At the top of 2019, I shared my desires to commit to self care which included being more mindful about rest, diet, but maybe most importantly, I committed myself to exercising regularly. Initially, this goal was all about mind over matter because while being physically active has always been a desire, I was never able to find a routine or a class that worked for me, so I had to really motivate myself to get to the gym and workout until I began taking classes at Rise Nation.
Rise Nation consists of 30 minute long HIIT (high-intensity interval training) classes that are fun, set to amazing playlists, and most importantly, have helped me tone up while doing cardio which is a win-win situation if you ask me. Now, while all of this is amazing, one thing that struck me during my first month of class was that I was usually one of the only Black people in class, if I wasn’t the only one. And then I ended up in a class with professional dancer and fitness instructor Britney Hall.
Now, of course you’re wondering why landing in class with Britney was significant, and the answer is simple — she is a Black woman just like me and I felt seen. This helped motivate me more in class because of her positive vibes, but more importantly, I began to move through classes a little easier because I felt like I had a friend in the room.
Britney oozes positivity in and out of the classroom and makes sure that everyone knows that the most important part of a workout is showing up despite the kind of day we may have all had. Her mindset, skill, and positivity as she impacts the fitness community are just a few reasons why she is part of the latest installment of Black Love’s Wellness Wednesdays series.
Britney, tell us a little bit about your background and fitness journey?
I’ve been a dancer all my life. So, with that I’ve been constantly active since the age of 6. My Nana actually put me into dance because I was just an extremely shy girl growing up and my parents and grandparents were worried that I would never make friends because of being such an introvert, so they decided to put me into dance, and I haven’t stopped since. I grew up dancing competitively and am trained in jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip hop, pointe, tap, and more.
Fitness actually started to come into play when I was in college. I was still an introvert to the core, so I loved hanging out alone. I started going to the gym on campus everyday, sometimes even twice a day.I often think about how weird that was. I used to think…”Britney instead of hanging out with people, you would rather be on an elliptical watching Friends with no sound…well live your life.” ha. I’ve accepted that everyone’s experiences are different, and I’m so grateful for mine because I’m now able to use my body to create art and inspire others everyday and make a coin while doing so!
Growing up a dancer, what did it teach you about discipline and health overall?
Growing up a dancer taught me so much discipline. Every class I took was taken seriously and strove to be the best student I could be. All I’ve known from the beginning was to train myself to have good work ethic and respect the people leading me. Whatever I am asked to do, I go all in. Part of my fun has always been perfecting my craft. By no means was I completely isolated from the world but for the most part, I was a really focused kid. I was always doing private lessons or YouTubing, researching iconic dancers, studying music videos and whatever else could teach me more about dance.
My family not allowing me to give up has added to my discipline constantly reminding me that I was blessed to do what I loved. There was a lot of time and money invested in my training, but they would always be willing to make those sacrifices for me to get what I needed for my art. As you can imagine, that pushed me even more, and giving up has never been an option. When I feel like I’m being eaten alive by this industry, I think about my family’s many sacrifices, and instantly I tap back in and remember who God created me to be and I get back on the mission.
Would you consider dancing your happy place?
As far as my happy place, being an athlete is my happy place. When I am out of words, it is my only form of expression most times. It has been a constant in my life and one of the only things that has never left me. It definitely has not always been bubblegum and cotton candy, and it’s hard work having to constantly pick myself up after rejection and grueling days of training. Sometimes it’s hard on the body, but nevertheless, I was born to do it — it’s in my veins.
Now, I met you at Rise Nation where you’re one of the instructors and quickly became my favorite teacher with my favorite class to attend — can you tell us about your approach as an instructor and what drives you through class as you’re motivating an entire room of people trying to become a better version of themselves?
First of all, I just want to express how grateful I am to be teaching at Rise Nation almost every day. You know, when I am teaching it’s sort of like a spiritual thing for me. Every day I go in thinking, “Even if I touch just one person, I’ve fulfilled my purpose today in class,” and even if just one person is inspired to be a better version of themselves after experiencing my class, I am happy knowing I was there for them for that exact reason. That’s what drives me, even sometimes when I am not feeling my best, I know I have a mission. My biggest goal is for people to leave my classes feeling like they can accomplish anything and everything. I push people, the way I like to be pushed when I’m taking a fitness class. When I take classes I often leave class realizing I did a lot more than I thought I could do, and I want people to have that sort of experience when they are taking from me.
During an average week, what does your workout routine look like daily? And, maybe more importantly, if you fall off, how do you hop back into the groove of things?
An average week of working out includes dance classes, hot yoga/hot yoga sculpt classes, teaching, taking from other instructors at Rise Nation, and enjoying other workouts around LA including: TRX, HIIT training, pilates or simply going to the gym for a solo workout. One of my favorite things to do is explore all of the different class options there are in L.A. — something as “normal” as that makes me super grateful for being able to live here. I definitely enjoy tapping into everything fitness wise because it’s important to keep changing it up and to not allow my body to plateau.
Some weeks are extremely busy for me because of my dance schedule, and when I’ve felt like I’ve fallen off that week, I simply just breathe and start back where I am. I used to beat myself up about missing workouts, but if I am busy doing other things that are also aligned with my purpose, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s okay and I pick up right where I left off.
