Keighty Gallagher, founder of Tight Club Athletics, sat down with us to share her thoughts on how COVID changed the fitness industry and her passion for both mental and physical health.
Tell us how Tight Club Athletics came to be. What inspired you?
I started Tight Club Athletics back in 2012 to help those who have never felt represented in fitness find their place. Having had my athletic spirit squashed during my time running track for a Div 1 NCAA program, movement felt like punishment. Not only did I need to rebuild my own relationship with movement, I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling this way, and so began my journey of finding the barriers that prevent people from accessing fitness.
How have you transitioned the inclusive nature from your space into the new online platform?
To be honest, I’m still trying to figure it out. But the nature of going digital is that movement can be more accessible than ever, so if you’re having one of those days where being around people isn’t going to work for you, you can still get a workout in. Memberships to TCTV is also a fraction of what it cost when we were movin’ n groovin’ together at the studio, but I also realize that having a credit card is a privilege, and still, $45 a month is still out of reach for lots of people. I’ve been noodling on a scholarship program and will launch it when I feel it’s in a good place.
But what hasn’t changed is how I teach movement. It still very much comes from a lens of inclusion, and I try my very best to create a brave space for people to move on their own terms.
How has the community embraced this new way of connecting with one another?
I cant tell you how many times our community shared with us that Tight Club helped them get through the first lock down. And to be honest, it went both ways. I feel confident saying that myself and my team mutually needed our community to process what the world was going through. Its what makes this community so special. When I launched TCTV, I needed a special place for members to connect, kind of like when we’d hang before and after class when we had the studio. It’s become a beautiful melting pot of playlists, recipes, contacts for plumbers, gardening tips, weather updates, hiking resources, etc. I honestly feel more connected in a strange way to the community now than ever. What makes my day is when I see conversation threads grow like weeds without me. That’s the best!
What needs to be done, or can be done, industry wide to change the conversation around taking care of our bodies?
That there’s no one right way to do ANYTHING! I’ve been bringing this up a lot in class, where I state that I’m the assistant coach and the head coach is YOU! Every move I offer is an educated suggestion. I think the industry has a lot of work to do, from the toxic messages around “ideal body size”, to the idea that food can be “bad” or “good” and that exercise is used as punishment for indulging in the food you like. I think the health care industry and the government should work together to promote the fitness industry for its physical and mental health benefits, and provide more funding for all kinds of fitness professionals to succeed.
What’s the most important component in building a trusting, supportive environment?
Seeing people where they’re at, having boundaries, being an active listener, being vulnerable, and being open to feedback.