It’s one of the most common questions we receive: “How do I start my fitness journey? What do I do?”
No matter who you are, it’s understandable to feel a little lost or unsure where to begin and how to stick with it once you start. As trans folks, we also know that our personal relationships with our bodies can be very complex! But what’s great about getting into fitness is that, for many trans people, it’s a means to connect more with your body, shape yourself into who you are, and even fight off dysphoria! (Really, the benefits of exercise are endless.)
Your fitness goals, where you live, etc. can affect a lot of the details, like questions you may have about actual exercise or nutrition plans, but the answer on how to start really boils down to these 4 key tips.
1. Join an LGBT/queer friendly gym or group if you can.
More and more, we’re seeing headlines about LGBT or trans gyms and training groups springing up around the world. It’s incredible, and while these programs aren’t exactly widespread, it’s definitely becoming more common! If you’re able to pay a monthly fee, see if there’s a gym located near you that promotes itself as being trans affirming, or call your nearest LGBT center and ask if they can recommend a good gym — you never know!
- City Gym in Kansas City, MO — you might recognize this from Google’s incredibly powerful ad last year
- The Perfect Sidekick in Oakland, CA
- Planet Fitness — the company prides itself on its all-inclusive business model and made headlines last year when they stood up for a trans woman at their gym
- Fitness activities through community centers or other groups — there’s LGBT and trans groups for everything, from yoga to wilderness hiking. And if there’s nothing that interests you where you live, consider starting your own group.
2. Get active online in a trans fitness group.
There are tons of online forums and communities for every type of fitness, but we think talking with other trans folks about your goals, successes, questions, and fears is an experience like no other. Take advice and learn from other trans people in your shoes, or folks who have asked the same questions you have now! Point Five Athletics is one such place — it is a closed group with 1,200 members and tons of supportive daily activity to keep you feeling connected and supported. All people and all fitness levels welcome! (Plus, if you’re looking for some great new gym gear, we’ve got you covered with our new athletic line!)
3. Make your actual workout as comfortable and safe as possible.
Many of us can feel self-conscious or even afraid of going to the gym or exercising in public. It’s okay and it’s normal. But remember that you’re showing tons of courage to chase your goals and get active! That might mean dressing in clothes that make you feel confident while affirming your gender identity, it might mean making sure you do not bind your chest when working out — you know what you need to do to feel great and crush that workout. 🙂
Check out our handy guide, Transgender at the Gym, with tons of advice, including tips on choosing a locker room, changing and showering, and more.
4. Stay inspired by fellow trans athletes.
We find that one of the best ways to stay motivated with fitness is to draw inspiration from the work members of our community are putting in! There are so many inspiring trans and queer athletes to follow today. Here are just a few:
Chris Mosier – Chris Mosier (pictured here!) is the first known out transgender athlete to make a U.S. national team. In 2015, Mosier earned a spot on the Team USA sprint duathlon men’s team for the 2016 World Championship, making him the first known out trans athlete to join a U.S. national team that matched his gender identity, rather than the gender assigned him at birth. He’s also the founder of TransAthlete.com.
Fallon Fox – She is an American mixed martial artist (MMA) and is the first openly transgender athlete in the sport’s history.
Shawn Stinson – Shawn Stinson (pictured here!) is a trans man who competes in the world’s only transgender bodybuilding competition, FTM Fit Con. He’s won both years the annual competition has taken place. You can check out his Instagram for info on his personal training services, too.
And if the sports accomplishments of high-profile professional trans athletes themselves aren’t enough, it’s incredible to see the work some individuals are putting into reforming the fitness world, like athletes who vocally push for trans equality as well as non-binary activists trying to remove gender from athletics.
Bonus tip: Make healthier living a regular part of your daily routine.
At the end of the day, the best tip is to treat fitness as a series of small changes to your daily life, not big high-pressure “events” like a crash diet or insane workout plan. Come up with a list of small achievable goals you can reach every day, month, and year: maybe it’s going to the gym 3x a week, or maybe it’s reaching a certain weight. Grab a calendar and mark your progress. Over time, you’ll get there — we believe in you!