One of the things that brought me to professional fitness was the culture – namely, how bad it was. I’m not going to throw around too many buzzwords but suffice to say that the fitness industry has an incredible problem with women, queer people, people of color, and anyone who isn’t thin and muscular. So many people abandon exercise at a young age because they’ve been told they’re “not athletic” or are afraid to step foot in a gym because they don’t think they belong there. I believe strongly that fitness is for everybody and how strong you are or how in shape you are does not determine your right to work out in a supportive environment.
Vanessa Friedman’s essay “Why I Got Off the Pacific Crest Trail Instead of Walking All the Way to Canada” dives into the challenges she faced as a self-described “fat slow lesbian” on the PCT. The trail hiking community, celebrated by many as welcoming and a “second family” was less welcoming and more passive aggressive towards someone they felt was an outsider. It’s a long read, but absolutely worth your time.