May 29—After more than seven years with the union, Executive Director Chrétienne Yalung continues to be dedicated to group fitness and expanding this arena with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It’s been a journey, an evolution, in a good way,” Yalung, 33, said. “After COVID, it’s definitely been a challenge, but Union has definitely created a really good building block for the community.”
In addition to his management role, Yalung teaches spin, TRX and Pilates classes.
“Growing up with this as teaching has evolved over the past two years…just seeing what group fitness looks like…it’s fun,” she said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from EWU, Yalung focused on furthering her education on a physical therapy track. But once she started her obligatory volunteer work in the field, she soon realized that was not the job she wanted to do.
“I honestly didn’t like it,” she said. “It just wasn’t the type of work I saw myself doing for a long time.”
As he searched for a new lead, Yalung ended up taking on multiple jobs at once.
“At that time, I was working four different jobs,” she said, listing various positions in the service industry and teaching fitness.
While working in a small studio in Moran Prairie, a friend approached her about a leadership position at Union. They said it would be part time, 15 hours a week. But that quickly evolved into a full-time job.
“I think at the time I didn’t know what it was going to evolve into – it was just a different path that I could try,” she said. But now, in addition to her love for teaching, work has also become an avenue for other pursuits.
Since the coronavirus pandemic and the conversation surrounding George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, Yalung has been able to devote more energy to efforts for diversity, equity and inclusion in the world of boutique fitness. As a first-generation Filipina American, this issue has always been close to her heart.
“One of my favorite things…trying to create a more inclusive wellness community in Spokane,” she said, emphasizing the importance of thinking beyond performative action and making a real effort to embody “what inclusiveness means”.
In partnership with Lululemon, Yalung and co-founder Taylor Jaderquist recently launched an outreach program that provides diversity and inclusion education for wellness professionals.
“We run workshops to essentially bring accessible education to fitness instructors…therapists, doctors, teachers, people from all walks of life learning to cultivate a holistic and diverse perspective,” she said, mentioning how attendees came from Seattle and Portland. for these free events.
“Our goal is to do everything for free and only enable education,” she said.
During COVID-19, it was difficult to find affordable education in this field because finding the right experts is expensive, she explained.
“And obviously it’s important that all of these leaders, speakers, writers get paid for the work that they do,” she said. Fortunately, Lululemon was willing to help. Yalung is currently in her third term as a Lululemon brand ambassador.
Yalung has since recruited his team from the Union to attend the workshop.
“We don’t know if our endgame is to become a nonprofit, but we have all the tools,” she said. At this point, their goal is to facilitate a quarterly workshop.
Passionate about wellness and fitness in all areas, Yalung looks forward to sharing this world with as many people as possible.
“It’s really great to be able to work with athletes, whether it’s long-term or short-term…so that they feel empowered in their bodies and can say, ‘Oh my God, I feel stronger. ‘” she says.
“A lot of inclusivity challenges what society has conditioned us to think that looking healthy and beautiful in the fitness industry (and) really delves into honoring your body, listening to what is your body.”