Pull For Pride Athlete Sonja R. Herbert: "Educate Yourself FIRST."

Name: Sonja R. Herbert

Age: 49

Pronouns: She/Her

Pull for Pride location: Brooklyn

Favorite song to listen to while training: Anything Cardi B or Prince. I also have a playlist called HELP that I can use for anything 

Favorite post-training meal: No specific favorites, just a lot of food.

Instagram: @commandofitnesscollective @blackgirlpilates

How do you identify? Tell us a little about yourself:

Hmmm Identify ... well I am a badass, female, straight, Pilates instructor, Yoga and lifting lover, mom of two amazing adults. I originate from the Red/racist state of Texas and have lived in NYC for 19 years. 

What does Pull for Pride mean to you and what's motivating you to participate?

I was honored to have had two amazing trans women in my life who inspired me and that I truly loved with everything I had. This was during my social work days. They have both since died and basically died within a year of each. I was devastated. They had very similar experiences with their families. Both had supportive families who accepted them as the beautiful women they were however, they both struggled with health issues, substance use and homelessness.
My very first trans woman client did not have the same experience and was forced out of her home. Even without the needed support, she educated herself and was working for a local legal organization who was partly responsible for changing the bathroom laws.
These women changed my life and my thinking about the world as a whole. I know there are family (LGBTQI) who do not have their circumstances and I want to help make things better for them.

When did you begin barbell training and what inspired you to start?

I started in junior high school lifting and have done various different types of lifts since then. I’ve never competed in any lifting contest but I'm strongly considering powerlifting (I need to stop procrastinating).

What do you find fulfilling about training?

I suffer from depression and anxiety. Pulling something heavy is like a damn release.

What do you find challenging?

Being consistent is difficult. Life gets in the way. Sometimes depression. I try to give myself room and time to feel better, but sometimes it takes longer than I would think.

What message or advice do you have for folks who might want to start strength training but aren't sure how or where to begin?

I started on my own in junior high with no one's help. There was no social media back then, so I would find books to read. I would say to do some research and look at videos.  Not everyone can afford a trainer, but maybe consider a class with a strength training component and start there.

Do you have any advice or encouragements for cisgender and straight allies who want to help make the gym a more welcoming space for trans and queer folks?

Educate yourself FIRST.... don’t ASK trans and queer folks to expend emotional labor for you.
Google is a BIG help. Attend the Pride parade and make genuine friendship. Invite them to your events. Shut down transphobic, queerphobic, etc, conversations amongst friends and family so they know you won’t stand for that type of  talk around you, or anyone else. Hire or even train queer/trans folks.
Check out @decolonizing_fitness, @rootedresistance and @lgbtq_poc_health to see the amazing things these family members are doing.

Do you have a strength role model(s) in your life (this could be strength training or strength in other ways)?

My strength role models are every Black woman who lifts!

As far as just every day, get my life.... my friends Briana, Emma, Aisha, Latrice, Rona... these ladies inspire me everyday.


Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I’ll be 50 this year and I’m equals parts fucking excited and scared! 😂