The OUT Foundation Works To Make Fitness Inclusive for LGBTQ+ Members 

Created in 2011 in New York City, The OUT Foundation has grown into a nationally recognized organization dedicated to breaking down the barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals often face in traditional fitness spaces

The OUT Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing inclusivity in fitness for the LGBTQ+ community, is leading efforts to ensure that fitness environments across the nation are inclusive and welcoming.

Central to their mission is breaking down barriers to access and participation in fitness, health and wellness through a suite of interconnected initiatives that establish a web of support for both the LGBTQ+ fitness community and their allies. 

A recent content analysis of studies published between 1998-2018 highlights the disparities in physical activity and sport participation among LGBTQ+ youth. The review found that overall, LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-18 engage in less physical activity than their heterosexual and cisgender peers, with sexual minority males being less likely to participate in team sports. 

The study also revealed that both sexual and gender minority students feel less safe in gender-segregated athletic facilities. These findings underscore the need for targeted interventions to support LGBTQ+ youth involvement in fitness activities.

Recognizing this problem, organizations like the OUT Foundation are taking proactive steps to make the fitness industry more inclusive. One endeavor at the heart of this mission is the OUTAthlete Program. This project provides year-long gym memberships to LGBTQ+ young adults aged 18-30, helping over 107 athletes in 32 cities to date.

“The LGBTQ+ community has been challenged with finding fitness spaces that support an individual’s authentic self,” Paul Raker, vice president of operations and communications for The OUT Foundation, tells Athletech News. “This training program provides the necessary education and learning in which the fitness industry can engage one of the fastest-growing populations with an inclusive environment.”

credit: The OUT Foundation

“I am so glad to be able to connect with other people in my community and share how we are constantly able to overcome these adversities and stand up for ourselves, showing what true strength is,” added OUTAthlete Brady Nieman. “I am finding what true strength is more and more … fitness is for everybody and it is really great to be a part of the OUTAthlete Program.” 

Beyond gym access, OUTAthletes receive a 30% discount on apparel, join a supportive network of peers, receive gifts from sponsors, nutritional support and monthly educational sessions.

The OUT Foundation began in 2011 with the first “OUTWOD” gay CrossFit meetup in New York City. Over the years, it has grown into a nationally recognized organization dedicated to breaking down the barriers that LGBTQ+ individuals often face in traditional fitness spaces. This year, the organization is partnering with Movement Fitness to place an OUTAthlete at each of their 19 facilities across the country.

Educating for Inclusion

The OUT Foundation’s commitment to inclusivity extends to educating fitness professionals through the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Training (E.D.I.T) program. Part of The OUT Foundation’s Athletics Inclusion Movement program, E.D.I.T is a standalone, capstone training designed specifically for anyone seeking to create a welcoming and nurturing fitness environment for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Open to coaches and athletes of all experience levels, E.D.I.T. provides essential training on LGBTQ+ history and terminology, the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community in accessing fitness and practical tools for incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into daily gym operations.

“Creating safe and welcoming spaces is a win-win,” Raker says.

Accredited by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the Athletics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), the program offers 0.2 and 2.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) respectively. By equipping fitness professionals with these skills, the EDIT program fosters environments where LGBTQ+ individuals feel welcomed and supported.

credit: Blink Fitness

Partnering With National Gym Chains

To further its mission, The OUT Foundation has partnered with Blink Fitness for Pride Month this June. The NYC-based, nationwide fitness franchise, which recently announced a multi-million dollar investment in its most-trafficked locations, is known for its commitment to an all-inclusive environment. 

Blink will support The OUT Foundation by donating $10 for every Green membership sold throughout June. The Green membership provides access to all Blink locations, bring-a-friend-anytime benefits, and unlimited access to the Blink App’s fitness and wellness content.

“Our clear and steadfast purpose centers around being the gym for ‘every body,’” said Guy Harkless, president of Blink Fitness. “Inclusive and accessible fitness for all people has been our mission from day one. This Pride month, we are honored to once again support the important work of The OUT Foundation in their outreach and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Additionally, Blink will sell a limited-edition Pride t-shirt, with a portion of each sale benefiting The OUT Foundation. Last year, Blink donated over $20,000 during Pride Month and participated in the OUTAIM training curriculum.

“Blink Fitness is leading in so many ways within the fitness industry, and we are proud to align with our mission of empowering the LGBTQ+ community through health and wellness,” said Tina Weaver, executive director at The OUT Foundation.

The post The OUT Foundation Works To Make Fitness Inclusive for LGBTQ+ Members  appeared first on Athletech News.


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