In this episode, Founder of Leg Up Fitness and Wellness, Dr. Sherrill Williams, talks about diversity, equity, and inclusion in physical therapy.

Today, Sherrill talks about the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry. What are schools doing successfully to bring in DEI?

Hear about the limiting qualification process into schools, her take on the rhetoric: “now people are just getting in because they’re black”, and Sherrill’s ideas for getting more DEI into the industry, all on today’s episode of The Healthy, Wealthy & Smart Podcast.


Key Takeaways

  • “Sometimes, on paper, we just don’t [shine], but that doesn’t have anything to do with how compassionate we are, or how smart we are, or how we’ll be as a physical therapist.”
  • “Be the change.”
  • “White people get things because they’re white, all the time. Not based on merit. Not based on skill. Based on who they know or a back door.”
  • “I am the person, right now, in 2021, that is trying to start building generational wealth for my family.”
  • “Now that I see this [black] woman as my professor, I know I can do anything.”


More About Dr. Williams here:

Headshot of Dr. Sherrill Williams A lifelong dancer and lover of the performing arts, Dr. Williams committed most of her life to studying Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Hip Hop. It was not until her commitment to losing 90 lbs that she fell in love with fitness, and wanted to find a way to fuse her love of dance with health and wellness. This new mission sparked a fire that led to Dr.Williams receiving her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from New York University. Shortly after she founded Leg Up Fitness and Wellness, an online fitness company for performers that want their workout to feel less like exercise and more like dance. Leg Up’s client credits include but are not limited to The 1st US National Tour of Aladdin, Hamilton, Lion King, Lizzo, Jidenna, John Legend, Todrick Hall, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Dr. Williams is a passionate advocate for dance injury pre-habilitation and rehabilitation and loves helping dancers around the U.S. virtually and in person.


Suggested Keywords

Healthy, Wealthy, Smart, Physiotherapy, Dance, Fitness, DEI, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Initiatives, Generational Wealth, Change, Transformation, Opportunities,


To learn more, follow Dr. Williams at:



TikTok:            @legupfitness

Instagram:       @legupfitness

Facebook:       Sherrill Williams


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Read the Full Transcript Here:


Welcome to the healthy, wealthy and smart podcast. Each week we interview the best and brightest in physical therapy, wellness and entrepreneurship. We give you cutting edge information you need to live your best life healthy, wealthy and smart. The information in this podcast is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used as personalized medical advice. And now, here’s your host, Dr. Karen Litzy.



Hey everybody, welcome back to the podcast. I’m your host Karen Litzy. Today’s episode is brought to you by Net Health. So when it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and increasing referrals, net house digital marketing solutions, has the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found get chosen and definitely get those five star reviews on Google. They have a fun new offer if you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how Net Health Digital Marketing Solutions can help your clinic when they’ll buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using that health private practice EMR Be sure to ask about its new integration, head over to net forward slash li tz why to sign up for your complimentary audit today. And like I’ve said before I actually use this product it works man did a bump me up in the Google search was awesome. Now on to today’s podcast, which is being hosted by the ever wonderful Dr. Jenna cantor. And in today’s episode, she interviews Dr. Cheryl Williams, a lifelong dancer and lover of the performing arts, Dr. Williams committed most of her life to studying ballet, modern jazz and hip hop. It was not until her commitment to losing 90 pounds that she fell in love with fitness and wanted to find a way to fuse her love of dance with health and wellness. This new mission sparked a fire that led Dr. Williams to receiving her doctor physical therapy degree from New York University. Shortly after she founded leg up fitness and wellness an online fitness company for performers that want their workout to feel less like exercise and more like dance leg UPS client credits include but are not limited to the first US national tour of Aladdin, Hamilton Lion King Lizzo Jidenna John Legend Todrick Hall, and complexions contemporary ballet. Dr. Williams is a passionate advocacy for dance injury, pre habilitation, and rehabilitation, and loves helping dancers around the US virtually and in person. So big thank you to Jenna and to Sherelle for coming onto the podcast so everyone enjoys today’s interview.



Hello, healthy, wealthy and smart. This is Jenna cantor. I’m here with Dr. Sharon Williams, and I cannot be so grateful. So much more grateful right now to be on here with you. First of all, thank you, Sharon, for coming on to talk. Thank



you. Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be Yeah,



I love it. I’m really grateful on so many levels, the one we’re friends to. And I think this is where I’m starting with where I’m comfortable and where I need to expand. So I’m just owning up to this. In physical therapy. I don’t know a lot of black physical therapists, like holy crap. And so you’re one of my few. And when I really took account, I took accountability. And I was like, Oh my God, a few people that I know who are black. So I’m starting with people I know. And then I’ll expand out to more and more and more and more and more people and increase my network. But that is sad. After calling myself out. I am really excited to be talking about diversity equity inclusion. I feel like that was a pretty good segue because that is yeah, that is legit. So let’s go back. You are a new grad congratulations. Thank you. We made it. We made it made it Sherelle is one of those people who thinks big and then achieves the big. So she’s a nice person to be regularly inspired by and I’m super grateful to know you Sherelle. So diversity, equity and inclusion. What rehearing that whole statement in as one what are some first thought that comes to mind when it when it comes to physical therapy? There is no wrong answer. I just want your truth.



