7 Queer-Friendly Gyms & Workouts To Check Out In NYC
June 13, 2019
Written by Cory Stieg
Gyms don't exactly have the best reputation as welcoming, inclusive spaces. Whether you're a person with a larger body, or someone in the LGBTQ+ community, it can often feel like if you don't fit the Instagram fitness influencer or bodybuilder mold, there's no room for you. On top of that, the fitness industry has historically operated under the assumption that everyone wants their bodies to look a certain way — usually, a way that's very in line with gender binaries.
Luckily, as our understanding of health, fitness, and gender identity and expression evolves, more gyms and fitness spaces are creating programs and spaces for these underrepresented populations. But being an inclusive, LGBTQ+ friendly gym requires more than just hanging a rainbow flag on the wall (although, that's certainly not a bad idea).
Ahead, we've found a handful of the gyms, workout classes, and fitness spaces in New York City that celebrate all kinds of gender expressions and sexual identities.
The workout: At Third Root, they offer yoga classes as well as acupuncture, massage, and herbal wellness services. In addition to restorative and chair yoga classes, you'll find special programming — such as Yoga for Abundant Bodies, Yoga for Folks of Color, Yoga for Survivors, and Queer & Trans Yoga — on their weekly schedule.
The vibe: Expect a warm welcome, complete with a cup of herbal tea in the lobby. Arrive early so you can complete paper work and take a breath before your service or class begins.
Pride perks: Every Sunday night, they host a group meditation led by and for queer and trans people of color. Amid all the Pride month festivities on your calendar, this could be exactly what you need to find some stillness and feel refreshed.
380 Marlborough Rd, Brooklyn NY 11226
The workout: MNSTR is a 45-minute rhythm-based cycling workout that utilizes music videos. Unlike other cycling workouts that focus on numbers and scores, riders at MNSTR use a personal scale of effort to determine how hard or fast to pedal.
The vibe: MNSTR's programming caters to a wide variety of riders, and they offer a lot of themed rides that are specifically for more alternative cultures (like Metal Mondays as well as an Emo Night). This allows their community to be super diverse and welcoming to those who might not feel they fit in with the cookie-cutter boutique fitness demo.
Pride perks: MNSTR Cycle has all kinds of themed Pride Rides planned, from Cher to Drag Race to hip-hop pride. Keep an eye out for their regular Gay Bash ride, where they donate proceeds to a different LGBTQ+ focused charity each month.
47 W 20th Street, New York, NY 10011; 182 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013
The workout: The OUT Foundation hosts regular Crossfit workout events to raise money for their OUTAthlete Scholarship program, which awards scholarships to LGBTQ+ young adults to fund a year-long gym membership. OUTWOD closely with the host gym to develop a WOD (Crossfit speak for "Workout of the Day"). If you're not familiar with WODs, you can expect an intense interval fitness experience that provides an immersive, high-intensity, and effective workout.
The vibe: Throw your perception of Crossfit out the window. All OUTWOD workouts take place in a high-energy and encouraging environment, with motivating music and inspiring instructors. OUTWOD is open to all levels of athlete from novice to professional, so don't be intimidated.
Pride perks: Check out the OUTWOD calendar for a full list of events around the country. Luckily, they happen all year round.
The workout: You can either sign up for a group class membership, or opt for semi-private training. Expect general conditioning and strength-building workouts that focus on safety and keeping your joints healthy.
The vibe: Mark Fisher Fitness is known for being a very vibrant, colorful space with friendly people who are genuinely excited that you're there. "We pull out every stop to make you feel comfortable, welcome, and at ease," Mark Fisher tells Refinery29.
Pride perks: There are two sessions of a four-week Ninja Summer Camp this summer, if you're looking for a more intensive program.
411 W. 39th St, New York NY 10018; 161 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
The workout: Chelsea Piers has everything from studio classes to beach volleyball, rock climbing, turf and cardio space, weight lifting, and more. If you're looking to step out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and try new workouts, consider joining Chelsea Piers.
The vibe: Honestly, you could hang at Chelsea Piers all day if you have the time. There's brand new locker rooms (with saunas and steam), plus two sundecks that overlook the river and are perfect for lounging or reflecting.
Pride perks: The week of June 24, Chelsea Piers will be hosting a number of themed classes for WorldPride, including Pride Pump, a dance cardio class, and Pride Ride, which is indoor cycling.
60 Chelsea Piers, New York, NY 10011
The workout: 305 is not a dance class, it’s a dance party. You’ll want to show up 15 minutes before class to get situated (and snap a pre-class selfie). They recommend newbies stand toward the middle of the second row, so you can see the instructor from all angles. Follow along with the instructor's dance cardio choreography. When you hear a "WOOP WOOP," that's your signal that the moves are going to change.
The vibe: This studio is a loud, rebellious, and welcoming space for all shapes, sizes, colors, gender identities, and fitness levels. "You’re always welcome to modify to your fitness level, grab water at any time, and take breaks whenever you need to," says Sadie Kurzban, founder and CEO of 305 Fitness. "Listen to your bod."
Pride perks: 305 will host Pride-themed classes in NYC and LA this month to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. "We'll have a drag queen host in each city and surprises in every class," Kurzban says. Can't make it? They also have an awesome YouTube channel where they're featuring at-home workouts you can take with you wherever you're traveling this summer.
18 W 8th St, New York, NY 10011; 33 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016; 1440 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10028; 205 West 58th Street
The workout: While Equinox is on the pricey side, a membership offers to a range of group fitness classes, incredibly nice equipment, personal training, and a spa.
The vibe: Think luxurious like a spa, but energetic like a gym — and that's basically what you can expect from this Equinox location. But despite the upscale amenities, Equinox is very welcoming of a diverse community of what they call "high-performing individuals."
Pride perks: This year for WorldPride in New York City, Equinox partnered with the organization House Lives Matter. For every post on Instagram tagged #PoweredByPride or "Life’s a Ball" GIPHY sticker used during the month of June, Equinox plans to donate $1 to House Lives Matter.
97 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014
The workout: Come for a 50-minute sweat session that's anchored in dance and music. Basically, it's like athletic conditioning combined with the feeling of your best night out. You really, truly don't need any dance experience to try a class.
The vibe: Forward Space describes itself as an immersive "sanctuary-meets-club environment." There are dope black lights and a stage platform where the instructor stands.
Pride perks: In honor of WorldPride, Forward Space plans to donate 20% of all sales from select t-shirts available in-studio, and all the proceeds from the class on June 29 at 12:35pm to the Trans Women of Color Collective.
24 Spring St, New York, NY 10012