‘I Want Women to Get Up and Move’
Personal trainer & Community Outreach Coordinator, Athleta
3229 M St NW
Working out may literally be in Tiffany Forte's blood.
‘I’m O+ and it’s not proven, but I read that people with the ‘caveman’ blood type thrive off of movement and cardio. That’s all the caveman did, constantly moving in flight or fight. I’m a high-intensity, interval girl. I’m the girl that wants to sweat and lift weights, and run and train. I’m not afraid of muscle.’
An athlete since middle school, Tiffany grew up playing volleyball and running track in Little Rock, Arkansas. She stayed active in college, but it was a beauty pageant, of all things, that sparked a deeper interest in health and fitness.
‘I was Miss Henderson State University in 2010, and from there I had to compete in other pageants. There’s a swimsuit division, and you want to look your best. I wasn’t always a health enthusiast. In college I was doing all the things young 20-year-olds do, probably not taking the best care of myself. I got into pageantry and was like OK, I need to get it together; get in better shape and become healthier.’
As Tiffany focused on her individual fitness, her friends requested training sessions. Tiffany had no experience, but invited them to join in her workouts. When they asked what she’d charge, a light bulb went off.
‘I was like wait, I can make money doing this?’
In 2012, Tiffany earned her personal training certification, and slowly built a fitness program in Arkansas. Three years ago, a promotion brought her and her husband to DC.
Once here, Tiffany rebuilt her personal training business, began teaching at Orange Theory Fitness, and accepted a new job as the community outreach coordinator for Athleta in Georgetown—an ideal hybrid of her love of fitness, and degree in marketing and communications.
Tiffany says DC has proven to be a ‘unicorn city’ where instructors and health and wellness brands all support, co-market, and partner with one another. She’s found that to be true at Athleta, where she’s given the leeway to teach at Orange Theory Fitness and run her own personal training business, Fit and Female, when she isn’t in-store.
‘A lot of companies make you choose, but Athleta has given me the green light to do both. They allow me to be transparent with my brand. In turn, it helps my role as community outreach coordinator to have such a passion and love for fitness, and to already be connected to other instructors and fitness companies. It’s easier for me to make these connections for Athleta because I’m going to the places where fitness people and professionals are.’
Through those connections, Tiffany has witnessed an evolution in the industry. Customers are becoming more sensitive about what they put on their bodies, and its impact on the environment—not just how it looks and feels. They’re also demanding more diversity at every level, from a brand’s associates, to their marketing and clothing.
Athleta, in particular, is listening.
‘They’re hiring more diverse associates and models, and I can get with it, because they’ve done it right. When you appeal to a certain demographic, sometimes you eliminate another group of people without doing so intentionally. They’ve realized that, and that’s one of the things I look for. As a black woman, if I look around and I don’t see people who look like me in an organization, I’m probably not gonna stay too long there. Our customers are becoming more sensitive to that. With me being a black community coordinator, I’ve done a lot of things that are reaching out to those diverse demographics. We’re incorporating all types of women.’
That diversity extends into workout preferences, as well. When Tiffany moved to DC, Athleta largely appealed to yogis. Over time, the brand has evolved to more accurately reflect their broad range of customers.
‘I like yoga, but I really like to feel the burn and do high-intensity, and a lot of women are discovering the same. I never would have thought I was a runner, but now I’m leading a running club every Monday, and I’m doing Spartans and 5Ks. You never know what the body can do. Once you make that leap, you’ll be surprised.’
Tiffany says exercise has become part of her daily lifestyle, with a clear correlation to her mental health. When she pulled her hamstring over the summer, something felt off.
‘Now that it’s become part of my life, I can tell when it’s missing. It’s also a release for me. Often when I’m running on the treadmill, I’m trying to solve a problem. Lo and behold, when the run is over, I’ve thought of a solution. It’s a need for me, not a want. I need to move.’
Now, Tiffany is dedicating her life to making other women feel the same.
‘I want them to get up and to move. Particularly with my community, African-American women. We are that percentage of people who have a high risk of all these diseases, and heart disease is a main one. With simple lifestyle changes, you can make those things go away. That’s the reason I do what I do. I just want people to be healthy, to know the facts, and know how to make these lifestyle changes that will stick. You don’t have to go hard like I do every single week. Just make little, small changes.’