LGBTQ+ Visibility and Acceptance In the Gym with Personal Trainer Naomi Brubaker

lgbt personal trainer in colorado
Photo Credit: Adri Guyer

Stepping into a gym for the first time is often an intimidating experience. This is even more accurate for those within the LGBTQ+ community. Not all instructors are prepared to meet the needs of clients that don't fit the mold of what they're used to. The assumption tends to be that women are at the gym to lose weight and men are there to bulk up. That isn't always the case and not all people fit into these two boxes.

Naomi Brubaker is a certified personal trainer in Colorado Springs, CO. Here's what she had to say about the common fitness experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and where we can do better.

SO: Tell me about your experience as a personal trainer within the LGBTQ+ community.

NB: I am still relatively new to the industry. My experience has been an overall positive one – but not without its challenges. I am thankful that the first gym that I apprenticed with was dedicated to being inclusive, but I also saw the challenges with attempting to break the hyper-masculine stereotype of an exclusive private gym environment. The gym I work at now has been very inclusive with their hiring, which I appreciate. I do, however, get a lot of stares and some silently judge and doubt my abilities. It can be tiring to constantly feel like I need to prove myself. The fitness space is an ever-evolving space.

SO: I imagine anyone who grew up being a little bit different from the norm has a complicated relationship with fitness. Would you agree?

NB: I definitely agree with this. I was a “late bloomer” when it came to my personal coming out process and I have always been fairly active since I was a kid. Being a Cis-woman and a lesbian, it can be a double whammy when it comes to facing harassment and unwanted attention in the gym. It took me several years to be comfortable in the space and often times I still feel some discomfort, but I can generally look past it and focus on what I need to be doing.

SO: The gym can be a very vulnerable place, especially for those who have trouble loving their bodies. Do you have any advice for those who struggle with fitness for this reason?

NB: Making any kind of change to your routine and deciding to embark on a fitness journey can be an incredibly emotional and frustrating experience. I like to remind my clients that fitness can be a healthy part of a self-love practice without it becoming obsessive or self-destructive. I also like to remind my clients to focus on what they can do rather than aesthetic goals, even if aesthetics happens to be an overall goal.

Seeing someone that could barely do a single push-up knock out five to ten with ease after a few weeks of training or hearing from someone that their favorite outfit fits better than they ever could have imagined does wonders to confidence-building. Fitness and self-love is a process. I encourage anyone to love and trust that process.

SO: Is there a lack of inclusive safe spaces for those in the LGBTQ+ community to practice fitness?

NB: There really is. I cannot think of a single facility that caters directly to those in the LGBTQ+ community. There are many advocates but the trust that those that patron these facilities may not hold the same ideals as the ownership, training staff, or management. Trust and safety are huge factors. There is also not a ton of research available with working with transgender folk in the space, which leaves trainers questioning how to best train those in that population. This is something I am looking into personally as more research becomes available on how hormone treatments affect the body.

SO: What do yo