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Is Your Fitness Space Queer Friendly?

I am a 36 year old queer cisgender woman who found fitness much later in life than most people. I started running and yoga in my late 20’s while I lived in Dubai but the magic happened when I found CrossFit at the tender age of 30. It changed everything and so began my obsession with strength training, especially for cisgender women and the queer community. Why? Because it is the BEST medicine for mental health, physical health, bone and joint health and overall longevity. And yet, gyms can feel very intimidating for many people in our community. I was lucky to find a CrossFit gym that was incredibly inclusive and accepting and fostered a real sense of safety and I truly believe every queer person should feel the same when starting or expanding their fitness journey. So I made a list, for all fitness spaces and business owners, to help create a safe and welcoming space for your queer clients.

Education and Training

To build an inclusive space, it’s essential for gym owners, staff, and trainers to undergo training on LGBTQ+ issues and terminology. Educating your team about diverse gender identities, pronouns, and appropriate language will help them create a supportive environment. Consider partnering with LGBTQ+ organizations or consultants who can provide insights and guidance tailored to your specific fitness business. For a great FREE online resource, check out 

Inclusive Policies

Develop and implement policies that explicitly state your commitment to inclusivity and non-discrimination. Ensure that your policies address discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Make these policies readily available and visible to all members, staff, and guests. Actively enforce them to ensure a safe and respectful environment for everyone.

Gender-Neutral Facilities

Provide gender-neutral or inclusive facilities whenever possible. This can include changing rooms, restrooms, and shower areas. Offering private or individual spaces that are welcoming to all genders can help create a more comfortable experience for queer individuals who may not conform to traditional gender norms. 

Staff Diversity and Representation

Strive to have a diverse staff that reflects the community you serve, including members of the LGBTQ+ community. When individuals see themselves represented, it creates a sense of belonging and acceptance. Additionally, having LGBTQ+-identifying trainers and staff can help create an environment where queer individuals feel more comfortable discussing their fitness goals and needs.

Language and Communication

Create an environment where inclusive language is the norm. Train staff members to use gender-neutral terms and inclusive greetings, avoiding assumptions about individuals’ identities. Encourage trainers and staff to ask for individuals’ preferred pronouns when appropriate, and model this behavior in your communication materials and signage.

Inclusive Programming

Offer a diverse range of fitness classes and programs that cater to different interests and abilities. Ensure that your offerings are inclusive and welcoming to all individuals, regardless of their fitness level, body type, or gender identity. Consider incorporating specific LGBTQ+-focused classes or events that celebrate queer culture and provide a safe space for community building.

Sensitivity to Privacy and Safety

Be mindful of the potential privacy concerns that LGBTQ+ individuals may have. Respect the privacy of all members, and avoid making assumptions about their identities or outing them without their consent. Encourage open communication and provide a process for members to share their concerns or feedback privately and confidentially.

By intentionally creating a queer-inclusive gym or fitness retreat, you can foster an environment that celebrates diversity and empowers individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Embracing inclusivity not only benefits the LGBTQ+ community but also creates a more enriching and supportive experience for all members. Remember, building an inclusive space requires ongoing commitment, education, and active engagement with the LGBTQ+ community. A little pride goes a long way to keep that rainbow flag flying high all year round and your LGBTQ+ clients will flourish.