion of white men using the gym,” she said. “Here, [at her current campus] people using the gym tend to be more diverse but not as fit.” Still, Kavoosi finds her work in the sports center incredibly rewarding. Kavoosi enjoys the gym community at CC and the frequenters of her class. She values the connections she has made and notes that working out on campus provides an opportunity to “talk, catch up, or study together” while exercising.
Miguel Mendez ‘19, a Hispanic first-generation student and intramural sport supervisor, shared some insight into the fitness community, particularly the gym. “The afternoon crowd at the gym is always big but predominantly filled with white women upstairs in the cardio part of the gym with a few men on the treadmills,” Mendez explained. “During Block Breaks, it’s a lot of students of color in the gym… It’s a complete 180 in terms of diversity in the gym.” Most students recognize that many international students, students of color, and other members of underrepresented groups tend to stay on campus over Block Breaks more than their peers with greater access to off-campus trips and activities. For these expressed reasons, the Butler Center actively works with Campus Activities to create inclusive and accessible Block Break programming and events.
Mendez also said that the gym and health and wellness spaces on campus provide a supportive community. Mendez plays on numerous IM teams and supervises IM sports for his job; he finds solace in these communities. While Mendez acknowledges clear patterns in who participates in our health and wellness activities on campus, he still considers the health and wellness initiatives on campus a supportive space.
Underrepresented members of the CC community continue to contribute and strengthen health and well-being on campus. As Kavoosi and Mendez acknowledge distinctive patterns in gym usage, both acknowledge the universal benefits to all members of the CC fitness community.