Bringing together health, fitness, mental wellbeing and culture, Blackfit Fitness is improving the lives of mob through a holistic approach.
Established in 2015, Blackfit Fitness is dedicated to closing the health gap through health education and promotion. The organisation delivers a range of holistic and culturally informed programs that centre on improving not only physical, but mental, spiritual and emotional health.
Born from a Facebook page and now residing in Dubbo, NSW, Blackfit Fitness was established by Gomeroi man, Joshua Toole.
“It all started online as a Facebook Page between me and a friend when we were over in Spain playing rugby,” Toole said.
“We were going to the gym all the time, and we had mob back home asking us to put up workouts or things along the lines of that healthy lifestyle.
“To be honest, when I looked back then on [the] social media world, there were all these health and fitness pages and food recipe pages … but there [were] none really from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective. We thought it would be cool for us to have a page for our mob that could appeal to them.
“Once we got that up and running, with my educational background and the culture that was passed down and I learnt myself; we’ve merged it into a very educational space, touching on a lot of different aspects. It snowballed into what it is today.”
Today, Blackfit Fitness has many branches, ranging from recipes, merch and apparel to various programs and in-school workshops.
“We try to link [the programs] back to physical activity, the traditional Aboriginal games, bush tucker and healthy eating,” said Toole.
“We modify games to relate that back to Aboriginal culture … we have hunting games and things like that but we try and make it as relatable as we can to the health and fitness aspects of our culture.
“We have touched on mental wellness … just based off my experiences, and the experiences of the presenters. We’ve done yoga and meditation.
“If there’s anything we can’t touch on or that we don’t feel confident in [talking about] … we normally bring [in] someone who is comfortable to do so. For example … Indigenous women and the success and struggles they experience, we get people in.”
Originally from western NSW, Toole was living up in Brisbane before taking the leap to commit to Blackfit Fitness full-time. Looking back on the journey, Toole said his biggest lesson has been around cultural protocol.
“Before speaking on, or teaching on, anything to do with culture you need to understand what is allowed and what isn’t. What affects other people not from your tribe or your Country, may affect other people around Australia.”
With an Instagram community of over 16,000, Toole said it’s important to be aware of culture protocol in the social media world.
“It is hard, the majority of our culture is very, or traditionally has been … preserved within clans, Countries and certain areas. With everything that has happened, a lot of that has gone away,” he said.
“There are a lot of things in our culture that should never be touched on, or never be shown to the public eye, such as ceremony and things like that. But now with the aspect of the modern-day world, the contemporary culture that is going around at the moment … disregards a lot of that.
“You have to be so careful about how you deliver your programs but also how you connect with people or portray that aspect of culture within your business in the social world.”
Based in Dubbo for now, Toole has plans in the future to set up a Blackfit Fitness hub in the regional centre.
“At the moment we are developing programs so that they are set in stone. One of our goals is to set up a cultural wellness centre here in Dubbo, NSW where we can run our programs, and … have our merch, a gym set up space, have a seminar room where we can host cultural awareness workshops for companies or we can host healthy lifestyle workshops for mob that want to come along,” said Toole.
“It will be good if we can get that up out here, but at the moment we’re in the process of getting everything cemented for that to happen down the road!”
To follow the Blackfit Fitness journey, head to their Instagram at @blackfitfitness.
By Rachael Knowles
— to nit.com.au