Pop-up LGBT gym offers alternative to ‘toxic, hyper masculine’ gym culture

A gym near Boston is offering a pop-up session catering exclusively to the LGBT+ community, who often don’t feel comfortable exercising in regular gyms.

CORE gym in Brookline offers specific Queer Gym sessions with the aim of empowering its clients physically and mentally. It’s one of several LGBT+ workout spaces that’s opened in recent years.

One of Queer Gym’s physical trainers, Justice Williams, told NPR: “[Gyms] are hyper-masculine, they’re toxic, they’re about an aesthetic. Being part of the LGBT community, I’ve observed and noticed that people don’t feel comfortable in gyms today.”

He explained that, while gyms are an awkward experience for many people, that experience is amplified when your body or mannerisms don’t conform to people’s interpretation of how you should be. And trans people can feel particularly vulnerable.

Morris, a non-binary trans person, joined Queer Gym because people often stare at them in other gyms. “My body looks a little bit different than a lot of the other peoples’ who are in the gym,” they said.


“When you’re working out, you just want to focus on your workout. But when you know that other people are staring at you and then sometimes talking about you, it can be distracting.

“It can be demoralising, you know, when you’re supposed to be pumping yourself up in the gym.”

Eddie Maisonet, who is also trans, came to Queer Gym sessions after he noticed people staring at the scars from his top surgery.

“Here, we’re looking at each other, but we’re so supportive,” he said. “It’s people trying to take pointers or make sure you’re not hurting yourself as opposed to feeling like a spectacle.”

Williams says the ultimate goal is to arm LGBT+ people with the confidence to navigate all gyms, but until then he’ll be running Queer Gym around for as long as necessary.

Some gyms are offering self-defence classes specific to LGBT+ people as the rate of hate crimes continues to rise.

Martial arts like Krav Maga and jiu-jitsu are reportedly being tailored to members of the LGBT+ community, who face a heightened risk of physical attacks out in public.