Well, I was gonna say when you like yeah, you’re like one of the few black people I know that’s a physical therapist. I was like me too, girl. Oh, no, me neither. Oh, I didn’t know. Yeah, um, to be honest, I think it was CSM where they had a, a networking event and I was like, oh, there is a little community of us but we’re just all scattered or you know around the world. But when I think of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within physical therapy, you know? No, I don’t want to say non existent, but it’s just, it’s very small. You know, when I went to NYU, you know, I did visit a few schools. When I was doing the audition process when I was



Joe and I both are performers, as well. So that’s what why audition process came to her mind. That’s hilarious.



When I was going through, like the interview process, and I was looking at different schools, and like NYU, you was one of the few schools that you know, I did see quite a few black people. And I had, there was seven of us in my class, and two men, two black men, which is like crazy that I’m excited about to black men. But like, you don’t see it at all.



No, you don’t.



And it’s an it’s unfortunate, because it’s such an amazing field. And I’m still kind of at the point where I’m like, is it that we are not applying? Because we don’t know? Or is it that? You know, they’re not letting us in the door? And I haven’t really figured that out yet. But I do I do feel like a part could be, we don’t know. Because a lot of times I feel like especially in the African American community. And you can also say African because those communities are very different. Culturally, you know, people No, go go be an ND nd ND, ND, ND nd? Or what do we need to do to get more people of color in or black people. Because I think that’s going to do wonders when it comes to the community and getting people up. And, and healthy. Because unfortunately, in our culture, not many of us, I think my generation is more, it’s a lot more active, but the older generation, not move until I think when we get more more people of color in into the field, and then we’re talking about it. And we’re excited about it, you know, then the community will come to and we’ll see, you know, more people being active. And that’s just my theory. That’s what I’ve seen based on, you know, my family when I started school, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about moving. And my mom is like, oh, yeah, I’ll go get a trainer. Or I’ll do this or I’ll move or they you know, they see me we can lead by example.



This is so helpful. Because everything and what you’re calling rambling I call a more clear insight into what’s true in your mind regarding diversity, equity and inclusion. And it’s not just one component that it there’s a need to be looking upon. First of all, with defining diversity, equity inclusion for you, like it seemed as though we’re talking about black people, right now, we’re just in which is that’s absolutely, we’re not seeing it. i There were very few in my class, and I didn’t think anything of it. You know, to me, the fact that there were some people who are black, there were some people who were Asian, there were some people of some sort of Indian descent was like, wow, look at us, but there could be more. I agree from what, yeah, I still as a white person, I did not feel like a minority at all. In that group. In that setting. I felt just like, you know, hey, which is Yeah. My point is, from all these little things, let’s start separating out different things that you were mentioning, first of all, with getting people in getting people into the profession, how did you get reached?



I, to be honest, I sort of think I got into NYU, praise God, I did apply to like 13 schools. I only got into NYU, and I honestly think it’s because they had an interview process. Because on paper I didn’t have like a four Oh, and I had some C’s and I had to retake some classes. But when you get me in person, I can tell you and and why you happen to have an interview process and and I was able to shine in that way. And I think that speaks volumes. I hope that maybe other schools can adopt that because sometimes our paper with we don’t, you know, I mean like but that doesn’t have anything to do with, you know, how compassionate we are or how smart we are what will be Be like as, as a physical therapist, especially based oh my god, we had the GRE, I



didn’t do the grade on that either. It’s interesting, you’re saying that because everything on paper only shows part of the picture. So when the schools are making it like that, and they’re just looking at paper, I mean, right there, we are automatically going to be leaving a lot of people out, because our school systems are not equal. Yeah, what people are learning are not equal. So if you’re just going off of what they happen to be born into, we’re really cutting people off. We’re really, really cutting people off from opportunity, and therefore, just continuing the cycle of a lot of whiteness in our field.



And something that I saw that I think would be also be great, like, okay, let’s say we don’t have time for the interview process, some of the HBCUs. Or if you don’t know, historically black colleges and universities, they did like a video, like you had to send in a video and answer a prompt. And that way you get you get to show yourself. And I thought, you know, that was that was great. You know, I mean, it’s something that could also be adopted by other schools. To give us a chance, you



know, I mean, absolutely, I think I think that that’s a great idea as a way to be the change be the change. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this where it’s, you know, God, it’s a very I don’t like this rhetoric, but it’s the one where people are saying, not everyone, but people are saying, Oh, well, now people are just getting in because they’re black. Can you share some thoughts to that? Because for so you know, I have an angry look on my face and Sherelle rolled her eyes. We’re not shy about that. All right, would you mind response to that? Because, I mean, it angers me, but let’s talk about this.



