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“Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or health care needs, have the right to: Be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities.”

But what happens when it doesn’t……

Imagine being a young black wannabe dancer in the 1930-1940’s in America. That was Kathy Stanford’s dream. But because of the prejudicial racial attitudes of that time, she had to go to the conservatory when no other students were there, was told she wasn’t allowed to touch the ballet barre and had to take private lessons away from the group of white dancers.  There were no black dance role models for her to follow and in many ways, dance was still considered “sinful”. That was Kathy’s experience.

Imagine being told as a child of 7 years old that you were too tall to be a dancer and you couldn’t join in to ballet. At 12 years old you were told you by a model agency that a scar on your head meant you didn’t have “perfect” skin, at 13 years old you get taunted for being tall, thin and flat chested, then at 18 years old get sexualised for having curves and big boobs and throughout your 30’s- 40’s, get told that you “looked more like an amazonian than someone who did Pilates” and later had a long hurtful trolling hate campaign slung your way, being told “you’re a heffer and a disgrace to the Pilates industry” because you didn’t fit into the stereotypes of “what a Pilates teacher should look like.” That was Michelle’s experience.

Maria Earle grew up in Hawaii, moved to New York where she eventually trained to be a Pilates teacher with The Pilates Centre, Boulder, and through Cara Reeser and Blossom Leilani Crawford, was introduced to Pilates Elder, Kathy Stanford Grant and went on to do a traditional apprenticeship with Kathy being a mentor to her for Pilates and as an inspiration as a black woman in fitness, dance and Pilates.

Hear Maria’s experience of what Kathy was like, and why Maria went on to making a 2 year project on her university thesis about Kathy’s life and work.

Michelle and Maria will talk about diversity, prejudices and inclusivity within the health and fitness industry, her experiences as a dancer, her Masters in Women’s History, Black Lives Matters and the profound impact Kathy had on Maria to be open minded and sensitive to being an empathetic teacher.

Enjoy this wonderfully honest Lockdown Live, with Maria and Michelle. Plus bonus bits where Maria introduces you to Kathy Grant’s work in “Before the Hundred”