A reader writes: “I am a personal trainer and group exercise instructor in Palm Springs, CA. I may be a bit naive, but I have a feeling that the transgender community may be underserved and unnoticed when it comes to physical fitness and mainstream gyms. As my clientele is varied, my intention is to embrace and share all things fitness and ‘gym life’ and evolve into a better trainer and person in doing so.
“Can you suggest effective methods to reach out to the transgender community, while also being sensitive and respecting privacy and security issues. I have a lot to learn and am eager and ready to do so! Thank you for any help you may offer.”
When I first began my transition, my therapist told me to spend time in “men’s spaces,” including men’s locker rooms. At the time, I was very uncomfortable with this notion, and I didn’t do it. Maybe I was insecure about my body compared to the other guys’ bodies that I would see there, maybe I was nervous about communal shower space, or maybe it was just an excuse for not working out, but somehow I felt like I wouldn’t “belong” there.
As I got older, going to the gym seems less and less appealing, even though I would probably feel fine in the locker room, but I know that there are tons of trans people who go to gyms and work out (which is why they look great and I can’t fill out a T-shirt). And I think that many trans people who are looking for a gym or a trainer would probably welcome the opportunity to work out with a trainer who welcomes them.
In my opinion, and I’m sure readers will have others, you should market to trans people by advertising “a gym for all” or “services for all.” You can have a flyer or ad that says “Diversity is my specialty” or “Everyone welcome – no exceptions” or “Safe space for all.” Sometimes an added rainbow background or rainbow motif of some kind will signal to trans people that they are welcome, and sometimes it won’t make a difference, because not all trans people identify with the rainbow flag or with the LGBT community. (more…)