BIPOC In Fitness: Daniela Goode Thomas
Name: Daniela Goode Thomas
Country of birth: Canada
Share details about your cultural background
I was born and raised in Canada, however, I identify as Jamaican via the heritage and of culture my parents, who immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. I absolutely love my Jamaican background, and I believe that it gives me a greater understanding of both the hardships and opportunities that result from moving to a new country to build a better life for the family. I appreciate my parents for bringing us up in a strong foundation of both faith and culture while allowing us to make the most of opportunities here in Canada that were not available to them when they were growing up.
How would you best describe your role in fitness?
For the past decade, I have had the absolute honour of teaching new fitness leaders through a variety of workshops, conferences, and certification courses. Having been a Master Trainer and Lead Instructor for multiple fitness and wellness companies, I was afforded an opportunity to teach in many places in the world that would have otherwise been beyond my reach due to the costs involved in travel, and the investments that had already been made to pursue my education.
I love helping others to get started with fitness, whether personally or professionally! In addition to my classes, programs, and clients, I am also a canfitpro PRO TRAINER, teaching all of the live courses currently offered (ie. PTS, FIS, HWL, FMA and CPR).
Being an educator in the fitness industry gives a wonderful opportunity to positively impact new fitness professionals, who will become a source of education, inspiration, and positivity to people within their own communities and spheres of influence.
How did you find your interest in fitness?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a love for physical activity and sports. Most of my immediate family members are athletic, with myself and my siblings having played on multiple school sports teams and community programs. I even remember my mom teaching me and my older sisters about her own youth-athlete days by signing us up for a mother-daughter netball league, where we not only learned how to play, but were able to see a deeper glimpse into our mother’s life experience by hearing the stories she shared about her days as a netball player ‘back home.’
After playing a variety of sports in school and becoming entirely fascinated with how the human body functions, I went on to study Kinesiology in University. That was also the time that my love for physical activity led to me getting certified as a canfitpro Fitness Instructor Specialist and Personal Training Specialist. What began as a fun part-time job has grown into a foundational pillar of my full-time career!
How does exercising make you feel (before/during/after)?
Exercise is a physical and emotional outlet for me; it helps me to feel alive and fulfilled. These may sound like really simple descriptors, but they represent a lot more for me. When I am exercising, I feel empowered to work through obstacles, to become stronger through any perceived failure, to persist in the face of challenge or opposition, and to enjoy periods of rest and recovery. A few years ago I experienced injuries from a motor vehicle accident that significantly affected my ability to move my body freely without restriction and pain. Having gone through a long recovery process, I now have an even greater appreciation for exercise as “me” time. It’s a time for me to celebrate and appreciate what I can do physically and mentally, rather than focusing on my limitations. It is a time for me to step up to a challenge, breathe through it, and become stronger while enjoying the process!
Do you feel that you are treated differently than some of your co-workers, fellow owner/operators? If yes, in what way?
While I have been blessed to work with amazing groups of people within the fitness industry, I have had many moments of feeling like I don’t quite belong. This is not to say that I was deliberately being treated unfairly or discriminated against, but simply by looking around me and not seeing many others who looked like me, I was presented with constant reminders that I was different.
I have experienced situations of being the team member who ‘ticks the box’ for representation of visible minorities or different cultural backgrounds, and I’ve also had situations in which my skin colour has been commented on in jest, or where it was mentioned that I might be “too dark” for certain marketing material.
With all of this being said, I do cherish the opportunity to be in a compassionate and people-focused industry where we can all learn from each other and have powerful conversations about inclusion, equity, and allyship, such as the ones that have come about in the past year. I look forward to continuing to help build awareness and unprejudiced comradery within our industry.
Are you actively doing something to promote fitness to your [BIPOC/Religious] community? If so, tell us about it
I offer faith-based classes and wellness coaching programs within the Christian community, allowing participants to make a stronger connection between their spiritual beliefs and their physical, mental, and emotional health. I’ve developed a dance-fitness program that uses Christian reggae, hip hop, contemporary, and classic gospel music to provide a dance-fitness option for those who feel uncomfortable with some of the music or movements that are used in mainstream fitness classes. I’ve also launched a wellness coaching program for Christian women that focuses on building healthy life habits through community, education, and faith-based mindfulness.