Let’s be real: for many people, going to the gym is not an enjoyable experience. Whether it’s huddles of men with shiny, bulging muscles or the unshakeable feeling that your body is on display — the fluorescent lighting never helps with this — gyms can make a lot of people feel unwelcome. But, for some, the thought of entering these spaces can be utterly terrorizing.
Everybody is a new gym in Los Angeles that, as the name suggests, aims to extinguish the notion that gyms aren’t for all bodies. From the moment you walk through the door, this intention is palpable.
In addition to gender-neutral locker rooms, the gym’s facilities include a fully equipped communal gym space; two multipurpose rooms for yoga and wellness programming; an outdoor training area; and a forthcoming bodywork center. Everything from the front desk staff to the body positive swag behind the counter has been carefully crafted to invite, not alienate.
Everybody’s co-founder, Sam Rypinski, understands firsthand that many fitness spaces perpetuate the oppression and exclusion of marginalized bodies, and drew inspiration for the gym’s concept from his own need for an accessible work out space. “As a trans person, I’ve run the gamut of all the things that can happen in a gym or locker room,” Rypinski tells me. “It has always struck me as unfortunate that, in the attempt to align myself with my health, I’ve had to be in environments that are at odds with it.”
Given that so many health environments are restricted to only certain body types, Rypinski wanted to create a space that would serve as a partial remedy to this exclusionary trend. “In most gyms, there is this nauseating sense of upper class, white, heterosexual energy that is not welcoming for a lot of people,” Rypinski explains. “We are hoping to be an antidote to that.”
Hank Henderson, a queer-identified member of Everybody, was first drawn to the gym after learning it was a queer-inclusive space. Having previously felt self-conscious and intimidated at other gyms, Henderson noticed an immediate difference at Everybody.
“When I walk through the door I see all kinds of people — queer people of color, trans, gay, queer, straight—aged young to older with all kinds of body types,” Henderson says. “We’re all there to feel better in a safe and encouraging space.”
In the time I have spent at Everybody, I’ve witnessed how far the space has gone to ensure it lives up to its reputation for accessibility. The gym offers sliding-scale memberships, childcare, and Spanish-language courses, and provides discounts to locals who live within a mile radius. “We are aware that we’re in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood; there are folks [here] who could use these services but can’t afford a full price membership,” Rypinski says, noting that the gym uses an honor system in allowing members to pay what they can without proof of income.
Everybody aspires to be a place where individuals with marginalized identities can come to recharge, a sizable undertaking given today’s socio-political climate. “Self-care is a foundation that is essential for everything else,” Rypinski says. “Our goal is for people to come here to take care of themselves so they can go back out and take care of the world.”
In keeping with this intention, Everybody hosts a spectrum of events and programming led by and for specific communities, including people of color (POC), trans, gender-nonconforming, and fat-identified members, such as Fat Kid Dance Party, and Queer Care, a semi-annual community event and healing clinic led by a multiracial, queer collective of healers and herbalists.
“Power within wellness spaces has traditionally been held by white men and cis-straight people — we want to shift that,” says Syd Yang, a member of Queer Care who also serves on Everybody’s Board of Directors. “We are aiming to be part of a larger movement of creating accessibility for those who are marginalized, silenced, or cut out of these spaces.”
Like Everybody, Queer Care’s programming aims to center the needs of traditionally disenfranchised individuals and communities. “So many wellness spaces are popping up because it’s trendy, but there’s invisibility for [people of color], trans, and gender-nonconforming folks,” Yang says.
Given today’s rampant pinkwashing, Rypinski, too, acknowledges that progressiveness requires more than just words. As such, he has prioritized putting the gym’s principles into practice. The gym’s staff attends accessibility orientations and enforces a zero tolerance policy when it comes to discrimination of any kind. “I recommit to us living up to our values all the time,” Rypinski says. “The last thing I want is for this to seem like a brand that just capitalizes on inclusivity without actually making that a daily practice.”
This intentional practice is what Rypinski hopes will set Everybody apart from other companies that brand themselves as welcoming spaces. Recently, it has become increasingly common for companies to pander to marginalized communities through so-called inclusivity initiatives without actually working to include marginalized individuals in hiring practices or programming. “Anyone can make a commercial featuring gay people, that’s not enough,” Rypinski says. “Are [these companies] employing gay people, trans people, people of color? Are they promoting opportunities for these communities? That’s not usually the case.”
In making accessibility his utmost priority, it’s evident that Rypinski is determined to make sure that Everybody lives up to its name.
“It’s an ambitious title,” Rypinski says. “We keep getting called ‘the queer gym,’ and I’m happy to be called that, but the truth is we’re more. We’re a neighborhood gym, a community gym; we’re a lot of things to a lot of people and that’s how I want to keep it.”
Want to check out Everybody for yourself? Check out its website for more info.
More stories to make you smile:
- The Spa Isn’t as Relaxing (or Safe) for Trans and Gender-Nonconforming People
- Why This Stylist Eliminated Gender-Based Pricing at Her Salon
- Powerful Women Call to End the Term “Anti-Aging”
Now, watch genderqueer fave Jacob Tobia explain what makes them feel beautiful: