While exercise and wellness are critical parts of a healthy lifestyle, fitness classes that cost upwards of $30 a pop make activities like yoga, pilates, and kickboxing inaccessible for many people who live on a tight budget. For Black Americans, who make on average 13.5 percent less than white workers, and Hispanic women, who make 46 percent less than white men, these financial barriers are exacerbated by institutional inequalities.
So how can we make wellness accessible for all? Many studios across the country are adopting sliding scale models, encouraging members to “pay what you can.” In this way, those who can afford full price classes help subsidize sessions for those who can’t. This policy encourages a community-wide, holistic approach to fitness and health.
There are a variety of ways to implement these sliding scale payment methods. Black Girls Breathing, an organization dedicated to creating safe spaces for black women to practice breathwork and meditation, offers classes ranging from $0 to $25. They simply ask people to “pay what they can and take what they need.” Holisticism, a studio that offers wellness workshops, has a self-selecting sliding scale that ranges from $9 to $29 so people can select what they are comfortable contributing.
The sliding scale system also allows studio owners and teachers to support themselves and their businesses while making classes available to all members of the community. Many studios want to lower prices to make classes accessible for all, but they also have to meet their bottom line. Allowing wealthy members to pay more allows studios to navigate both these roadblocks.
The health and wellness community has a diversity problem. Most curated fitness classes are overwhelmingly white. This is a result of both financial barriers and exclusionary biases that make Black individuals feel unwelcome in these spaces. Access to health and wellness resources is critical for all people, regardless of income. Jasmine Marie, founder of Black Girls Breathing points out, “Especially in the Black community, our mental health is largely impacted not only by the regular stressors of life but also the micro and macroaggressions that we face on a daily basis.”
The sliding scale payment method is incredible simple, yet effective, the mechanism for achieving more inclusivity in wellness spaces. Looking at studios that have successfully implemented these procedures shows us that they work. So, if you regularly attend fitness classes in your area, share this idea with the studio owner to boost community wellness!