An invite-only workout group is being criticized for using members of a Maasai tribe as literal props for a workout. The group is very popular with models and has been described as “cult-like”.
Friday, Russell Bateman, founder of the group, uploaded photos and videos of the Skinny Bitch Collective (or SBC) in Kenya for a workout retreat. The retreat was scheduled for March 6th to the 13th.
The posts he uploaded to his Instagram for this event, however, have been deleted and his profile is now inaccessible. That’s because he showed his workout group exercising right in front of members of a local Maasai tribe who were guiding the SBC, and in some cases, using them as props for their workouts.
The images and videos were saved by blogger Diet Prada who uploaded them to their own Instagram to ensure they weren’t erased.
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Ummm...happy International Women’s Day? Russell Bateman ( @russellsbc ), the white male mastermind behind the invite-only fitness collective SBC (Skinny Bitch Collective), took a gang of seemingly cloned, pony-tailed white women on a retreat in Kenya. Among the sisterhood-fostering activities like hot air balloon rides, chef-prepared organic meals (that chia berry jam!), and dancing ‘round a tree of life, they also managed to use the local Maasai people not only as a backdrop, but as literal props in their fitness routines. Some videos have already been deleted, but screenshots appear to show the girls writhing around the locals like an obstacle course. Booty twisting on Maasai cloth chick deserves special mention...real classy lol. It’s 2019 and apparently people still haven’t learned that POC/ethnic groups don’t exist to embellish already privileged lives. The Colonial mindset is alive and well I guess... • #internationalwomensday #womensday #sbc #skinnybitchcollective #russellbateman #kenya #africa #poc #maasai #maasaitribe #tribe #health #fitness #retreat #smh #wtf #colonialism #chiaberryjam #lame #maasaishuka
Part of the caption says reads:
“They also managed to use the local Maasai people not only as a backdrop, but as literal props in their fitness routines. The videos have already been deleted, but screenshots appear to show the girls writhing around the locals like an obstacle course.”
The pictures and video uploaded by Diet Prada show some of the SBC workouts such as crawling around the tribe members and running between them. Another video turns from the group performing jumping jacks to film the Maasai standing further away for seemingly no reason.
People online weren’t happy about it.
This makes me SICK!https://t.co/MrTqdoynmS— Grace Myers (@GraceeeMyers) March 10, 2019
Beyond cringy. https://t.co/3TraUYpYGM— Return of the Mac(kenzie) (@KenzieInABox) March 10, 2019
WTF! 😠https://t.co/xkb852EpX0— miss-Demeanor✨ (@World4Humanity) March 10, 2019
Bateman has said the group had to remain near the Maasai, as they were on the tribe’s ancestral land and the tribe voluntarily joined the activities.
However, it still doesn’t look good to see a group of white people using people of color as backdrop and furniture for their own purposes.
🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️🤦♀️ pic.twitter.com/zphxcj9Kvf— 🤨 (@NoelleNyro) March 9, 2019
That's because they aren't true allies i can just imagine what European say about black ppl behind closed doors. Fucking Culture vultures #blackpplaregold— darkCcandy💚 (@lovlyheadon27) March 10, 2019
Bateman had posted an apology before taking down his Instagram page.
He was sorry for the group’s actions and said,
“It has been rightly pointed out that far from promoting a positive meeting of opposing cultures, we may have instead unintentionally played into a racial history of ‘othering’.”
The SBC is a workout group known for their exclusivity. Russell Bateman, the British founder, posts pictures and videos of the workouts the group performs to Instagram, often including famous clients to drum up interest.
The SBC was founded in London and, outside of its exclusive nature, is known for the bizarre “cave-girl sorority” exercises like the aforementioned crawling and galloping with a classmate on your back.
Famous clients such as Victoria’s Secret Angel, Romee Strijd and singer Ellie Goulding are among the participants.