As a woman of color, I understand what it means to feel different and othered. I can think back on many instances where people weren’t welcoming. Several times, when I’ve been followed around a grocery or clothing store because of the color of my skin or curl pattern of my hair. I’ve been asked if I can afford something because of the color of my skin. I’ve been called names because of the color of my skin. I’ve been harassed and felt unsafe because of the curves in my body. All horrific instances, but unfortunately, I’m not the first or last POC to have these experiences.
Due to society and the way this country was brought up, white people often dominate over other ethnicities and cultural groups. POCs feel this daily, and there is another group that constantly feels othered too: The LGBTQ+ community. Not just in corporate settings and daily life, but in the gym too. This is exactly why trainer Nathalie Huerta started The Queer Gym in Oakland, California in 2010.
The Queer Gym, originally called The Perfect Sidekick, has group training and one-on-one coaching for fitness and nutrition. Inspired by Huerta’s own experience of feeling unwelcome, unsettled, and unsafe, the expert advertises herself as a lesbian trainer to attract queer clients and let them feel comfortable in an environment that is traditionally intimidating or intimate for LGBTQ+.
“For queer folks, our bodies are constantly under attack, and the gym shouldn’t be another place where we’re told something is wrong with our bodies,” she said in a recent interview. “I knew I needed to open my own gym because renting space in regular gyms wasn’t going to work for me or my clients because traditional gyms aren’t typically very affirming for members of the queer community,” Huerta continued.
“In a regular gym space, we would have to worry about microaggressions, the potential threat of physical or sexual violence — all the things that queer folks have to worry about. I created a space so that folks like myself could feel comfortable accessing fitness and wellness, while also feeling a sense of community.”
Huerta has been able to cultivate this welcoming space with 6 simple rules: no homophobia, no transphobia, no fatphobia, no xenophobia, no mansplaining, and no gym creepers. Huerta believes that queer bodies are constantly under attack, and that the gym should not be another place that says something is wrong with queer bodies.
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Photo via The Queer Gym