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Working out at a gym can be an uncomfortable experience, particularly if it doesn’t have any anti-discrimination policies in place. However, you shouldn’t have to bear discomfort during your workout. Below is a small guide to gyms that are LGBT-friendly or that do have anti-discrimination policies in place.
The Perfect Sidekick
Founded by a queer mother of two, Nathalie Huerta, The Perfect Sidekick is the only LGBT-specified gym in the country so far. She established it in around 2011 when she moved her personal training to the “women seeking women” section of Craigslist. She says that she did so because she didn’t want to get too competitive with other trainers. She got five clients within her first week and by the end of that year, had enough income to rent a small space.
The Perfect Sidekick has since had to move two more times due to client growth. Its current location is just outside San Francisco. It does not have any mirrors and has only one gender neutral restroom. It does not currently have any treadmills or anything spa-related like a sauna. Huerta says that a safe space to workout without any fear of discrimination remains the top reason for her clients to come to The Perfect Sidekick.
Known for its low prices, Planet Fitness is also known for its diverse inclusion and Judgment Free Zone bylaw. They have zero tolerance for unethical behaviors and believe in being transparent in everything that they do. In fact, they have a suggestion in their policy about asking yourself if you would be okay with having your actions or what you say reported in the news media.
Most importantly, Planet Fitness prides themselves in being an equal opportunity employer. They also explicitly include things like “gender, gender identity, gender expression” and “sexual orientation” in their anti-discrimination policy. They also do not tolerate petty manipulation in any form. Planet Fitness is a place in which both members and staff are expected to simply focus on themselves and their own goals. They do provide an option for story sharing but this is never pushed in any way.
Planet Fitness was founded in 1992 by Michael and Marc Grondahl in 1992 in Dover, New Hampshire. They bought a Gold’s Gym facility that was failing. One of its earliest members was a college student named Chris Rondeau who brought his experience of assisting at his father’s drug store chain to the company. He started out by working at the front desk in 1993 and moved his way up to CEO.
Today, there are more than 1,000 and growing Planet Fitness locations nationwide.
24 Hour Fitness
Like Planet Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness also includes “gender identity, expression, sexual orientation” in their anti-discrimination policy. They also take it a step further and explicitly state that any comments, jokes, or behaviors based on gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation is not tolerated in their facilities. In fact, they even encourage both members and staff to report and suspected harassment.
24 Hour Fitness was founded in 1983 in Carlsbad California. The founder, Mark Mastrov had been using a local gym as a therapy for knee injury. He bought that gym from its previous owner and originally renamed it “24 Hour Nautilius.” Mark Golob and Dean Mahoney shortly used contacts with celebrities, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, to increase memberships and succeeded. Today, there are 400 locations across 13 states.
If you are not sure whether there is a gym that has a non-discrimination policy in your area, you can check with lesbians who tech. It is a community of queer women in tech whose mission is to make themselves more visible to the world. They also work to connect to LGBT organizations doing quality community work.
Some gyms with anti-discrimination policies are growing very rapidly. However, they are just getting started and don’t have visibility everywhere. There also don’t seem to be a lot of LGBT-specific gyms at this time. However, that could easily change in just another few years.