May is AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month, so we asked social media influencers what it means to them—and how they experience the fitness industry. Sam Pai is a member of 24 Hour Fitness’ FitSquad, and here’s what he had to say.

24Life: What does AAPI pride mean to you?

Sam Pai: Growing up in the United States as a son of immigrants, I’ve always felt a little different than my classmates as I grew up in a predominantly white community. I remember times when I was embarrassed to speak Mandarin to my parents for fear of standing out and drawing attention to myself. As I grew older, I really started to appreciate my heritage and started to understand that my cultural background is what shaped me into who I am today. To me, AAPI pride means being proud of my ethnic background and using it to promote cultural diversity wherever I am.

24Life: As a member of the AAPI community, how do you experience the fitness industry?

SP: As a member of the AAPI community, I’ve always felt a slight sense of displacement in the fitness industry as the majority demographic does not often include Asians, especially Asian men. Asian men have stereotypically been viewed as unathletic and even portrayed as unattractive, weak, or nerdy in the media. I believe this stereotypical view has prevented members of the AAPI community from becoming successful in the fitness industry, as well as even getting noticed in the industry.

However, with the rise of social media over the last decade, I believe these platforms have given people like myself in minority groups the opportunity to break these stereotypes and show that being successful in the fitness industry isn’t about the color of your skin, but more so about the value and positive influence you provide for others. Believing in this mindset has helped me become a sponsored influencer at 24 Hour Fitness, an accomplishment that I hope inspires people of all backgrounds to pursue their passion despite all odds.

24Life: Any words of wisdom to share with other AAPI individuals who are interested in fitness?

SP: My word of advice for any other AAPI individuals who are interested in fitness is to keep it fun! It’s cliché, but if you do what you love, you will always love what you do. Just like any career or hobby, if you want to be successful, you do it because you genuinely enjoy it, not because you want to be Instagram-famous or to make a lot of money. If you want to do fitness as a career, then find a way to provide value to others, whether that be informative workout content or entertainment. At the end of the day, set a goal for yourself and use progress to motivate yourself!

Follow Sam Pai on Instagram @Heroes_Of_Aesthetics

Photo credit: Sam Pai