John's Journey

Why This Gay Guy Loves His Queer Gym

I joined The Queer Gym 7 months ago. I was new to the neighborhood and newly dumped. I was also working a job that I will charitably call stressful. It was not uncommon for me to be stuck at a computer for 12-hour days, fueled only by the company candy drawer and beer fridge.

I was depressed, had no physical energy, and despite being single and hypothetically “ready to mingle,” felt massively insecure about all the extra weight I had gained during the slow death of my 6-year relationship.

the queer gym

Then, as I was riding the bus from my new apartment to my stressful job, I saw a gym with a rainbow flag on the door and rainbow-painted bike racks out front. Sure, my office had a gym, but it was a depressing beige cube filled with my coworkers. And on top of that, I had no idea what exercises were best.

Having trainers tell me what to do while I worked out with other homos didn’t just sound like a more effective workout, it sounded like it might actually be fun. I was right on both counts. Since joining, I’ve lost 40 pounds, 7% body fat, and 6 inches from my waist. But it’s the second part, the fun, that has been most meaningful change for me.

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The truth is, I’ve never really felt good about my body. I was a chubby kid and an overweight, gay teen. I was bullied for both. That bullying made me hate my body and hate the gym. Exercise wasn’t fun. It just meant looking weak and out-of-shape in front of other people followed by anxiously changing in a locker room full of straight dudes who could kick my ass.

Although I eventually shed a lot of the weight, I carried around those attitudes about my body and working out until I ended up at The Queer Gym.

Sure, getting into an exercise routine was hard. I thought my first 15-minute assessment with Nat was going to kill me.

I could do about 3 burpees before collapsing red-faced on the floor.

But my struggle was celebrated! All the trainers respected where I was at in my personal fitness journey and encouraged that I could improve if I kept getting my ass in the gym. So I did, and I found that spirit of encouragement was shared by all the members, too.

I don’t feel self-conscious sweating, straining, and sometimes flaming out (or flaming out) in front of my gym fam. We cheer each other on as we groan our way through that killer last rep, congratulate each other on our progress, and commiserate together as we foam roll whatever is sorest after class. We laugh about how much “that sucked” before saying we’ll see each other at the next class.

While you were sleeping...these #harcorehomos were not!

A video posted by The Perfect Sidekick Queer Gym (@thequeergym) on

This hasn’t just helped me meet my fitness goals, it’s also lead to positive internal changes I wasn’t expecting. I’ve started to internalize the spirit of encouragement I found at The Queer Gym. If I don’t judge the other folks in my class for struggling through new, challenging exercises, why would I judge myself? If they can so enthusiastically cheer on my progress, why can’t I cheer myself on?

I’m very happy with the changes I’m seeing in my body, but I’m happiest in the changes I’m experiencing in my relationship to my body. The more I push my body outside its comfort zone at The Queer Gym, the more comfortable I feel in it.

I’ve learned to love and accept my body—even when it’s sweaty and sore from all the burpees. And I can’t wait to see what my body and I do together at The Queer Gym in the coming months because we’re just getting started!

If you want to start a new relationship with your body, I’m at the gym first thing in the morning 3 days a week and on weekends; and I’m happy to cheer you on, too!