While working as a personal trainer for a national gym chain, Lara American was expected to conduct fitness assessments for all new members. Goal: Use information about strength, endurance, and flexibility and compare averages of results for others of the same age and gender to establish a baseline fitness level.
“Everyone has a unique level of fitness and everyone needs a different level of programming,” explains American. “I’ll remove them and there will always be pushbacks from the gym.”
Fitness assessments were one of the “problem rules” for an American, a trans woman who uses her / her pronouns, experienced in mainstream gym culture. They also felt that the emphasis on achieving performance, appearance, and gender-based physical norms was particularly detrimental to LGBTQIA + members — and even hindered some in the community from joining the gym.
“Mainstream fitness can be quite toxic,” America adds. “It’s not a fun place to be in a gym where everything is about hating and abhorring your body.”
More than one-third of LGBTQ + Americans have experienced some form of discrimination in the past year and have often reported aspects of their personal life changes to avoid experiencing discrimination. A separate study found that half of LGBTQ participants felt uncomfortable in the gym as a direct result of their sexual orientation.
Some gym and fitness brands host special programming in June in honor of Pride Month. Nevertheless, a growing number of fitness facilities are using gender-neutral language, asking clients about their pronouns and promising inclusive classes and safe places throughout the year. Some gyms even meet exclusively for LGBTQIA + members.
Oakland-based The Quir Jim, which calls itself “Americas 1”St. Quir Jim, “Opened in 2010. New York’s Mark Fisher Fitness and Los Angeles Everybody’s Inclusive Space promises a variety of trainers, physical positivity and gender-neutral locker rooms. Helps to find space.
“LGBT people need a place … to stay away from toxic gym culture,” America said. “You’ve reached a point where you can’t do it anymore and you’re working from home [and] There are many people [who] Want to get away from it. There is a demand for these inclusive spaces. “
Creating an inclusive workout space is more than just increasing membership; This is a commitment to prioritize the health and well-being of the LGBTQIA + community.
Studies show that those identified as LGBTQIA + were 76 percent less likely to participate in group activities and reported less than 2.62 hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week compared to their heterosexual peers. Lesbians and bisexual women are more likely to be overweight and obese than straight women.
Exercise is not only important for physical health. It is also an essential component of mental health. It has been shown to ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which the LGBTQIA + community experiences 2.5 times more often than their straight or gender-matched peers.
While classes such as Mr. Broadway Body, Hard Core Homo, and Bicep-Towels target isolated communities, Americans believe there are subtle hints that welcome different members of the gym.
Tiny Gym, a small fitness studio in the West Village neighborhood of New York that America founded in 2021, was designed as a safe place “away from toxic gym culture” to welcome LGBTQIA + members and associates. Americo was intentional about marketing, using terms like “body positive” and “performance oriented” and including their pronouns in the flyer.
“These things only attract strange people because they are things that many in the community prefer,” they say. “I present everything in such a way that it’s weird that a weird person doesn’t want to go to the gym.”
In addition to providing a helpful, safe place to work, LGBTQIA + fitness spaces are also about giving up sex rules and expectations and finding pleasure in moving your body.
“The main rule in a small gym is that it has to be fun,” America says. “My goal is to subtly, in a small way, change the narrative of fitness.”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as an alternative to medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat your health problems or conditions. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.