Bethany C. Meyers: CEO of an Inclusive Empire
Bethany C. Meyers is a LGBTQIA+ activist and feminist based out of New York City. They have a booming Instagram presence, on which they are completely and totally authentic about their struggles and successes. They discuss issues of identity, sexuaity, eating disorders, fitness, self-love, and more while creating an open and welcome environment for their followers to connect with them over shared experiences.
Meyers is the founder and CEO of the be.come project, a holistic, online, workout experience with accessible twenty-five minute routines you can do with Meyers themselves. I had a chance to speak with Meyers over the phone and dig a little deeper into creating the company, and who they are as an activist and entrepreneur.
Morgan Gjoen: Can you start by telling me how you got into fitness/your fitness journey?
Bethany Meyers: Fitness is definitely an accident for me, I thought that this would be my career because when I came out of college, I really wanted to focus on the environmental aspect of public relations. I moved to Los Angeles and gotm what I thought was, my dream job.
On paper, this job was everything that I wanted, but I just hated what I was doing. I hated that I didn’t have a lot of human interaction on a daily basis, and I remember thinking I don’t even want my bosses’ job. That was a real eye opener for me. I had this gut feeling that is was time to go or time to change something, so I just sort of dove right in and did it.
Growing up I always taught little kids cheerleading and dance classes. When I was searching for a job, I found someone that was opening up a studio, and was hired as the manager and studio director. I started teaching the workout classes there and that was kind of my first jump into fitness.
I’ve always worked on the corporate side of fitness, too in studio management and teacher training. I was doing the parts of public relations, marketing, and advertising I enjoyed, but I was also able to interact with people and help them on a day to day basis.
Eventually, I came to New York, where I worked for a studio for 5 years as their director of training and development, where I hired and trained every instructor that came through our doors and managed them. I had built up a following of clients from all the different cities I had lived in, and I wondered, how can I still engage with those clients who are far away and make them feel like they’re still coming to my class?
That’s what the be.come project was originally born out of. I knew I really wanted an online class aspect so that I could reach all of these people that I knew were in my network. I wanted it, though, to feel like a chic studio instructor had come into your home, not just like another home fitness tutorial. The messaging evolved from there, about inclusivity and body positivity, and working out for reasons other than simply losing weight.
Morgan: As you’re going into making your Instagram videos, what’s your thought process? What’s the core idea you want to get across to your potential customer base?
Bethany: I have a hard time with the fitness industry that’s like, “Sign up now and in 12 weeks lose x amount of weight!” All of these big, overall promises. I don’t want to force people to sign up, I want them to sign up because they feel connected to my concept and my idea. When I’m posting though, I pretend like everyone watching is actually a client of mine, even though many might not be subscribers yet. I post things that I think that they need to see, or maybe things that they would be inspired by, and hope that they see how much I care, see how I’m communicating, see the routines, and see what the be.come project is all about.
Morgan: What does health mean to you?
Bethany: When thinking about health, I don’t think that the focus should be about losing weight, because I think working out thinking “I’m going to lose x amount of weight,” you’re going to eventually become discouraged when the weight loss slows down, and it’s going to become something you dread doing. When we’re constantly doing something that we dread, we can’t learn to love it. It’s not something that can become a good part of our everyday life.
My thought is let’s just take the focus of losing weight out of the equation. Let’s just start creating a twenty-five minute space for ourselves every day where we go and we move and we feel good so we begin to actually enjoy what just so happens to be a workout. The routines for the be.come project are about how to move the body on a weekly basis to, essentially, affect change. So, it’s not that losing weight doesn’t happen, but it’s more about shifting the focus away from losing weight and focusing on what feels good and then letting the other stuff be a byproduct of that.
Morgan: I’m not sure if you make a point to do it, but the idea of “self-love” really comes through your social media, so I just wanted to ask—what does self-love mean to you?
Bethany: I think self-love is interesting because it’s really difficult to love ourselves all of the time. Sometimes you can’t help but think, but I don’t love myself right now, and then beat yourself up for not self-loving. It can be a vicious cycle. I was recently talking to someone about the term, “body neutrality” being used in place of “body positivity,” We don’t have to feel positive about our bodies all the time. The reality is, we’re not constantly loving our bodies, but we have to be okay with that too. I think you can look in the mirror, and think, I’m having a really hard time loving myself today, and then saying that’s okay, I can be in a place where I’m having a hard time loving myself today. That in itself is self-love because self-love is really just acceptance. Self-acceptance.
Morgan: As people learn to accept their bodies, do you have any advice on taking the approach of body neutrality?
Bethany: So, something that’s helped me a lot is to consider beauty trends and then ask yourself if any of your ideas of beauty on that trend have shifted. For example, eyebrows. Eyebrows in the nineties were super thin and now we’re looking back at these tiny little eyebrows, and we’re like, What were we doing? Or boob size. Smaller breasts have become more accepted recently, where, for a while, everyone was getting enhancements. Gaps between the teeth. Freckles became a trend. You know, a lot of these things that for so long we considered “ugly,” our views have shifted on.
So when I look at something on myself that I consider “ugly,” I’m try to make myself think, can I just change my perception of this? I grew out armpit hair a year ago, and now I think armpit hair is really really beautiful. You know, somewhere out there, somebody probably loves the thing about you that you think isn’t attractive. So much of beauty is just what we have been told is beautiful.
Morgan: Along with accepting yourself, I know you have been very open on social media with your sexual and gender fluidity. Do you have any advice for people struggling to come out and accept their identities in that way?
Bethany: Well I think that the decision to speak really openly about your gender or your sexuality is entirely dependent on the person. For many people, there will come a time when it is more difficult to keep silent than to speak out. If someone is more than happy being quiet though, then that’s okay too. We have to consider that this world is filled with people of many cultures--cultures where people literally cannot live their truth, who cannot speak out without alienating themselves or putting their lives in danger. I think that’s what has really motivated me to tell my stories. A lot of the things I speak about on a personal level are not easy for me to talk about, but then someone will write to me and thank me, or tell me how much my story comforted them in some way, or made them feel a little less alone. It helps me remember why I do share my stories. I’m able to be a voice, in some way, for those people.
Morgan: What are your hopes for the be.come project going forward?
Bethany: I would say my biggest hope for be.come is that it becomes much more than just a workout, it becomes a lifestyle. I would love for the app and for the online space to be a place where you can get away and create time for yourself. A cool feature that we have in the app is that to unlock and complete each routine, a question comes up, and it says, “How do you feel?” So every single time that you do movement, you’re going in and you’re charting, like “How do I feel?” as opposed to the app you know, telling you, “You feel great! You’re so excited!” Because, you know, sometimes you may not be. Some days you may feel unmotivated. That’s okay. I want this to be a place where we say, you know, this is how I’m feeling today, this is the time I’m giving myself, and then be able to connect with other people who are feeling the same.
Morgan: For your app and the be.come project, do you ever see it evolving to a point where it’s more than discussion about fitness, it’s more of a discussion about health and mental health as well?
Bethany: You know, the mental health aspect has played its own part without me ever actively catering to it. I’ve had people come to me like, this has really helped my anxiety, I was having a panic attack, I was feeling depressed, and now I’m feeling better. That’s not something, originally, I was pushing for, but it’s so beautiful that this has been an outlet for people in that way. My goal was that, at the end of the day, people feel better in their own body, and sometimes that has a lot to do with our mental state. You know, I always talk about the queer community and how people who are trans or nonbinary are often the people who feel the most uncomfortable in their physical bodies, and so I hope that this can be an outlet for all of these different things in whatever way you need to feel better in your own skin.