My name is Ilya and I’m a non binary trans masculine person of color currently living in Charlotte, NC. I am the owner of Decolonizing Fitness, LLC. I’m a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and Medical Exercise Coach with over 13 years of rehabilitative and functional training experience. I firmly believe fitness can be reclaimed and utilized as a healing tool to help our most marginalized folks reconnect with their bodies in ways that feel supportive and liberating to them. My mission is to help make fitness more affirming and accessible to all bodies.
I am a social justice advocate, and educator whose work centers healing justice & gender justice. I am also a freelance writer and have contributed to Every Day Feminism, Self Magazine , Mashable and AthleteAlly.
I have rallied for more than 13 years as a grass-roots community organizer.
I am currently a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council for Atrium Care Systems (Central Division) and Board Member of the Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group.
I assist in educating various healthcare providers on ways they can better service their transgender and gender non conforming patients. I have helped to create and facilitate gender justice workshops, programs for faith based organizations and fitness centers.
Decolonizing Fitness (formerly known as Forseca Fitness) was established in memory of my good friend “Big J” Forseca who passed away of lung cancer in 2015. He was transgender, chronically ill and disabled. He was also cash poor and couldn’t afford most of the medical care he needed. When he was able to access medical care he often dreaded going to the doctor because he experienced so much discrimination. Sadly this is the story of many queer and trans people living in the United States, especially those of us located in rural areas.
Unfortunately, so many vulnerable populations can’t afford or are afraid to access medical providers. I try to incorporate education and services that will at least help aid folks along their path of feeling ok in their bodies (whatever that means to them). I use my knowledge from working in the medical industry, my social justice awareness and lived experiences —as a black trans person with chronic health issues—to carve space for folks who are often overlooked.
As a non binary fitness coach I am beginning to recognize the link between gender justice and fitness in my practice. This allows me to be more mindful of the ways the world seeks to disconnect me from my body. I want others to explore their physical potential, define and take control of their own bodies.
It’s time to reconnect with our unique cultural movement practices which exist beyond western standards of fitness.
We all deserve to move freely in our bodies if we so choose!