‘Queer Gym’ Removes Mirrors to Make LGBTQ People Feel Good About Themselves

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 4:10 am, April 20, 2017
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Removing mirrors seems to be a recent trend. A Californian high school recently replaced mirrors in the girls’ bathroom with positive messages.

Following that trend is a fitness gym in Oakland which removed mirrors to make its environment more “inclusive” for LGBTQ customers.

Nathialie Huerta via Instagram

The Perfect Sidekick, a “queer gym” in Oakland which claims to be America’s first LGBTQ fitness center, removed its mirrors to allow its members to feel more confident in their gender and sexual presentation.

While gay and lesbian gyms are nothing new—and exist all across the country—The Perfect Sidekick is a workout space designed to cater to all letters of the LGBTQ alphabet.

Established in 2010, its founder Nathalie Huerta says that the gym’s mission is “to make happy, healthy homos (and, yes, straight people can come too).”

According to VICE, which (obviously) ran a feature on the gym, Huerta’s space is designed to “disrupt and challenge” gym culture—including gay gym culture—that emphasizes fitness above all else.

After all, looking at yourself in the mirror is the best way to check out the progress you’ve made getting swole. The removal of mirrors is important for people obsessed with how others perceive them.

The writer admits that while normal gyms promote inclusivity (e.g. Planet Fitness’ “judgment free zone”), The Perfect Sidekick offers a gym that allows people who feel “excluded or marginalized” by their aesthetics to alleviate anxieties prompted by seeing themselves in the mirror. As if their workout partners in the gym don’t already notice.

One member of the gym, Danny Ceballos, said that the gay-friendly gyms he’d been to made him feel uncomfortable because of the “locker room mentality.”

According to the gym’s mandate, coaches and trainers must undergo sensitivity training before working with clients, in a workshop that covers topics like using preferred personal pronouns (they/them, xe/xer, etc.), asking for permission to make physical contact, and changing “gendered” terminology like “man-maker” to “homie-maker.”

Ultimately, The Perfect Sidekick aims to be at the forefront of a new breed of gym—one that promotes inclusivity and fitness in a safe space for the more sensitive among us. And removing mirrors is the key to accomplishing that goal, apparently.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.