April is Black Women’s Fitness Month and along with spring cleaning our finances we also want to recognize the importance of this month as a moment to kickstart (or continue) our personal wellness journeys. 

We recently sat down with fitness coach and corporate queen, Ariel Tyson, to talk about her health journey and what keeps her motivated to coach people towards their optimal health.  

Tell us about yourself. What’s your name and what’s your fitness expertise? 

Hey there- I’m Ariel! I live in Arlington, Virginia with my husband and two-year old chocolate lab, Bruno. I  wake up pretty early to coach the 5 am and 6:15 am classes at OrangeTheory before starting my work day at Capital One.

How did you get started in the fitness industry?

I’ve had a love for movement since I was younger because it is so energizing and life- giving for me. I grew up dancing and running track and when I got to college worked at the gym on campus and found myself there even when I wasn’t working. Post graduation, I started mixing up my workouts- adding in lifting and group fitness classes.

Whenever I was in a group fitness class I found myself working ten times harder because I had someone pushing me past  [what I thought were] my limits and helping me get stronger. I fell in love with OrangeTheory because no two classes are the same and it brings out my inner competitive athlete. After taking several hundred classes I finally decided to go through the training and become a coach.

What is your biggest motivation for staying healthy? 

I feel better when I eat healthy. But I don’t believe in restrictive eating- it’s truly about balance. I love desserts so I don’t deprive myself. If I want Jenni’s ice cream and oreos, I’ll have it and get back on track the next day or next week. We only have one body that allows us to do so many little and big things every day and I try to respect and fuel it with that in mind.

What do you think are the biggest barriers for Black women when it comes to their health?

I think there are a number of factors at play when it comes to Black women working out. Lack of time is one of the top reasons people don’t workout and I think that applies to Black women as well. But if you can make time to scroll on Instagram for 20 minutes- you can use that time to take a walk, ab work, or a quick yoga session. Whether we like to admit it or not- hair is a factor. As someone who sweats through their head I struggled with maintaining my relaxed hair as my workout intensity increased. There was a period of time where I tried to decrease and even stop working out to maintain my hair but I didn’t feel good or healthy. With time I was able to find hairstyles that allowed me to still do the workouts that I loved. 

What advice would you give a woman who is struggling to get started? 

Find your ‘why’ and remember it on the days you don’t want to go to the gym or you aren’t seeing as much progress as you would like. Change happens with the desire to start and consistency of taking little steps everyday because those add up in the long term. You don’t need to jump into a restrictive diet and workout seven days a week – instead commit to 15 minutes a day of moving and incorporating more greens into your meals. And remember to be kind to yourself- no journey is linear.

As a coach, you’re always helping others achieve their fitness goals. Tell us, what are your current fitness goals?

Funny you should ask.. I’m currently in the process of planning my post-pandemic wedding. We had a microwedding last year with our immediate family and will have a larger celebration in July. I saved my original wedding dress for the celebration this year so I’m really working toward feeling strong and looking great in that dress.

You can check Ariel out at OrangeTheory or on Instagram @arielsimonee.

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