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Johny Dyer: “Create time for yourself”

Right now, I am working towards getting to a high level of competition in CrossFit. I want to create a voice for those who identify as queer and black. I am creating space for myself to become a figure for the kids who identify with little Johny and who know they are different but still […]

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Right now, I am working towards getting to a high level of competition in CrossFit. I want to create a voice for those who identify as queer and black. I am creating space for myself to become a figure for the kids who identify with little Johny and who know they are different but still have a hunger for things they are told aren’t really for them because they are too flamboyant or not “masculine” enough. The documentary we’re currently working on follows a bit of that journey of me juggling all these aspects of my life while trying to become a better version of myself day in and day out. I hope it inspires others to be true to themselves.


As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Johny Dyer, a first-time filmmaker, business owner, and aspiring Crossfit Games competitor tackling issues of representation for queer black athletes across all disciplines. After experiencing setbacks and discrimination, Johny realized he had to be his own biggest cheerleader and sought to inspire others like him using that same philosophy. Johny is the subject and visionary behind a new documentary, which takes viewers on a journey of a young business owner balancing his work, personal and extra-curricular lives, all while discovering himself as an athlete.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, which provided me with an interesting journey. Growing up in a Black religious family that was extremely close with one and other made for a very testing and self-reflecting childhood. I always believed in equality and doing good by others. I learned quickly at a young age that this world wasn’t designed for me, a black boy, to succeed, let alone a young black boy who happened to be queer. All throughout my childhood I was pushed towards fitting in a box, so that everyone around me would feel more comfortable: “Don’t play basketball, take up drama”; or, “How about sticking to dance, instead of playing football?” But I didn’t allow the fear of others’ misunderstanding to hinder my growth as an individual.

When others said no, I proved them wrong and went out and earned my respect and accolades. It was this type of strength and courage I found myself digging to find throughout my entire life. Fast forward to today and it’s that same strength and courage that has gotten me to where I am now in my career and life. An ex-NCAA football player, up-and-coming CrossFit athlete, small gym owner, Lululemon ambassador, Blonyx ambassador, and a respected figure of the community. Furthermore, my accomplishments to this point are only the beginning. This film project is to outreach to and deliver positive messages for those who seek similar identity in what I bring into this world, whether that be an athlete or business owner.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career? Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

The most interesting person I’ve interacted with was Drag Queen Kendall Gender. She reached out to myself and my friend and asked if we wanted to perform as back-up dancers for a gig she was doing — little did we know how big this gig was. We started rehearsing and the more we rehearsed the more I realized that this was a big deal. She finally explained what the gig was (It’s Just Drag) and I nearly lost my mind and then instantly became very nervous. Kendall pulled out all the stops: she had a marching band, a small Coachella set up ,and a sold out show. It was probably one of the dopest moments I’ve ever had the chance to experience in my life so far.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The most interesting project would be this documentary we’re working on about my own journey to inspire others, as well as the rebuilding of my gym during the pandemic.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I’ve always been a Beyonce fan but became a massive super fan the minute I saw her live on her first world tour — after that it was game over. I’ve always been in awe of how she is always changing the game and reinventing herself. Her hard work never goes unnoticed. She just gets her craft and understands the power that she holds with it. The positive energy she puts out is so powerful and moving. It brings me great motivation to keep pushing towards my own purpose!

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

Right now, I am working towards getting to a high level of competition in CrossFit. I want to create a voice for those who identify as queer and black. I am creating space for myself to become a figure for the kids who identify with little Johny and who know they are different but still have a hunger for things they are told aren’t really for them because they are too flamboyant or not “masculine” enough. The documentary we’re currently working on follows a bit of that journey of me juggling all these aspects of my life while trying to become a better version of myself day in and day out. I hope it inspires others to be true to themselves.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

I always found myself to be different — not in a bad way but in a good way, a unique way. I always believed in myself cause I knew that all I can do is fight for myself. My childhood may not have been a perfect one and wasn’t always pretty but it really pushed me to do and be the best I can to help manifest the best for me.

I was on a bus with 50 other Lululemon ambassadors last spring on the way up to Whistler for the annual Lululemon ambassador summit retreat where they select 100 out of thousands of ambassadors around the world. It is there where they provide us with tools to help us better our business practice, and teach mindful meditation and self-awareness. It was on the bus ride up that I started to become more and more curious about my purpose and questioned why I am doing what I am doing. It was there, on that bus ride where I discovered what that was, at least when it comes to fitness and a higher purpose. I knew my purpose was much bigger than me winning the games, or even to medal at the games. It was about a message for those who still are unsure of who they are, in doubt of, or just want some type of guidance. Those who want a familiar voice, someone they can look up to that they can fully relate to.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I decided to share my struggles with my symptoms of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a disease that cannot be diagnosed when alive, but the symptoms are very obvious. Most humans who play contact sports suffer from these symptoms, some worse than others. As an ex-football player, my symptoms at a one point in my life were very bad during the same time I was starting up my gym, and going through a divorce. I was dealing with this all at the age of 23.

When I spoke about and shared this story, many football players that I know who used to play or that I played with reached out for advice on how they can move forward and deal with their own symptoms. The response was very moving and a bit overwhelming but overall a great and successful one.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

  1. Share your experiences.
  2. Listen to others share their experiences.
  3. Understand and try to grow from others’ shared experiences.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Get a good accountant.
  2. Create time for yourself
  3. Travel more.
  4. It’s ok to say no.
  5. Protect your safe space.

I don’t have a particular story for this advice, these are just realizations that I came to throughout my time as a business owner and athlete. I am very big on self-reflection and these are the big ones that I realized I need to work on and improve on, to do and be better.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Making an impact on our society and our environment doesn’t have to be a big change. Everyday work towards doing something good that adds positive energy and vibes into the universe is also important. One day you will find yourself on some sort of grander scale then you ever could have imagined.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Ryan Russell, the football player who came out as bisexual last year. He’s still pursuing his dream despite what people may think or say. He is proud and doesn’t let his love of the sport change who he truly is.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”. I love this quote because it’s a constant reminder that no matter what comes my way, there is always an opportunity for me to get past it. What’s meant for me is meant for me and only I can stop myself from getting to where I am meant to be.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram:@balancedi / @dyerfitnessinc

Facebook: DyerFitness Inc.

Twitter: @balancedi_ @dyerfintessinc

Website: www.dyerfitness.ca

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!


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