Meet Mindbody: Wellness Through Equality with Mindbody Pride
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated as of May 23, 2022.
When I asked Robert Arambel if he could sum up what Mindbody Pride means in one sentence, he delivered. “Because like Zeus, I willed it to be so,” Arambel quipped.
Robert, senior technical programmer and Mindbody Pride lead, continued, “[Mindbody] Pride exists to ensure that LGBTQIA+ people have visibility and voice within the company, and to understand that as LGBTQIA+ people and allies we provide valuable insight and diversity.”
Part of our mission to connect the world to wellness means creating an inclusive, uplifting, and welcoming workspace where all our team members feel valued and inspired to bring their best every day. To help make sure this mission comes to fruition, we look to our internal teams for help carving the path to provide wellness to all that seek it, actively or not. Enter our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).
In the original installment of this Meet Mindbody feature, I sat down with Robert, Evelyn Zucker, and Louise Gainor, members of our Mindbody Pride group and all-around amazing Mindbodians. Since the original publication, and as the Mindbody community continues to evolve and grow to welcome our ClassPass teammates, we invited Kolten Schnell and Daxfurth Houston to join our conversation to give their unique POV.
Will Price: What does Pride mean to you?
Robert A.: Pride is about celebrating the visibility and accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ people. It’s also about celebrating the diversity among LBGTQIA+ people.
Evelyn Z.: PRIDE historically was chosen in opposition of shame. It was considered shameful to have a relationship that did not conform to the heteronormative culture at the time and worked as a self-affirming notion to the culture of the LBGTQIA+ community.
Plus, it was a cheeky or campy way to oppose those who wished to see us commit a "sin" in the eyes of a church that thought we were bad people for being true to ourselves and being loving honest people.
Louise G.: [Pride means] being able to walk in public with your head held high and not have to worry about being accosted because of who you are.
Kolten S.: Pride, to me, is showing up as my authentic self every day, regardless of the outside forces and voices telling me different. Loving the qualities and uniqueness I bring to the world while honoring my journey forward. Pride to me is an internal feeling projected outward. When we feel good inside then we can bring good into the world, authentically.
Daxfurth H.: For me, Pride means owning your truth. I'm proud of who I am, and by sharing that with the world, I hope to inspire many to be proud of who you are, despite whatever messages one might receive that counter that.
WP: Why did you join the Mindbody Pride group?
RA: I started the Mindbody Pride group because of the work done by a former employee resource group, Women in Tech. There was a need to give visibility to both LGBTQIA+ people and allies within the company.
EZ: People thought I needed to be less introverted and needed to socialize more if I'm honest. It helps if you already have one thing in common.
LG: I have a son and daughter who are gay, so I want to know what issues they may face. I won't support political candidates or laws that jeopardize not only their livelihood but their very safety.
KS: I believe I have an alternate perspective to bring to the group. Leading with the vision I see for the queer community in mind, which is, one day I hope there's a world where we can all just be, without attaching "who we love" to our identity. No more pressure to come out or explain who you are to the world. The actions you take and the things you do should showcase this wonderfully. Leading by example of this I believe can empower youth to be their authentic selves and reduce early suicide and self-harm associated with the pressures and societal norms that were set before our time. When we can all have pride in who we are, I believe the actual problems that this world faces (drought, hunger, cancer, etc.) can be taken on more strategically and collaboratively by including all humans just as they are—humans.
DH: I think it is so important for our community to connect in the workplace. Although we've come a long way in terms of equal rights for gays and lesbians, we MUST show up for our queer, trans, and non-binary family members. Their voices also need to be heard.
WP: Why is the MBPride group important at Mindbody?
RA: Mindbody Pride is important because it helps people in the community and allies feel connected. It gives voice to the continued accomplishment and struggles faced by LBGTQIA+ people.
EZ: We notice where there are gaps in our industry—both the software and the wellness business [in general]—where improvements can be made for accessibility for queer people and other marginalized groups. We tend to intersect among different subsections of culture and bring that to our attention.
LG: We want to accept everyone here. They need to feel that they are valued and safe everywhere, including while they are at work.
KS: It brings a safe place for discussion, empowerment, and involvement.
DH: I think it brings a community and safe place for employees to connect, share, and take action.
WP: Why is celebrating Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community important for the wellness industry at large?
RA: LGBTQIA+ people need to see that there is representation and commitment to ensure that the wellness industry is a safe space for them, and that businesses support their particular needs.
EZ: It makes [the LGBTQIA+] community visible to the wellness industry and creates a perpetual motion machine, allowing the wellness industry to recognize us as valuable members of their community to cater to and care about.
LG: Many LGBTQIA+ individuals suffer from low self-esteem because of societal attacks. Exercise, fitness, and self-care can help rebuild that.
KS: Without humans, we have no health or wellness industry. The human comes first. Regardless of who you love or how you identify, we all take part in our own well-being and that of those around us.
WP: What does the Mindbody Pride group mean to you?
RA: Mindbody Pride means that there is visibility for the community and the diversity inherent in it. It is a space that celebrates diversity and allows Mindbody to see what this community provides.
EZ: It means there is a space to celebrate achievements, create community, and mourn losses outside of work. It is a place to discuss work shortfalls and triumphs and how we can make our industry better.
LG: It means that I have some insight into that world, so I can be educated and help wherever I can.
KS: It means there's an opportunity to elevate and support. To be involved in something larger than just the human.
DH: It means joy. I get so much joy connecting with people like me. We laugh a lot!
WP: Does the wellness industry promote inclusivity?
RA: I think the wellness industry thinks that they already do this, but I don't see a lot of promotion for it. The industry needs to make this visible. There is still discrimination out there, and when people don't see themselves represented, they don't feel comfortable.
EZ: No. A lot of the wellness industry tends to create binaries based on sex, gender, and race and tends to penalize people who are different than them wherever they can. For example, schools in the U.S. don't allow transgendered kids to participate in sports, leading to higher rates of childhood anxiety, stress, and depression. I am sure we will see more drastic repercussions in the aftermath later, too.
We see microaggressions in places like salons with non-binary and trans teens and adults receiving haircuts and massages. Gyms are now opening up as safe spaces for the LGBTQIA+ community, but you never know who you could encounter.
LG: I believe that it does.
KS: I believe we're getting there. Truly, I see more inclusive representation today than ever before and I always think "had I had this as a kid, my initial journey might have been so much more positive..."
Delta Airlines has great representation in their jet bridges when walking to board a plane and in their safety demonstrations on the plane. Fashion and beauty now encompass and embrace all body types, skin tones and types, and human beings. We embrace and admire our differences to create a new societal norm.
DH: I think it has certainly gotten better. But I think there is still more room to improve the experience for our queer, trans, and non-binary family members. Simple things like having queer flag stickers near the front door or included in marketing show that your location is a safe space for those who identify. Gender-neutral restrooms, if possible, go a long way. Celebrating Pride month.
WP: What does wellness mean to you?
RA: Wellness starts with equality and visibility, both of which we need more of for the LGBTQIA+ community.
EZ: Feeling safe—body and mind—where you are at.
LG: Wellness means feeling good about yourself, and knowing that you are enough.
KS: Wellness to me all comes back to the internal self—feeling good on the inside and projecting that good into the world.
DH: Wellness is self-care, which has a compounding effect. It touches your health, relationships, family, career, finances, and spirituality. When you improve your wellness, you can improve all that is important to you.
To learn more about Mindbody Pride, and how diversity, equity, inclusivity, and belonging come to life at Mindbody, please visit our DEIB Resource Center.
Join our growing wellness community on Instagram.