Finding the motivation to head outside — even for just a simple walk — has been weighing on me for the past month. The way out of that funk was reaching out to womxn I admire. One thing to know about the following creatives is that they make time to take care of themselves with some outdoor replenishment. In turn, it only propels their creative juices to make the content we know and love. This conversation was much larger than working out though. We discussed how nature is a tool for healing, how the outdoors became a notably “White space” in the first place, the importance of BIPOC reclaiming the outdoors, and more. These creatives will not only motivate you to head outside, but to understand the beauty and struggles that come with taking up space in the outdoors.
What is your go-to outdoor physical activity?
“My favorite outdoor activity is photography. It’s not just an art — it’s also a sport. I’m either chasing the sun or shooting branded content while running after a model. You need a fitness level to keep up with the heavy gear and with nature.”
How do you change up your routine when it comes to location and physical activity of choice?
“I have to feel energetically connected to a place beforehand, so I do a lot of research. It’s not all about getting the shot to post on Instagram. It’s also about what I am personally / spiritually going to get out of the experience. I’m always looking for more and everyone should do the same.”
What mood shifts do you notice when you intentionally move your body?
“It’s similar to a runner’s high where my mind goes into a trance. I find myself being at peace and discovering more about myself during those moments when I’m running around shooting.”
What motivates you to explore the outdoors?
“As an ex-track runner, I’m able to use those tactics for motivation to keep on going. That stamina and drive is still in me, but now it’s used to fuel my passion and gift for photography.”
As a Black woman, what do you want people to understand about BIPOC and their relationship with the outdoors?
“BIPOC were trained to think that we had to step back from the outdoors and it shouldn’t be the case. I want people to realize that nature provides a lot of healing. Just noticing things about nature can be very therapeutic — how the trees are swaying, how the sky looks, how you feel when you’re moving your body through the breeze. Once you start to realize that, you will want to explore more and witness sunsets, sunrises, and shooting stars.”
Have you ever faced racist experiences that deterred you from exploring the outdoors?
“I was hiking with Black Girls Trekkin’ and two white guys passed by us and said, “Oh what are you guys doing out here?” Moments like that would be daunting if I wasn’t with 14 other Black women. Not because they could harm me, but because of the traumatizing conversation that could arise. It could push me to not want to go back on a trail. Also, there was a moment when a park ranger thought that my camera lens was a gun. Would he have questioned that if I was white? People need to realize that there will be moments like that and you need to prepare yourself for it. Whether it’s holding onto that trauma in the moment or preparing a response during those moments.”
What advice do you have for others who are experiencing this?
“Speak up and use your voice. It takes time, but a lot of these experiences are great when you have a support team with you. Whether it’s friends, family or people online like, Outdoor Afro, The Outdoor Journal Tour, and Outdoor Defense. There are many groups that provide support to melt trauma away.”
Any ending thoughts you have for our readers?
“Start supporting Black outdoor art! There aren’t many of us so being able to amplify our voices definitely helps us.”
Evelynn, Multi-Disciplinary Creative, Model, Activist, and Founder of Hike Clerb:
I love that you’ve intersected being physically active with being politically active. What motivates you to constantly be doing the work while also taking care of yourself?
“I’ve always had this symbiotic relationship with investing myself into not only the things that fill me, but also the work that is much greater than myself and my pleasures. It’s important for me to take care of myself while investing in political movements because it requires a lot out of me.”
Can you explain why creating an intersectional womxn’s Hike Clerb is so important for the BIPOC community?
“One of the biggest things for me was the lack of representation in the outdoors community and how people look at it through a white privileged view. There are times when I am the only person of color or the darkest skinned person on a trail. If I’m the darkest skinned person out there, then we’re missing out on a large representation of people. With Hike Clerb, one thing that’s really important to us is making sure that BIPOC feel seen, heard, and represented.”
How would you encourage others to create / do something similar in their hometowns?
“Hike Clerb is one group that’s part of a larger movement that’s helping to dismantle the structures of white supremacy in the outdoor space. So chances are there might already be a group in your area that you can be a part of. There’s Unlikely Hikers, Latino Outdoors, and so many others. But if you are in a place where you don’t have access to these groups, I recommend going out with friends doing group hikes. It starts with taking initiative, defining what the issues are, and using your unique traits to solve that.”
What is your goal through the “Racist History in the Outdoors” series for white people and BIPOC?