And on that note, we’re gonna take a very quick break to hear from our sponsor, and be right back with Shirelles response. When it comes to boosting your clinics, online visibility, reputation and increasing referrals, net Health’s Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition. They know you want your clinic to get found get chosen, and definitely get those five star reviews on Google. Net Health is a fun new offer. If you sign up and complete a marketing audit to learn how digital marketing solutions can help your clinic when they will buy lunch for your office. If you’re already using Net Health private practice EMR, be sure to ask about its new integration, head over to net forward slash li tz y to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit.



Wow, I’ve also never discussed this. I mean, if I was just to like speak, honestly,



yes, please.



White people get things because they’re white all the time. Like not based on merit, not based on skill based on who they know. Or a back door. You know what I mean? And I as



a person who has benefited in that way, I can absolutely agree. It’s Yes, yes. It’s true. It’s legit happened to me. I like I’m grateful. That’s amazing. But like, also, that’s so true.



And, and we’re like we said this, the schools are not always even, we don’t always have, you know, these connections. But a lot of times when you give us a chance, we go above and beyond, because we’re like, hey, my ancestors didn’t die for this. So I mean, like, and we deserve the chance, I just think we deserve the chance. The playing field is not going to even and this is our opportunity to try and be able to own probably, I think it kind of goes deeper than just Oh, black you let Black people in. But for so long. We couldn’t get education. You know, we were enslaved. We built this. We literally built the US, you know, we couldn’t own property. So now it’s like, Hey, we’re trying to get in these professions, so that we can make something of ourselves we can start building generational wealth. Like for me right now. I am like the person. I am the person right now and 2021 that is trying to start building generational wealth for my family, but why people have had this opportunity to do this and save and know about mutual fund all these different things and I’m just now learning and having the opportunity to get to you’ve been able To do that,



oh, for a very long time, and for anybody who says, Oh, the history that you’re mentioning, I’m just acknowledging this history that you’re mentioning from a bit ago that how black people came into, it’s still not 100% there for basic rights for black people, they don’t have access to the education that I got, you know, in this, I grew up in California, in a small town, California, if you don’t know, if you buy a shed of your own, it can be worth a million cost a million dollars. It’s ridiculous. It’s a running joke. California is not it’s just a well off area to be living, and which is unfortunate. And from that, we are lacking diversity in our areas, and they are people are not getting getting that access. I also feel like that there’s an assumption when people are saying, Oh, now black people are getting in just because they’re being black. What if? Let’s say this black person, maybe it’s just one? Oh, you know, come on, like, you know that Gatson is extremely intelligent and more intelligent than you and has had to put a lot more work in to get into prove themselves just to get in? And you actually don’t belong? What if? What about what that? What about that? What about that consideration that there could actually be a lot of people of color, who are more intelligent than a lot of people who’ve been regularly led into school.



Everything that you just said? That was awesome. Like,



I love that we’re sitting on this for a bit, because getting people into PT school is like the base, you know, how do we reach them? How do we access them and everything. And if then we have people saying it’s because they’re black. They’re people who are black are already dealing with so much this is from what I’ve learned not experienced, obviously, like you’re already dealing with so much discrimination on a regular basis. So to So to finally get that opportunity to come in and then be discriminated against, you’ve worked your tail off more than the average white person is just preposterous, and we need to call ourselves out on it, in order to be the change. Sure, I was just gonna read this smile. She’s



emotional mom, because you know, it’s like, these are the conversations and these are the things that are said within our circles. But then when you have the ally, say, and you see it, and it’s like, oh, it’s just so nice to be seen and heard. Oh, and then somebody gets it.



Oh, my God, I do. I do make mistakes. As I go. I’ve made I’ve made plenty. And I will continue to do stupid things. But I keep learning and making the changes as I go. But I so grateful that you’re on to talk about this. What have you seen, that you think schools are doing that is working to bring in dei and that in schools versus we’re taught we’ve talked a lot about what’s not working? What are the schools doing that is working? And what could we do more of pull it out of your buttons fine. Just like brainstorm like, what are the things?



