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The Importance of LGBTQ-Friendly Fitness Environments

The Importance of LGBTQ-Friendly Fitness Environments

Matt Smith |

The LGBTQ community unfortunately faces a disproportionate burden of mental health issues, as evidenced by statistics showing high rates of depression and suicidal ideation among LGBTQ individuals. James Kearslake, the founder of LGBTQ Wellness, recognises the urgent need for safe spaces where LGBTQ individuals can use fitness as a means to cope with mental health challenges.


What is LGBTQ Wellness?


LGBTQ Wellness was established with the mission of saving lives within the LGBTQ community. The organisation offers exercise classes and freely accessible resources on their website, aiming to assist LGBTQ individuals in navigating wellness and mental health, particularly through fitness.


According to James, LGBTQ Wellness doesn't provide therapy or medication but focuses on fostering purpose and safety for individuals outside of traditional mental health avenues. Their aim is to create environments where individuals feel secure, allowing them to participate in activities like yoga and spin classes, even if they're struggling with their mental health.


Recognising Mental Health in the LGBTQ Community


James candidly discusses the challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals, emphasising the deep-rooted belief within the community that they are different or not "normal." These societal pressures can contribute to issues like substance abuse and ultimately to mental health struggles and even suicidal thoughts.


However, James is committed to changing this narrative by promoting healthy relationships within the LGBTQ culture and offering support through LGBTQ Wellness.


How Can Fitness Help?


James believes that fitness can play a crucial role in improving mental health and overall wellness in the LGBTQ community. Through fitness, individuals can connect with others in safe and inclusive environments, laying the foundation for further mental health support and self-care practices.


LGBTQ Wellness offers a variety of classes, from spin to yoga, to cater to different preferences and needs. James believes that these classes serve as entry points for individuals to explore other aspects of wellness beyond physical fitness.


The Importance of Designated Gym Spaces


Navigating fitness spaces can be challenging for LGBTQ individuals due to societal pressures and inadequate facilities. James stresses the importance of creating inclusive gym environments where LGBTQ individuals feel welcomed and supported.


By partnering with organisations like LGBTQ Wellness, gyms can take meaningful steps towards inclusivity, offering specialised classes and addressing the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ individuals.


Yoga with LGBTQ Wellness


Attending a yoga class at LGBTQ Wellness provided insight into the supportive environment created by James and his team. The class emphasised inclusivity and provided a judgment-free space for participants to practice yoga and meditation.


James emphasises the effectiveness of safe spaces, citing positive feedback and grateful messages from attendees as evidence of their impact on the community.


If You Need Support...


James reassures individuals facing barriers to fitness and wellness that there's always a path forward. Despite challenges related to sexual or gender identity, there are opportunities to engage in fitness and find support.


Take Home Message


Fitness serves as a powerful tool for LGBTQ individuals grappling with mental health issues, offering opportunities for self-expression, community building, and personal growth. Through initiatives like LGBTQ Wellness, individuals can access resources and support to prioritise their mental and physical well-being.