You don’t hear people speak about health and fitness often in the black community. As of lately, we hear a lot of conversations about uplifting and empowering black entrepreneurs and black businesses but not so much about the health aspect. Although the conversation itself is rare, it doesn’t mean it’s unimportant or a topic to shy away from. Health, in general, is an issue for many cultures and has been for decades and fitness coach/motivational speaker Irv Hyppolite is using this as the driving force behind his passion.
I had the chance to catch up with Irv to talk about his fitness upbringing, his views on health in the black community, how he started The Inner U boot camp, his link up with New Balance and much more in our interview below.
How did you to get into fitness and being an instructor?
Well, when I was 18/19 I started to take working out seriously. I knew pretty early on that people treat you better, and respect you differently when you show that you respect yourself enough to be the best version of you… as far as being an instructor/fitness coach, I hired a trainer(now my mentor) to get me ready for arena football and working with him for a summer made realize how incredible one’s mind has to be to change someone else mentally and physically, so I wanted to learn the craft and he taught me how to do it.
2 – What were some of your main sources of inspiration to get into fitness?
Terrell Owens ( I know that’s weird) but I grew up watching how he took care of his body and worked out harder than any other player on his team. I aspired to be that unapologetic and driven lol. Also, my uncle..he had weights in his basement all my life and was the most driven person I’ve ever met but and then got hit with type 2 diabetes … I do this for him.
3 – In your opinion, do you think that fitness is a cultural lifestyle? In other words, why do you think black communities lack good health?
Good question, I think it is a cultural lifestyle but I think we don’t give it the respect it deserves, we could dig into the system of how they (barely )educate black communities on health, the Popeyes on every corner, or even how the media target’s minorities but on the surface level… I think the lack of good health comes from us not seeing a fair representation of healthy eating, the gym being a 365 and not just a vacation-ready thing. After Billy Blanks, we got Shawn T, and neither of them did anything then who else?
4 – How would you describe the state of black health in today’s world?
It’s on the right track but still far from the zenith. Right now it’s so gimmicky that you have to really dig to find quality information in it. Also, POC didn’t give health/fitness the attention it needed till Instagram and hashtags made it trendy then vanity kicked in. 10 years ago you would look at me funny for carrying a gallon of water with my book bag… now people understand “YOU NEED WATER” lo. Also, it’s also not popular in media outlets that are NOT fitness related, yet it’s a lifestyle and you still see a lot of blogs/sites with that section who don’t cover fitness enough.
5 – You started a workout boot camp called The Inner U. How did you go about starting that? What was that creative process like?
That’s my baby lol, I started inner U back in 2016. The goal was to create a space for POC, that made working out fun and affordable, while addressing cultural issues, and celebrating empowerment… it’s bigger than me at this point,
6 – Aside from getting people in shape, what are some of your main goals when it comes to The Inner U?
Great question, it’s impact has helped so many people with their weight goals but more-so mentally. We’ve donated money to charities, hold clothing drives, touch on social topics, and even celebrate things like women’s history month, stress awareness month, and etc. the main goal for me is to provide something that people will take home after those 60mins, a new lease on life that can’t be erased with space or time.
7 – You pride your boot camps on mixing fitness, hip-hop, and culture into one. Explain what that means.
Yea, so I craft the hip-hop playlist to fit the class, whether it’s a women’s only playlist, black history month playlist or even a Houston playlist during the time they were hit with a devastating hurricane. All these things are part of us and it shows that while we’re working out there’s a bigger picture here and we’re going to do our part to honor that.
8 – Social media plays a huge role in helping market and advertise a brand. How else does a fitness instructor get their name out there to help contribute to their brand but to also show the legitimacy of your brand?
Make people happy lol. Word of mouth is the biggest factor for me. If you create a product that has morals, stands for something, and shows promise in the success rate of people who come getting in the best shape of their lives, you can move the needle because people want to share that experience with others, and who doesn’t want to be in better shape? It’s almost a no-brainer. The class is sold out 85% of the time, and it’s new faces every week… that means people are getting the message across.
9 – You recently teamed up with New Balance on a project. How did you link up with the brand and what is the project based on?
S/o to the guys at New Balance, a rep from NB reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in working with them on a winter series project. She was familiar with my work and felt that a partnership would make sense. The project is basically a signed deal to bring Inner U Bootcamp to the flagship store seasonally and free of charge for y’all. They gave me the space to create and control the narrative of my brand while aligning with me to give the public the ultimate New Balance x Inner U experience.
10 – What are some of your personal goals and/or aspirations for fitness? For the black community?
My goals are to make sure every month I give back to “us.” I have a platform and I believe, big or small, it means nothing if you’re not changing the lives of people with it, you’re not doing enough. I aspire to create “generational HEALTH” and that basically means create a better today so we can give our kids these gems and they can pass it on to their kids after. That’s how we beat obesity, diabetes, and all the other complications we’re leading the league in.
11 – What’s next for Irv Hyppolite for the second quarter of 2018?
A lot lol. We want to test out The Inner U in a couple other cities, start production on my online training program, and release a couple more pieces from my apparel line “DCSR”…. and that’s just the top layer.