Strong body, strong mindset: Fitness director and trainer Chretien Yalong works toward a “more inclusive wellness community in Spokane”

After more than seven years with the Federation, General Manager Chretienne Yalung continues to dedicate herself to team fitness and expand that arena of diversity, equity and inclusion.

It’s been a journey, developing in a good way,” said Yalong, 33. “After COVID, that was definitely a challenge, but the union has definitely created a really good basic community.”

In addition to her administrative role, Yalong teaches Spin, TRX and Pilates classes.

“Growing with her as the teaching has evolved over the past two years…just seeing what group fitness looks like…it’s been fun,” she said.

After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from EWU, Yalong focused on continuing her studies in the Physiotherapy track. But once I started the required volunteer work in the field, I quickly realized that it wasn’t the work she wanted to do.

“I honestly didn’t like it,” she said. “It wasn’t the kind of work I’d been seeing myself doing for a long time.”

While searching for a new path, Yalung ended up taking on several jobs at once.

“At that point, I was working four different jobs,” she said, referring to several positions in the service industry and fitness education.

While working in a smaller studio in Moran Prairie, a friend contacted her about a management position at the union. They said it would be part time, 15 hours a week. But it quickly developed into a full-time job.

“I guess at the time I didn’t realize what he was going to evolve into – it was just a different path I could try,” she said. But now, on top of her love of teaching, the job has become a vehicle for other tasks as well.

Since the coronavirus pandemic and the conversation about George Floyd and the Black Lives being significant, Yalong has been able to put more energy into efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion in the world of fitness. As a first-generation Filipino American, this issue has always been close to her heart.

“One of my favorite things… is trying to create a more inclusive healthy community in Spokane,” she said, emphasizing the importance of thinking beyond performance work and making a real effort to embody “what inclusion means.”

In partnership with Lululemon, Yalung and co-founder Taylor Jaderquist recently launched an outreach program that provides diversity and holistic education for health professionals.

“We host workshops to provide accessible education primarily for fitness trainers…therapists, clinicians, educators, and people in all fields learning how to cultivate an inclusive and diverse perspective,” she said, noting how participants from Seattle and Portland have access to these free events.

“Our goal is to do everything for free and only allow education,” she said.

She explained that during COVID-19, finding affordable education in this field has been difficult because finding the right experts is expensive.

“And it’s clearly important that all these leaders, speakers and writers get paid for the work they do,” she said. Fortunately, Lululemon was willing to contribute. Yalong is currently serving her third term as a Lululemon brand ambassador.

Yalung has since recruited her team in the union to attend the workshop.

“We don’t know if our end game is to become a nonprofit, but we have all the tools,” she said. At this point, their goal is to facilitate a quarterly workshop.

Passionate about wellness and fitness across the board, Yalung looks forward to sharing this world with as many people as possible.

She said, “It’s really great to be able to work with athletes, whether it’s long-term or short-term…to feel empowered in their bodies and be able to say, ‘Oh my God, I feel strong.'”

“A big part of inclusivity is challenging how society has made us think about looking healthy and beautiful in the fitness industry (and) really diving into honoring your body, and listening to what your body is.”