Be the Change looks at real-life projects and inspiration to make the world better.

New year, new you. It’s the age-old New Year’s cliche: resolving to get fit, then falling flat with unrealistic weight loss plans and extreme fitness classes abandoned halfway through the first Groupon. But that mindset toward fitness is changing. As the conversation surrounding inclusive sizing, diverse representation, and self-love continues to evolve, the body-positive movement is shifting the outlook on fitness thanks to industry pioneers like Micki Krimmel, founder of inclusive-sizing athletic sportswear company Superfit Hero.

“Like most people, I had a really rocky relationship with my body and fitness,” Krimmel tells us by phone. “We’re told that with working out and fitness, the only purpose is to punish yourself and remake yourself into some unrealistic image.”

Roller derby was the catalyst of empowerment that began to bleed into aspects of her life. “If you track your athletic goals as opposed to your weight loss goals, all of sudden it feels really fun to go to the gym,” she says.”It just shifted my entire perspective on what fitness is for and who is allowed to participate.”

A longtime executive in the entertainment and tech industries, Krimmel found herself standing a little taller at meetings, no longer afraid to negotiate. Excited by her newfound inner strength and wanting to share her story, Krimmel realized there was an inclusivity gap within the fitness industry and, specifically, in performance wear for plus-sized athletes.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Krimmel launched Superfit Hero in 2015, which carries athletic wear in sizes from XS to 5XL. Every design is made in small quantities within a vetted factory in Los Angeles, where Krimmel ensures that workers are paid a fair wage.

“I don’t know how you can claim to be a feminist brand and not pay people,” she tells us.

Superfit Hero’s feminist mandate doesn’t end with production. As the company has taken off, Krimmel has tapped notable athletes like Olympic bronze medalist weightlifting champion Sarah Robles and renowned pole dancing trainer Roz “The Diva” Mays to serve as inspirational fitness brand ambassadors.

“We’ve been doing collections and collaborations with athletes that we feel aren’t getting enough recognition in mainstream sports culture,” Krimmel explains. “Sarah Robles is a great example of that. She’s an Olympic bronze medalist. She’s the world champion in her weight class. She’s amazing. And purely by virtue of being a plus-sized athlete, you don’t see her in Nike commercials. You don’t see her around the Olympics. So we wanted to change that. We are creating a league of super-fit heroes.”

Given its inclusive mission, the Superfit Hero Facebook page has become a hub for a growing body-positivity community. As she became more aware of the growing arsenal of trainers and coaches dedicated to inclusive, performance-based practices, Krimmel realized there was an opportunity to create a network to connect these experts with people who might benefit from their services. Which is why the brand is introducing its first Body Positive Fitness Finder. This online directory lists trainers and fitness resources around the world that “are committed to inclusivity and acceptance of all body types regardless of size, gender identity, or athletic ability.”

“At a certain point, we realized we have all of these amazing trainers, we’re building this amazing community of people, and on the other side, we have thousands of customers buying our products — wouldn’t it be great if we could connect them to each other? So it was a no brainer,” she says.

Trainers have to apply and meet criteria to determine that they accept clientele regardless of size, race, or gender identity, and motivate through compassion and positivity. Beyond that, users can seek out all kinds of services from CrossFit and yoga to hiking communities in their local area.

“Any activity you’re into, you can find someone near you that’s doing it in a body-positive way. The definition beyond that, we’re figuring it out,” she says. “It’s an emerging market and an ongoing conversation, but for us, right now, we’re looking for trainers where inclusivity and accessibility are very important and that focus on the benefit of health and happiness over aesthetic or weight loss goals.”

Want to start your own inclusive business? Check out our online classes on how to get a new biz off the ground. If volunteering’s more your speed, find out how you can become a body confidence coach for young girls through The Body Project, a community awareness initiative by the National Eating Disorders Association.

(Photo via SuperFit Hero)