Hi I'm Ilya (he/they) and I am the founder of Decolonizing Fitness. I am coming to you from land that was traditionally part of the territory of the Saponi people, in the Piedmont area of what is now known as the state of North Carolina.
I have over 11 years of experience as a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant primarily working in Level 1 trauma centers and home health settings. I've also been a ACE certified Medical Exercise Specialist for the last 6 years. I am a writer and educator with my work being highlighted in Deconstructing the Fitness Industrial Complex, the second edition of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves and Reclaiming Body Trust: A Path to Healing and Liberation. Ilya also been featured in Ebony, Men’s Health, Self Magazine and a guest on the Food Psych Podcast
My Intersecting Identities and Limitations:
I am a Black trans masculine person, US born, neuroconforming, in a small fat body with 2 chronic illnesses and mobility issues. However. I can mostly get around and get his needs met. I carry a traumatic history in maneuvering both the medical and fitness industrial complex. I have endured several years of not having access to affordable, safe and supportive healthcare primarily due to anti-Blackness, fatphobia and transphobia. I also have a history of disordered eating, extreme dieting and over exercising but I do have access to food, an ED therapist and education.
I love hiking, reading, curating dope musical playlists for my loved ones and discovering lots of amazing food. I am also deeply introverted and require lots of time in solitude to restore.
How Decolonizing Fitness Came to Be
I know all too well how difficult it can be to navigate the challenges of developing and sustaining a supportive relationship with movement, especially in a fitness industry that devalues those who exist beyond normative beauty standards. So I founded Decolonizing Fitness (DF) in 2015 in an effort to help dismantle toxic fitness culture. DF began as a mobile personal training service intended to help reshape the world of fitness for trans masculine and gender expansive people – particularly Black folks in larger bodies. I focused my work on highlighting the complexities and barriers that we face in mainstream fitness culture, while also building new, more supportive systems to replace them.
Decolonizing Fitness has since expanded to an online resource hub for coaches, gym owners, personal trainers and anyone who is invested in cultivating movement spaces that are more affirming and supportive to diverse bodies.
As I continue to solidify myself as a writer and educator in the fitness industry I hope to one become a published author and help transform the information taught in fitness curricula and personal trainer certifications throughout the world.