An interview with our Soul icon, Claire.
We sat down with the iconic Claire J—one of our NYC instructors—to get her perspective on the significance of this month, and the power of positivity.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
It recognizes people who have influenced me, influenced my mother, influenced her mother. Who have influenced our culture on a more personal level. And it’s important to continue these people’s legacies, these icons. These people who have really changed the world, these people who wouldn’t have been recognized. And continue their legacy by celebrating them for at least a month—a year.
Who is your icon?
My icon is my Mother. She is a true icon in her own right. She is a single Black mom and I think for me my image of what a Black woman is, is her. She works hard, she’s smart, and she takes care of her family...those are very iconic qualities. Especially this month, we need to be celebrating our black women and continuing to lift them up—and there’s no stronger Black woman than my mom.
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel most empowered when I have the ability to empower others or uplift others or inspire others. I don’t think there’s any greater responsibility we have as instructors than to continue to lift our people up. It’s such a privilege and it makes me so thankful to be in a space like this—to have a community like this—because every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, I have an opportunity to be the best part of somebody’s day. And that’s when I feel most empowered.
It’s a huge responsibility on our backs, and as instructors, we take that very seriously. One of the feelings that I got—I’ve been lifted up so many times in class—my body has changed, my spirit has changed, simply just from staying consistent in that room. So if I can be empowered from the experience, then I know other people are capable of the same experience. And it’s my job to get them there. And that’s a big weight. But it’s also very empowering if you know that you are really cultivating real change in someone.
How do you strengthen your community’s bonds?
I strengthen my community's bonds by reminding them that we’re from all walks of life. And for us to be in one room together for 45 minutes—especially in a place like New York City—for us to be able to connect for 45 minutes and lift each other up and share a part of ourselves for 45 minutes...is so unbelievable and doesn’t happen in a lot of places. So I strengthen bonds by reminding them how rare it is and how much of a privilege it is to be able to connect with so many different people. Even if you don’t come from the same place, even if you don’t believe the same things, that it’s possible to still share a part of yourself and be vulnerable in front of someone that you don’t even really know for 45 minutes and to really cherish that experience. That’s the best way I try to connect everybody. Reminding them that you don’t have to come from the same place or be the same person to connect or uplift somebody.