These 10 Black Women Are Transforming Philly’s Fitness Scene

If you don't already know their names, you should.

black women

Jayel Lewis is one of many black women who are making a name for themselves in Philly’s fitness scene. / Photograph courtesy Fitler Club

Whether they’re entrepreneurs, yoga instructors, or mental health experts, black women are shaking up the health and wellness landscape in Philly. Here are 10 who should be on your radar.

Kiera Smalls and Takia McClendon


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In 2013, friends Kiera Smalls and Takia McClendon launched Best of Philly–winning City Fit Girls, a running group and wellness community geared toward women of all fitness levels. What started as a few pals trying to achieve their workout goals turned into a much larger movement: making exercise accessible to all women, regardless of race, pace, age, body type, sexual orientation, or income level. (Most of City Fit Girls’ online content and events are free.) The pair also hosts the annual FitRetreat, a full day of fitness classes and workshops complete with post-workout massages, mental health workshops, and more. Look out for 2019 details later this year.

Anastasia and Jasmine Bailey


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In a city booming with boutique gyms and studios, these sisters noticed few spaces focusing on mental fitness. So Anastasia and Jasmine Bailey opened Vitality Meditation, a meditation studio where anyone can come to work on stress management (because, let’s face it, we all need help in that area). Vitality Meditation hosts classes such as “Intro to Meditation,” “Mindfulness,” and “Breathwork & Reiki,” all led by experts from around the city. The Fishtown studio also hosts monthly wellness events if you’re looking for a place to start. Find the whole class schedule here.

Ronnie Howard and Cohbe Berkeley


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Self-proclaimed “yoga jawn” Ronnie Howard and veteran yogi Cohbe Berkeley founded Vibes & Vinyasa, a traveling yoga tribe focused on changing misconceptions about who can practice the ancient art. (Answer: Everyone!) The group is committed to creating safe, inclusive spaces to practice your flow, welcoming every body type, fitness level, gender, and ethnicity. This month, try out the #SelfCareSaturday Series, a yoga and meditation collaboration with Vitality Meditation. Reserve your spot here.

Alexis Rose


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Although Alexis Rose is a New Yorker at heart, her boutique fitness and dance company, the Alexis Rose Xperience, is based right here in Philly. Her fitness journey started as a backup dancer and choreographer for acts like Ciara and Trey Songz. Now she’s sharing the empowerment she found through classes at the Institute of Dance Artistry in Fort Washington and 954 Dance Movement Collective in the city. See her schedule here.

Alanna Gardner


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As a trainer, marriage and family therapist, and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, nearly every aspect of Alanna Gardner’s professional life revolves around helping others become their healthiest selves. And we haven’t even talked about her outrageous Flywheel and SLT classes.

Adriana Adelé


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This Three Queens Yoga veteran’s Namaslay class is famed around the city for its hip-hop and R&B soundtrack and its high-energy vibe. (She taught it at Be Well Philly’s boot camp this past June, and it, well, slayed.) Now she’s teamed up with Gardner (see above) to launch Aalign to Redefine, a panel series with a wellness bent that aims to explore and redefine big concepts like nutrition, mental health, and diversity. The first one, in January, was all kinds of insightful, and we’re already clamoring for the next session.

Jayel Lewis


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Fitler Club has been on our radar for months as the coolest new private club — and once it opens, it’ll come with a massive gym known as the Field House, helmed by star personal trainer Jayel Lewis. While Lewis is still in the process of hiring staff, she already has big plans to shake up the fitness space, offering classes targeting four core areas (mobilty, agility, speed, and strength) that are paired with wellness options such as spa treatments, nutrition counseling, and a meditation room. So. ready.

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