“The outdoors is seen as a fantasy land that is an untouchable and unpolitical place, which is absolutely false. This is the narrative that has been commonly pushed and accepted. The series is about getting to the root, taking a radical approach into the outdoors, and showing that the way we believe it to be is unnatural. When our ancestors are taught not to go into these spaces in fear of violence, they won’t pass that down to their kids and so on. It’s because of these systems that keep BIPOC out of these spaces. What I love is that we are now challenging those preconceived notions and not accepting these false beliefs to be true anymore. My goal with the series is to show people that the only reason things are the way they are now is because of the structures that have been put in place. I hope it will allow the BIPOC community to feel that they have as much stake in this land as anyone else.”
Any parting thoughts you have for our readers?
“Hike Clerb is doing all this work to break down the barriers of entry to get the BIPOC community out and into nature. The reason that it’s so important is because of its innate healing powers. That fuels me the most — to inspire POC to go out there and explore it for themselves.”
Sophia, Social media strategist and yoga teacher in training:
What made you want to begin training to be a yoga instructor?
“I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for about 5 years, but I’ve always been active with more high-intensity workouts and grew up playing sports. What sets yoga apart for me is that it works on my mental space. It’s kind of like exercise for your brain so I wanted to be able to share that practice with others as a teacher.”
What physical activity do you turn to on one of your bad days?
“I want to start off by saying that if you are having a bad day, you don’t have to force yourself to do anything. Personally though, I treat my mood with an opposite action. So if I’m feeling sluggish, I’ll try to do something high-intensity. If I’m feeling anxious, I’ll do something more monotonous like walking, running, or hiking to slow the brain down.”
Do you feel guilty on days you might not do anything?
“Something I’m working on is to not feel guilty about not being active or not getting in X amount of workout time. I remind myself that if I don’t do anything, that decision won’t make me a better or worse person.”
Is there a phrase you turn to when you need extra motivation?
“’You don’t have to have it all together to feel good about you.’ You don’t need to have a matching workout set to get outside and you don’t need to go for some crazy 10 mile hike. You can just do what you can and feel good about that.”
As a White woman who is in the outdoor space, have you thought of how you can make your work/hobbies more inclusive?
“People hear things like, ‘Oh the outside is for everybody, it’s free to get outside.’ No it’s not. I’m trying to be more conscious of that. Before, I never really thought about the privilege that it was to feel safe while getting out on a trail and people aren’t going to look at me one way or another. I think a good start while I research and learn about being outdoors as a white woman is thinking about doors that have already been opened for me — or at least not shut because of my race — and making a conscious effort to prop it open for BIPOC. Sometimes this might look like saying hello to every person I pass during my hike or making sure I work with a brand that highlights BIPOC voices.”
Any advice for people who need that extra push to get moving outdoors?
“My number one thing is asking yourself if you’ve had enough water. When you aren’t hydrated it will most likely make you not want to leave your AC. Then I would say, try to get outside whether it’s by taking a walk or sitting outside if you have any outdoor space.”
Any parting thoughts you have for our readers?
“The outdoors should not be exclusive. So if you have the privilege like me in already having access to it, figuring out ways to share it with others is important.”
Martha, Director of Global Brand Creative and Communications of Hoka One One
What is your personal relationship with the outdoors?
“I grew up in a low to middle income family where my parents had to be conscious of the experiences they provided us. Airplane travel was a luxury and not something we could easily access so family vacations were road trips to areas like Big Bear, CA. My relationship to the outdoors has even evolved during the pandemic because of anxiety. But I am riding the wave and finding joy with being outside in new ways. For example, I have a newfound appreciation of sitting in my yard watching my succulent garden.”
How do you hope to make the outdoor space more inclusive to BIPOC in your job?
“As a womxn of color I recognize the privilege that I have in the type of work that I do. Whether that is in making decisions on what stories the brand will amplify, how I advocate for folx, or how I can empower (or challenge) people at all levels of the brand to create a more equitable future for BIPOC in the outdoor space. The intersectional work of making these spaces more inclusive to BIPOC is the responsibility of all.”
How does outdoor physical activity inspire your creative work?
“Being outside allows me to slow my thoughts down and be present to check in on myself. This can look like sitting in the sun while listening to music, journaling, or doing a really hard workout. Other times absolutely nothing is inspiring me to get a project done. When I feel this way I intentionally create space between my attention and the project. A little patience with yourself and some space can go a long way.”
Do you have any advice for those lacking the motivation (or the access) to get outside to be active?
“The act of simply going outside for a walk around a park is a valid outdoor experience. You don’t need to go on some big adventure or hike to be active outside. Everyone can connect with nature in different ways, from neighborhood walks to hikes or camping trips. Your experience, however you choose to connect with, is valid.”
Any parting thoughts you have for our readers?
“The most important relationship that you’re going to have in your life is the relationship that you have with yourself, so be kind and gentle.”
Feature Image via Stocksy