Bryan Myers made historical past when he turned president and CEO of the favored Pilates-inspired health model [solidcore] in April 2021.
The health business has lengthy been criticized for being too younger, too skinny, too straight and too White. No shocker there, proper? However contemplating that the typical Black girl wears a measurement 14 or above, not solely is it disappointing to not see ourselves represented within the total health area, nevertheless it’s additionally a gross misrepresentation of the final inhabitants.
Luckily, one government is on a mission to alter all that from the highest down: Bryan Myers. As president and CEO of the Pilates-based, full-body exercise coaching system [solidcore], he’s revising the “White, skinny, cisgender” health narrative—and making historical past as one of many nation’s few Black, LGBTQ+ CEOs spanning each business. “I stepped into the position as each a frontrunner of shade and a frontrunner who identifies as LGBT. For me, what it actually meant was persevering with to open these doorways for different underrepresented communities inside health, by means of illustration,” Myers says.
One doesn’t purchase a résumé like Myers’s with out loads of blood, sweat (actually) and tears. The Virginia native has an simple expertise for rising companies and for constructing sturdy, inclusive communities of purchasers and workers. Previous to becoming a member of the [solidcore] workforce as COO in 2018, Myers was VP of Improvement for the quick, informal salad chain Sweetgreen, serving to develop the model from round 20 areas to 90.
“We nonetheless have an extended approach to go at [solidcore],” says Myers. “When folks congratulate me for the work that we’ve accomplished—we’ve got extra leaders of shade than any main health model on the market—I’m like, sure, I admire it, and we’ve made nice strides, however let’s not idiot ourselves. We’ve a lot extra to do—as a result of we’re nonetheless overwhelmingly White, regardless of the work that we’ve already accomplished. We’re nonetheless overwhelmingly skinny, regardless of the work that we’ve accomplished. We’re nonetheless overwhelmingly heterosexual, regardless of the work that we’ve accomplished. So it’s a journey, and it’s a course of.”
Sadly, making gyms and health studios extra numerous isn’t so simple as hanging a “Welcome” signal on the door. These points are part of long-standing inequities that affect nearly each company in america. Previous to taking up the position of CEO in April 2021, Myers led the corporate’s Variety, Fairness and Inclusion job power, committing to creating each member of the group really feel revered, supported, motivated, empowered and engaged.
“I feel one of many challenges that I typically really feel, rightly or wrongly, is that as a result of I’m within the place that I’m in, I’ve to single-handedly resolve variety inside the total health business myself—and all inside my first two years of being a CEO at [solidcore],” Myers admits.
“The rationale that it’s known as systemic racism is as a result of it’s entrenched within the system itself,” notes Myers. “So we’ve got to alter the system—not a person, proper? One particular person is part of the system, however one particular person can not change the entire. I’m the one Black CEO of a serious health firm. I can not single-handedly change the system. We’ve to get extra of us into these roles, in order that we are able to drive systemic change. And I feel that’s the place typically folks’s frustration on the drawback that they see will get taken out on the person, when what we’re actually speaking about is the necessity to handle a bigger systemic situation and problem.”
Since [solidcore] opened its first studio in Washington, D.C., in 2013, it has turn into one of many fastest-growing firms within the health sector—with greater than 90 areas throughout 24 states at the moment and tons of of hundreds of purchasers, together with Michelle Obama. It provides arguably one of many hardest routines you’ll ever encounter: a 50-minute, intense, full-body exercise that mixes Pilates and energy coaching to take health conditioning to a complete new degree.
Popularized throughout an ESSENCE pink carpet interview on the 2022 Met Gala, when Lori Harvey famously shared that Pilates was the key to her toned physique, the exercise shortly turned a TikTok craze amongst Black girls. Myers readily admits that the Harvey interview added extra attraction to the health model. “When Lori Harvey began speaking about Pilates, the [solidcore] mentions had been off the chart,” he says. “And so it undoubtedly had a constructive impact on our enterprise. I can’t quantify precisely how a lot of an affect it had, however particularly for ladies of shade, so many individuals had been like, ‘Oh, wait, Lori Harvey is speaking about Pilates. Okay, that’s what I have to do.’”
Bringing the identical vigor he had in rising the Sweetgreen chain, the 35-year-old College of Virginia graduate is now guiding a fast-paced and aggressive plan for [solidcore]’s growth throughout the nation. “We’ll proceed so as to add extra studios, however the place we actually are focusing our energies is on how we make our current studios even better,” says Myers of the corporate’s present technique.
“And so as we speak, once we have a look at our current areas, we see that they’re acting at roughly 30 p.c increased than they had been earlier than the pandemic,” he provides. “We had an amazing enterprise earlier than the pandemic. However we’ve actually leveled up our sport—and the way we take into consideration driving deeper penetration of our inclusivity mission and extra member engagement.”