Kwynn Butts & Brianna Ryce.
Working out has never been my thing.
Walking, sure. Dancing, obviously. But going to the gym? Absolutely not. I always felt like I was either being judged for going in the first place or I wouldn’t know what to do once I got in there. And if I even FELT a drip of sweat on my edges I was out of there.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to appreciate working out. Not just because I’d love to have Karrueche abs one day, but because it makes me feel good and there are long term health benefits.
As black women we sometimes neglect to work out simply because we’re scared to try. The ladies of The Move Collective are breaking down those barriers and creating safe spaces for women of color to work out. From fun boxing classes to their Cuffing SZN Combine, they’re flipping physical fitness on its head and making it fun and relatable for the modern millennial woman.
I sat down with the founders Kwynn Butts and Brianna Ryce to discuss how they go their start, what motivates them to work out and where they see the brand going next.
Saturday School: So how did you all meet?
Brianna Ryce: It was my first year in New York and we were going on a site visit for our job and I didn’t know where I was going but all I remember was Kwynn walking up and she had blonde dreads [laughs].
Kwynn Butts: We were in Soho!
SS: What made you all want to go into business together?
BR: Well she likes to work out, and I like to work out and I felt like we would be a good fit because we’re similar but different at the same time. So I sent her a work in progress deck and she was like “oh my God yeah, I love this, let's do it.”
KB: To clarify I thought she was just asking me for advice [laughs]. But I was very honored!
SS: I love how you already had a deck presentation for her [laughs]. When thinking of your vision for The Move Collective, who were the women you’re really trying to reach? Is it women who already workout or women (like me) who don’t?
BR: We want to reach everyone. Whether you workout or don’t, we want you to feel welcome and we felt like there weren’t enough spaces like that.
KB: If you’re open to being active we want to make it easily attainable. Even if you don’t do it but you think about it, we want you think about doing it with us.
SS: I was telling Kwynn earlier that I was looking at your page on social and it’s really inviting even for someone like me. Down to the workouts you post on IG stories. Speaking of social, how did you all come up with the look and feel for your brand?
KB: Bri had a good vision for the fitness treatments and we both agreed we wanted to show real women. We always see images of women with six packs or huge bootys and that’s cool but I personally don’t relate to that body type. So to see the average woman doing something fitness related, and thinking “oh I can be that girl” was important to us.
SS: I love and appreciate how attainable the body types you showcase are. They’re also very diverse so it’s easy for any woman to see themselves within the brand. I was looking at J.Lo’s photos and I was like “I can’t get this body tomorrow!”
Do you all have any fitness influencers that you do look up to on social or in the industry?
KB: There definitely are. Breania Smith who does yoga who I know her personally but I’m really proud of her overall journey. Also Nina and Breanna, they’re women that are like us who want to make fitness accessible, less scary and more fun.
BR: I would say Sarah Gorden. She did our summer workout, and she’s real down to earth. We even have similar styles even down to the kicks. Even though she’s in the fitness world, she’s a regular woman as well.
SS: There’s a huge stigma surrounding black women and fitness. Even when I was in college when I was working as a supervisor at the gym I rarely saw black girls there. Granted parts of stereotype are true, but it’s not necessarily true for everyone. Is it part of you alls mission to break that stereotype?
BR: We want to elevate the women who want to be active. I know it’s a stigma but we want to be at the forefront of it. If it doesn’t feel like you’re welcome there you’re not going to be there and that’s what we’re trying to address.
KB: Like we said before, there’s a lot of reason black women may not work out and it’s more than us just not wanting to...because a lot of us want to. We’re hoping to address those barriers to make it easier for them to get over it.
SS: So I loved the Cuffing SZN Combine, I wasn’t there [laughs] but I thought it was a great idea. How do you all come up with your programs and where do you see it going in the future?
BR: For programing we really just bounce ideas off of each other and see if it sticks. With the Cuffing SZN Combine, Kwynn said “I think we should do a Cuffing SZN Combine” and I just looked at her and was like “yo tell me more!” [laughs]. So that’s how it usually goes. We try to have goals and programming objectives that we hit. Sometimes it’s exactly what we outline and or other times it’s just an idea that comes up and we try it. A lot of it is hustle as well. Hustling with our friends or hustling with people we know.
KB: Cuffing SZN is a cultural moment on the calendar and we thought that would be a cool thing to create an event around. We want to do more events around cultural moments to get people more interested.
SS: What advice would you give to someone who doesn’t work out all but wants to start? So basically what advice would you give to me [laughs].
BR: Start small and be realistic. Don’t start with a crazy goal like “I’m going to get a six pack by next week before my vacation!” instead say okay I’m going to schedule my own personal hour where I do 25 core exercises three times. That way you can gradually add from there.
KB: I like that a lot too. It all depends on what is stopping you. I think that there are a lot of opportunities to try things. I think everyone needs to find the workout that works for them. For me I had to learn that I can’t just walk into a gym and start lifting weights. I was an athlete so I know I can, but I need structure so I realized that classes work for me. There’s a lot of things you can try with free trials, you just have to commit. Also realize that working out is about you. You don’t need to train to take a work out class and you don’t need to be in shape. These classes are designed to meet you wherever you are now. It’s literally just showing up. It’s going to suck and you’re going to be sore, but it only gets easier and once you find something you like it gets fun.
SS: That’s real because we get so caught up in the vanity of it all and it’s not really about that.
KB: Yeah and don’t feel pressure to look cute! Throw all that shit away [laughs].
SS: What advice would you give to someone starting their own creative endeavour?
KB: If you want to start a brand you need to figure out what your north star is. What’s your purpose and what is the goal you’re reaching towards. I think sometimes we’re tempted to change our north star but we’re grounded in the fact that we want to make fitness accessible for women of color. I think that being able to communicate that is going to help you build relationships, partnerships and find your brand voice. Everything grows from there. On top of that, just start. Me and my circle of friends talk about this a lot. We have good ideas and they might not be the most original, but the only thing separating us from those people is that they just did it. I don’t think we have the most genius idea ever but we’re doing it and they aren’t.
SS: Last question, what advice would you give to high school you?
BR: It’s going to come. All the things you want to be at 25, is going to come. Because high school me had no hips and no thighs [laughs]. But just work and keep hustling. It’s going to come.
KB: I would tell high school me, even college me and even a little post-college me, to realize that you can literally do what you want now. You don’t need to go to business school to start a business. The ideas I had in high school I could’ve just started them. And lowkey download Instagram sooner so you can start getting shit for free [laughs].