K Team: Creating A Body Positive Exercise Environment for Kalamazoo College Students
Tracey, Madeleine R.
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According to Kalamazoo College students, fitness facilities and resources can be intimidating and limiting spaces. Navigating a healthy relationship with exercise at Kalamazoo College may be difficult for students who: experience oppression linked to their body/self expression; live with mental illness, including disordered eating and/or disordered body image; cannot afford fitness class fees; and do not know how to exercise safely. Exercise is also frequently used as a tool to change marginalized bodies (bodies of color, aged bodies, poor bodies, fat bodies, women’s bodies, etc.) to fit physique ideals that are misogynist, ableist, racist, and ageist. My aim is to reframe exercise as a venue for empowerment and self-care instead of reaching for a body aesthetic. With the “stress culture” that makes Kalamazoo College so unique, creating an inclusive and accessible exercise community for students to explore mindful movement is important in order to improve students’ mental health. K Team, a student organization jettisoned in 2016 at Kalamazoo College, gives students free exercise sessions in an inclusive, body positive environment. K Team aims to provide students with the skills and mindset that can help them carry on exercise habits that are sustainable, safe, and fueled by self-care. This project is an integral piece to my personal healing journey, and inherently part of my feminist agenda to create more spaces that celebrate and empower marginalized bodies.