Earth Day 2022: #FitnessDeclares a Climate Emergency

This Earth Day 2022 I declare that we are in a climate emergency!

I call on Canadian fitness professionals and the Canadian fitness industry to declare a climate emergency with me #FitnessDeclares!

As fitness instructors working in the era of a climate crisis, can we afford to compartmentalize our emotions and our lives? If we are feeling unsettled by what we are hearing about the climate crisis, is it not in the best interest of ourselves, our participants, our industry and our planet to recognize these feelings as a compass pointing us to what matters most to us?

As a group fitness professional with training in mindfulness who is also engaged in learning about the climate crisis and exploring where my available agency lies, it is my hope that other fitness professionals will see themselves reflected in this need to decompartmentalize. I invite you to consider adopting a more climate-aware approach to your fitness offerings for members of your own community.

Fitness Declares a Climate Emergency call to action for Earth Day 2022 from ECJF

My Fit Pro Response to “Power Up Your Why: Revolutionize 2022 By Declaring Your Why

In the January/February 2022 issue of canfitpro magazine, fitness professionals, or fit pros, were invited to use a lesson plan for discovering and declaring their WHY. They were also given the option of taking a free online quiz for a continuing education credit and encouraged to share their WHY statement on social media and tag #canfitpro. I did all three.

As I share my quiz responses below, I keep in mind, and ask you to keep in mind, this important guidance from the article: “As one last piece of advice, do not wait for the “perfect” WHY. You will never have the perfect WHY statement. Your WHY is a living thing. It grows and changes throughout your career as a fitness professional. Keep doing the work to refine it.”

What is your WHY?

I exist to inspire climate-aware movement so that together we can take real climate action for the health of ourselves, our communities, and our planet.

What are three specific ways HOW you will bring your WHY to life?

I will create short climate-aware movement choreographies

I will share my climate-aware movement choreographies in small groups

I will continue climate activism which includes on-line activities as well as joining in walks, etc.

What difference do you hope to make in the world?

I hope to inspire fit pros and the fitness industry to take real climate action. We need to declare a climate emergency like other professionals and industries, such as in arts, music, etc. The climate crisis is the biggest health crisis not only affecting our species but our very ecosystems. I also want to inspire my participants to take real climate action to counter climate apathy and eco-anxiety so that we are working for a positive vision of our shared future on this planet.

My Fit Pro declaration of my WHY for Anna Nieminen ECJF


I am canfitpro certified in Fitness Instructor Specialist (FIS), Stress Resiliency and other certifications. I’ve been reading canfitpro magazine for years, and I can see that many fitness professionals take themselves very seriously when it comes to the role of fitness in promoting health. I can see that the Canadian fitness industry is advancing in Diversity & Inclusion, and in fostering positive relationships with movement and our bodies.

But where I don’t see movement in the fitness industry is in recognizing that we are in a climate crisis. We fit pros need to “Look Up!”; in fact, we need to “Look all around us!” Because, ultimately, we can’t have healthy people without a healthy planet, including healthy communities. I am taking inspiration from Artists for Real Climate Action (ARCA), Culture Declares Emergency, and Music Declares Emergency, among other groups of professionals making climate emergency declarations, and I say #FitnessDeclares! I’m also saying #NoFitnessOnASickPlanet. This hashtag is inspired by the Music Declares slogan #NoMusicOnADeadPlanet.

#NoFitnessOnASickPlanet for Earth Day 2022 from ECJF

I am also taking inspiration from organizations like 350Canada and the Council of Canadians whose members are working for a Just Transition. I am also taking inspiration from cities, like Toronto where I live, that have declared climate emergencies and have ambitious climate action strategies.

Let’s Just Imagine GREEN JOBS NOW including in fitness, Anna Nieminen at March 12 Day of Action for a Just Transition

And, most importantly, I am also taking inspiration from Indigenous organizations, like Indigenous Climate Action and the Assembly of First Nations, that have declared climate emergencies, as well as from Indigenous communities and their land defenders and water protectors like Judy Da Silva, Autumn Peltier, Ellen Gabriel, and Sleydo’ Molly Wickham, as well as Clayton Thomas-Muller.

Beyond taking inspiration, I want to be a supporter and an ally for the sake of moving forward, together. Dr. Shannon Waters writes: “The Ecosystem Is Our Health System” and “Indigenous Sovereignty Is Sustainability”. As fitness professionals, we need to start thinking beyond the silo that is fitness and its practices and learn about the determinants of health, including the health of the environment. I am learning about walking and “living in Indigenous sovereignty” myself and sharing my learnings on my website.

Two quotes by Dr. Shannon Waters from Visioning the Future report (NCCIH)

Can Looking Up Be Looking Forward?

I consider myself a climate-aware fitness professional, and I believe that as an industry we need to “Look Up!” and start acknowledging the climate crisis. And not just acknowledging the climate crisis but doing something about it.

Rather than sedentary living or lifestyle disease, I believe the climate crisis is the biggest health crisis we are facing. My belief is based on scientific facts. Some of us may recall hearing in the news last August 2021 that UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the latest (at that time) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report a “code red for humanity.” In October 2021, ahead of the COP26 UN climate conference, the Global Climate and Health Alliance released an open letter signed by over 450 health organizations representing over 45 million health workers around the world that said “the climate crisis is the single biggest health threat facing humanity.” Can fitness professionals really advance health, including health equity, if we are not recognizing that ‘business as usual’ when it comes to climate change will ultimately cause more harm than good to public health in both the Global North and the Global South? Not only do we need to “Look Up!”, we need to “Look All Around Us!”

This Earth Day 2022, the fitness industry can take inspiration from the “Invest in Our Planet” message at Earth Day: The Official Site.

This is the moment to change it all — the business climate, the political climate, and how we take action on climate. Now is the time for the unstoppable courage to preserve and protect our health, our families, and our livelihoods.

For Earth Day 2022, we need to act (boldly), innovate (broadly), and implement (equitably). It’s going to take all of us. All in. Businesses, governments, and citizens — everyone accounted for, and everyone accountable. A partnership for the planet.

Maureen “Mo” Hagan’s Note from the COO in the January/February 2022 issue of canfitpro magazine began with the dictum “Don’t Look Up – Look Forward”. While her note was a ‘pep talk’ on remaining optimistic and resilient “in the face of what we continue to tolerate heading into year three of the pandemic”, my blog is a call to action about the climate crisis.

Mo challenges us to “decide how [we] want to show up…” and “be the change [we] seek in the world…”. Challenge accepted. And so, here I am showing up on my own blog and challenging fitness professionals and the mainstream fitness industry to declare a climate emergency with me.

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