I mean, like I did say the video. I’m having professors,



oh my god, I had a black professor. That was the most amazing thing I had ever had one. I remember



it was so funny. She came in and I was like, Are you a grad student? And she was like, no, actually, I’m a new professor. I remember Mike, one of my classmates, she walked out. We were like in the computer lab. And she was like, now that I see this woman as my, I know, I can do anything. That’s what she said. Yeah, so having more black African American ever, professors. If if there can be some type of outreach, I know with my class, so my class isn’t good class because I graduated in the middle of a pandemic. So our plan was like, we had many plans and COVID killed the plans. But one of the conversations that I had with a good friend, classmate of mine, she wasn’t black, she was a Puerto Rican. And she was like, Oh, I would love to go out to high schools. Let’s get a group together and go do it. And then COVID happen and killed everything and we couldn’t go anywhere. But I do think in the future. And I know you know, PT school as hard as it is and stressful, but doing some type of outreach in in PT schools and just saying, Hey, this is what you know, get to make it like



a career day kind of thing. When people come and visit and say, Hey, this is a career you can I do think yeah, definitely. Especially in neighborhoods where my dad’s a dentist, okay. I have a family of dentists do Wish total stereotype halacha just brush your teeth, Jenna. So what’s my upbringing? Look, I oh my god,



I missed you.



The the, but because I had, I grew up with that with people living these amazing careers, I didn’t need somebody to come visit because I was surrounded by their neighbors doing a chiropractor friend, one of my best friends her dad was a chiropractor. This was just commonplace. Just in my world. People don’t have that. So, uh, yeah, I can even see more. Having people in the profession, someone like my dad even coming and saying, Hey, this is something you could do is great. I think that’s, I think that’s a really great idea, just literally coming to the schools coming to them. And people don’t like if you sit there and just do a social media post and be like, here come to us. Like, it doesn’t work that way. Nobody, including any listener, or Sherelle, or myself, we’d like people to just come to us, as we’re living our lives.



This is something I just thought about. I don’t even know if it could actually happen. Ooh. Like, can we have like a work study? or some type of like, even be volunteer like work study. And like a student? A student runs an Instagram and it’s specific for that school. And it’s specifically for, like, adding teens or, you know, people of color and and making content that’s relatable. Yeah. So that it’s, you know, a track. It’s attractive, so people learn more you know about it. I think social media is just such, it’s just a force right now.



It really is it really,



I don’t know what that really looks like. But, you know, yeah. But in talking about, you know, I don’t know it just in a creative way.



No, I get what you’re saying. I just, I just recently had a big screening with a ballet company. And I contact a local school and had PT students come volunteer and take measurements and everything was awesome for them to get to experience that would have killed for something like that as a student, but things like that, that other businesses are doing schools are doing, they can have events of some kind to bring that in that that could be I don’t know what but because we’re like in the like, no mode. But I love that. I love that. Let’s let this lay as like the EU, we just let this kind of drop as a potential idea. I have only a few more minutes left with you. I would love to two more things. What have you personally been doing to help bring more dei into the profession?



I don’t know that I necessarily have because I was so engulfed in school by having this conversation. Literally while you were saying that I was like, Oh, I have some ideas. Like I want to start doing this. But I definitely you know, I speak within my family on my social media. You know, I I talk about, hey, let’s be more active, I do a lot around how we can move instead of having to go to the MD The MD is going to tell me to take a pill and then sit you don’t have bed rest. But I definitely can do more. I can call myself out about that. You know, when I’m back up, you know, hey, I’m going to be very intentful about a purposeful about doing this. I’m excited actually, unfortunately, I passed my boards. I I kind of had this injury and then I wasn’t able to do everything that I wanted. So when I’m back up and I’m full, I’m like, Ah, let’s go. Let’s add this to the list. I’m happy that you asked me that question, which made me get you know, the juices going and Right,



right. Uh, yeah, I love it. I love it. I give complete credit to Lisa van who’s for that question. She said ask this question. I said okay, okay. Where can people we are now coming down to an end. Where can people find you? Sherelle on social media. They can follow you connect. Where can they find you?



You can find me on Instagram at Lego fitness. I believe Oh, well. I do search my name on Facebook, which is Sherwin Williams. Those are the two places that I live right now. At my website is you know is what is it like up If you want to see a little bit more about me there.



And then if anybody might want to email you some people do prefer the email



Oh yes, my email is right now is just Sherelle



I love it. Wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on. You are a force. I frickin love you.



Thank you for having me. This is so amazing.



A big thank you to Jenna and Ciara for a great interview on D AI initiatives in the world of physical therapy and of course a big thanks to Net Health. So again when it comes to boosting your online visibility, reputation and referrals, net Health’s Digital Marketing Solutions has the tools you need to beat the competition they know you want your clinic to get found, get chosen and get those five star reviews. They have a fun new offer if you sign up and complete a marketing audit, so they can help your clinic when they’ll buy lunch for your office. Head over to net forward slash li T zy to sign up for your complimentary marketing audit today.



Thank you for listening and please subscribe to the podcast at podcast dot healthy wealthy And don’t forget to follow us on social media

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©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.
©2019 Karen Litzy Physical Therapy PLLC.