Community, Events, and PartnershipsSocial ResponsibilityThought Leadership How to Build an LGBTQ-Friendly Gym 

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Here at ABC Trainerize, we began with a dream of a world where fitness is accessible to everyone. As we keep chipping away at this vision, we’d like to take time to acknowledge Pride month. June holds significant importance in the fitness industry for several reasons, emphasizing inclusivity, visibility, and support for the LGBTQ community. And although we celebrate Pride in June, inclusivity is relevant in your business every month of the year.

Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment in fitness spaces is essential for fostering a sense of community and support for all members. This is particularly important for LGBTQ individuals, who often face unique challenges and discrimination in various settings, including gyms.  

In the hope that you too will join us on our journey of making fitness accessible to everyone, we chatted with The OUT Foundation to put together this guide on how to build an LGBTQ-friendly gym that promotes equality, safety, and acceptance for everyone. 

Understand the Importance of Inclusivity 

First things first, it’s important to take time to reflect on why this matters.  

Before taking any steps to create an LGBTQ-friendly gym, it’s crucial to understand why inclusivity matters.  

Inclusive gyms: 

  • Promote mental and physical well-being 
  • Increase member satisfaction 
  • Enhance the gym’s reputation and reach 

Train Staff on LGBTQ Sensitivity and Awareness 

Educating your staff is the cornerstone of an inclusive environment.  

Training should cover: 

  • Recognizing and addressing microaggressions and discrimination 
  • Creating a safe space for all members 
  • Handling complaints related to discrimination sensitively and effectively 

Our friends at The OUT Foundation run programs designed for those seeking to create a welcoming and inclusive fitness environment for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Implement Non-Discrimination Policies 

A clear non-discrimination policy should be in place, explicitly protecting members from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

Make this policy visible on your website, in your gym, and in membership agreements. 

Have clear procedures in place for addressing bullying and harassment. Ensure that all members know how to report incidents and that these reports are taken seriously and handled promptly. 

Use Inclusive Language and Imagery 

The language and imagery you use in marketing materials, signage, and communications should reflect and respect diversity.  

This includes: 

  • Using gender-neutral language 
  • Featuring diverse individuals and couples in promotional materials 
  • Avoiding stereotypes and assumptions about gender and sexuality 

Create Gender-Neutral Facilities 

Gender-neutral facilities are essential for ensuring the comfort and safety of all members.  

Gyms should consider: 

  • Providing gender-neutral bathrooms and changing rooms 
  • Clearly labeling these facilities to avoid confusion 
  • Ensuring privacy with enclosed stalls and changing areas 

Offer LGBTQ-Specific Programs and Classes 

Offering programs and classes tailored to the LGBTQ community can help foster a sense of belonging.  

Here are some simple ideas a gym can use: 

  • LGBTQ-focused fitness classes or personal training sessions 
  • Support groups or workshops on health and wellness topics 
  • Hosting events during Pride Month and other significant dates 

Work with LGBTQ Organizations 

Partnering and collaborating with local and national LGBTQ organizations can help you stay informed about best practices and provide valuable resources for your members.

They can also help to highlight your policies, training programs, and initiatives. All of this helps identify your gym as LGBTQ-friendly. Being a safe space for everyone enhances your gym’s credibility and reach within the LGBTQ community. 

Promote Your Efforts 

Transparency about your efforts can attract more members and demonstrate your dedication to creating a safe, welcoming space for everyone. 

Communicate your commitment to inclusivity through your website, social media, and within your gym.

Building an LGBTQ-friendly gym requires a comprehensive approach that includes education, policy changes, and cultural shifts.  

By prioritizing inclusivity and taking deliberate steps to support LGBTQ members, you can create a welcoming environment where everyone feels comfortable and valued. This all helps lead to a more vibrant, diverse, and supportive gym community. 

The OUTAIM Program harnesses the collective experience, expertise, and leadership of the OUT Foundation Leadership Team and Ambassadors.

This diverse and experienced team consists of current & former athletes, DEID health & wellness consultants, LGBTQ+ health & wellness professionals, and organizational operators. 

Learn more about the OUTAIM program by scheduling an introductory call here.

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