A Black woman with wavy hair in a pony tail wearing a sports bra holds dumbells to her chest, with the other arm raised over her head. In the background, a blonde woman and a brown haired woman in workout clothes copy the workout.
Skye Washington, the owner of Skyefitness, a fitness studio on Park Street, leads an exercise class in her studio Feb. 16, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

It is easy to get stuck in a fitness rut, or put off exercising indefinitely. But when there’s a charismatic, encouraging, no-judgment coach or trainer in your corner, staying fit isn’t so much a chore as it is a gift you give to yourself.

That’s how Bangor-based trainer and fitness class teacher Skye Washington sees it. From the airy, sunny surroundings of her second-floor fitness studio on Park Street in Bangor, she leads classes that she tries to make equal parts fun and a great workout.

“I get so much out of helping people feel better about themselves, both mentally and physically,” Washington said. “If you come out of my class smiling and feeling like you can take on the world, then I have done my job.”

Washington grew up in Bangor and graduated from Bangor High School in the late 1990s. Always an active person, she has been working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer for more than 20 years, both in Connecticut and all around the Bangor area. Most recently, she offered weekly dance fitness classes at the Noh Way School, a dance studio formerly located at 170 Park St., owned by tango instructor Shiwa Noh.

Skye Washington, a Black woman wearing workout clothes, leads an aerobics class in a dance studio
Skye Washington, the owner of Skyefitness, a fitness studio on Park Street, leads an exercise class in her studio Feb. 16, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Classes there were suspended when the pandemic struck in March 2020. So Washington began offering training sessions and classes virtually, patiently waiting for the world to get back to normal. But normal is a moving target — and when protests against police brutality and racism erupted around the world in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, normal suddenly didn’t seem like something Washington wanted to participate in anymore.

For Washington, it was a life-changing moment that inspired her to take the plunge and start her own fitness studio.

“It’s like all the anxiety I’d had in my life began to melt away. I decided that I needed to stop hiding, and start putting myself out there,” Washington said. “I needed to let people know who I am, and to stand up for Black people in Maine. We are here. And we need to be proud of it.”

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Not long after that, Noh decided to move on from her dance studio, and Washington decided to take over the lease at 170 Park St.

Skyefitness opened in January 2021, and in the ensuing year, Washington has attracted a number of new personal training clients as well as regular attendees of her fitness classes. She teaches barre, a workout style that borrows from ballet, pilates and yoga; high-intensity interval training, or HIIT; and dance fitness, a high-energy choreographed dance workout.

A group of women wearing workout clothes are seen following an exercise routine at a dance studio
Skye Washington, the owner of Skyefitness, a fitness studio on Park Street, leads an exercise class in her studio Feb. 16, 2022. Credit: Sawyer Loftus / BDN

Washington said one of her biggest supporters from day one has been Black Owned Maine, the Portland-based nonprofit that supports Black-owned businesses in Maine.

“They put me on their blog. They put my name out there. I got so many customers because of that,” she said. “I did my ancestors proud.”

For a full list of Skyefitness’ classes and other offerings, visit skyesfitness.com.

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.