What do you do to tone, shape, and sculpt, and what do you do for fun?
Nothing has gotten me more toned than hot yoga and Yoga Sculpt. Every time I go even just a week without it, I can tell. It’s crazy how my body reacts to it. I’m fully obsessed! I’m definitely a “go hard” type of person when it comes to working out. So I enjoy the heat blasting, the weights, and working on my posture while holding yoga poses. I enjoy the challenge. I’m very competitive with myself; I love getting better each class I attend. I normally set my goals and intentions at the top of the class, whether it be to take less breaks, not drop my weights, do every single chaturanga, or get lower in my poses. Accomplishing a goal in just an hour is rewarding for me.
Who are some of your inspirations when it comes to fitness and wellness?
If you are a woman who is leading in this business, who has a genuine soul, while staying true to yourself, you’re just simply a BOSS and I will most likely find inspiration from you — Tina Jackson is one of those women. She is a friend of mine who I originally know through dance back in the DMV area, where I grew up and now she’s a badass dancer and instructor at Soul Cycle here in L.A. She’s unapologetically herself, a lover of God, a full supporter of the people around her, proud of her Blackness and femininity, and is also very kind and gentle and is still thriving without all the other like gimmicky things people feel like they need to do in L.A to succeed.
What does self care mean to you? Also, when did you realize that it needs to be a priority in your life and that it is definitely a priority in the lives of your students?
Self care means to be in tune with myself fully. When I am distracted by outside things, that’s when I have a hard time finding that inner peace because the outside world gets too noisy sometimes. When I have some high-intensity moments during the week while working, self care can be as simple a writing lists of things I want to accomplish for the week. Sometimes it’s playing The Sims or one of my many video games on my phone, but sometimes it is yoga, or spending countless hours on YouTube watching interviews of the Obamas. It’s really whatever I need that week to revive myself and to keep the happiness flowing. It’s definitely a priority in my life and the lives of my students, because in addition to all of this grinding we do out here, there have to be moments of stillness and we need to make it a priority to find balance and remember that life is to be enjoyed.
Aside from being physically fit, how do you center mentally?
Being centered mentally is something that I have to constantly work on, so I’ve made it a priority to work on that this year. It feels as though I’m extremely busy right now, so I know being centered is more important than ever. I’ve always turned to prayer and talking with God. Talking with my parents has also been a major way of centering my thoughts. My mom always finds a way to put things into perspective, reminding me that everything I am going through will pass and there is always someone going through worse. My dad will tell me to get back on my grind real quick and refocus me; he’s kind of tough in that way, he’ll always tell me what I need to do better and refuses to let me pout about it. My grandparents constantly remind me to put God first. They are HOME. They are my comfort. They all would sacrifice any and everything for my siblings and I to thrive. My family helps me get centered. Conversations with them remind me of who I am.
What do you think the fitness world can do to become more inclusive of Black and brown people, especially women?
You know, I feel like Instagram has been a great platform for anyone in the fitness business, and Black women in fitness have become more visible on social media platforms, but I hope people know we shouldn’t just be limited to social media. Even in Los Angeles with the amount of fitness studios there are to train at, you still find that there is a lack of diversity and representation when it comes to instructors in most of these fitness studios. Unfortunately, people think that diversity means to have one Black person on your teaching staff — that’s just not enough. It’s a strange and heavy thing for me to see. We need to be represented more, it’s not that hard.
Lastly, the fitness world can be more inclusive of Black women on a macro level too and make sure to include us in conferences, conventions, workshops, and big corporate fitness events. I plan to help change that though.
To date, what has been your biggest accomplishment in fitness and dance?
My first big job here in L.A. was dancing on the TV show called Victorious on Nickelodeon, and I was one of the two dancers booked for the show. At the time I didn’t realize how major that was. Being on a television show doesn’t always end up being people’s first professional job after moving to Los Angeles, so that was wild. After that I had the opportunity to dance in more television shows/Netflix shows including What Not to Wear, Bunheads, One Day at a Time, and with artists in tours, music videos, award shows, concerts.
I also had the opportunity to tour with Helene Fischer throughout Europe which has been a huge blessing. The travel, the experience, dancing in front of thousands in huge venues or Olympic stadiums…but most importantly she and her team really treat us with respect and take our craft seriously. I’ve also been fortunate enough to work under choreographer Galen Hooks who has been one of my biggest influences on my journey here in L.A. She booked me for my biggest job to date, so seeing my hard work finally kind of coming to fruition was awesome for me.
On the fitness side, I had the opportunity to do a fitness/yoga campaign for GT’s Kombucha, and since I love Kombucha it was really cool! I’m truly grateful to have done amazing work on my journey — it’s humbling.
How do you hope to impact the fitness world in the next year?
I love this question because I have so many goals. I plan to impact the fitness world in major ways starting with becoming certified to be a personal trainer or limiting myself to the Los Angeles area. I want to create my own training program, travel, and teach all across the world to share my knowledge and experience globally to touch others. I also want to partner with activewear lines, equipment brands, fitness studios and more, specifically Black-owned brands.
Eventually, I’d love to have my own activewear line and maybe open up a boutique gym — I really want to do it all.