Sure, your weekly workout can change your body and mindset—but what if it could change the world?
Enter Nwando Emejulu. The beloved movement instructor was born in Paris and raised in Gabon, Central Africa, where she grew up staying active whenever possible. Twenty years ago, she relocated to New York City and, in 2015, she fell in love with Pilates—finding her calling. Since then, she’s been featured by numerous publications, including making Popsugar’s list of top “35 Women of Color Making Moves in Health & Wellness.”
In June of 2020, inspired by “the horrific display of injustice across the nation,” she and co-founder Julie Schott established Move With Purpose (MWP), an organization that seeks to transform a typical weekly workout into a long-term commitment to social justice. Each month, the organization uses the funds they’ve raised via weekly classes (with 100% of net proceeds to charity) to support a different non-profit that raises up the Black community.
For the month of October, while also “In Residence” with Live The Process, MWP’s classes will benefit A Long Walk Home, a non-profit that encourages the next generation of leaders to end violence against all girls and women by advocating for racial and gender equity in schools, communities and our country-at-large.
Here, Nwando Emejulu shares what motivated her to create this vehicle for social change:
LIVE THE PROCESS: Can you talk a bit about your relationship to movement growing up?
NWANDO EMEJULU: I was pretty hyper growing up, so if I wasn’t playing soccer with my two half brothers, I was learning jazz dance or swimming (starting when I was 5). I always loved how my body felt after physical activity.
LTP: What made you fall in love with Pilates and makes you continue to embrace the practice?
NE: When I first started, connecting my breathing to how I engaged my abs was something I had never done before. I felt more connected to how my muscles worked and noticed how much stronger and calmer I felt after each session.
Recently, after working together for two months, one of my clients told me that she had lost 15lbs and felt stronger and more confident than ever. I felt like such a proud parent! That’s what Pilates can do.
LTP: In June 2020, you founded Move With Purpose (or MWP)—a weekly Pilates class with 100% of proceeds going to important causes. A lot was happening in the US—and across the world—at that time. Can you talk about what inspired you and your co-founder Julie Schott to do something?
NE: We wanted to help—with pure intentions. We wanted to help and do more than just donate one time or offer a onetime donation-based class. Moving is important for our bodies, so, we figured, why not work out to take care of our bodies and minds, while also supporting people in need in the Black community?
LTP: Since starting, what have you guys managed to raise/donate?
NE: We’ve raised 33k and counting!
Since starting our weekly donation-based class, we have donated to a different organization every month that fights for social justice and supports the Black community. The money has been donated across the Loveland Foundation and Black Female Therapists (two organizations that provide mental health resources for Black women), The Marsha P. Johnson Institute (which advocates for the rights of the Black trans community) and the Black Women's Health Imperative (which provides resources and seeks health equity for all Black women and girls).
In October, all of our classes—including our partnership with Live The Process—will go to supporting A Long Walk Home (a non-profit that encourages the next generation of leaders to end violence against all girls and women by advocating for racial and gender equity in schools, communities and our country-at-large).
LTP: Why, in times like these especially, is it so important to act, support the causes you care about and try to make the world a better place?
NE: Personally, I wish I had started sooner. The world needs more kindness and tolerance. Supporting causes that fight injustice and inequalities will for sure make the world a better place, one step at a time .
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
NE: Happiness looks like living life with a peaceful mind and no fear, surrounded by your loved ones.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
NE: For me, it means live life and enjoy the journey, however bumpy the road gets.
There’s this Brené Brown quote that embodies that same concept to me: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”
We can “Live The Process” every day by being a bit more grateful, a bit kinder with ourselves and others and by being more vulnerable.
Image Via Stefano Giacomello