DONATE NOW to Support LGBTQ Fitness

DONATE NOW to Support LGBTQ Fitness

[Ready to give? Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the “Donate Now” button. Or read ahead to learn more about the program, hear testimonials from participants, get a breakdown of costs, and see how your donation will be used!]

The Need:

Do you believe that all people should have access to safe and inclusive physical fitness opportunities regardless of their financial status or gender identity? You do? That’s great! Us too!

Unfortunately, for some members of our community – particularly our trans and non-binary friends and family – accessing safe and inclusive fitness opportunities can be anything but simple. From issues with change rooms and discriminatory registration forms, to exercising alongside clientele who aren’t LGBTQ friendly, accessing physical fitness opportunities in many traditional fitness spaces is uncomfortable (and even unsafe!) for some members of our community. And that doesn’t even begin to address the barriers to fitness posed by financial constraints.

We hope to see a day where all people can feel safe and comfortable in all fitness spaces, regardless of their body shape, their financial status, or their gender identity. But until that happens, it’s important that we make sure people aren’t falling through the cracks. Physical fitness is a key component of someone’s overall health and wellbeing. So, it’s our job as a community to make sure there is opportunity for safe and inclusive fitness for ALL of our LGBTQ friends and family.

With the EMHC program, there is a real, live, professional human being that knows how to do this stuff and is happy and excited to help; to adjust exercises to fit people’s levels and abilities and talk to each of us to make sure we are exercising safely and comfortably. That is not something I have ever had the luxury of experiencing. There are so many things in life that the LGBTQ+ people I know worry about. To have such a major aspect – physical wellness – be taken care of so completely, is a huge relief.

The Response:

To help make that happen, the EMHC has joined forces with our generous partner Blitz Conditioning to develop and offer a free/by-donation LGBTQ fitness program! The program will run three times per week at Blitz Conditioning and is led by a trainer who has specialized in training LGBTQ individuals. During sessions the instructor ensures that individuals have access to potential modifications to ensure each physical activity is appropriate for them. And because of the instructor’s expertise in LGBTQ fitness, they are able to respond to participants’ needs with a special level of understanding and sensitivity.

After completing a three week Beta Testing phase to ensure that the program was reflective of what community members wanted and to ensure that all of the kinks were worked out, we are now ready to launch a full six month pilot, which will be open to all LGBTQ community members on a drop-in basis. And did we mention that it is free?

It is important to us to keep the program as low-barrier as possible. Therefore, the program is free to all participants (although they will have the option to make a donation to the program if they are able). During the six month pilot, we hope to conduct a thorough evaluation of the program and detail its positive impact on the health and wellbeing of participants. Once the pilot and subsequent evaluation are complete, we will approach funders in hopes of obtaining ongoing, sustainable funding for the program.

In the meantime, even with Blitz Conditioning’s generosity, running a fitness program three times a week for six months isn’t cheap – especially for a small, volunteer-led grassroots organization like us. And that’s where you come in!

A look at the numbers:

Over the course of the sessions, I ended up talking to other participants. I had actual conversations – and enjoyed them! I have never talked to people in a gym and just enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve actually socially interacted in a gym since grade 10 Phys Ed class. At other gyms I’m scared to interact with other patrons- as if I may give something away. That, and everyone is buff and intimidating. But this just felt so much like a safe space. And I love it so much. I don’t think I have words to adequately express how important this has been and how happy it makes me that it even just exists.

The Costs:

Thanks to Blitz’s generosity, the program only costs about $60 per session, inclusive of everything (i.e. fitness space, instructor’s fee, etc.)

At three sessions per week, over six months, we will offer approximately 75 fitness sessions to community members.

That comes to a grand total of $4,500.

In the three weeks of the Beta program, I have lost eight pounds, I feel physically stronger, and I’m motivated to keep going! Before starting the program, I was in a state of depression. But since starting, my mood has greatly improved!

The Benefits:

We will be offering 75 sessionsfree of charge – to an average of 15 community members per session.

That works out to be approximately 1,125 hours of physical fitness for Edmonton LGBTQ folk.

For free! In a space where they feel safe. With a community that is inclusive. And instructors who understand and care about their needs.

This program was important to me because I didn’t have to worry about who was working out next to me. Everyone who attended was comfortable with one another. Physical fitness has always been important to me but I’ve never felt comfortable in the environment I was working out in. At Blitz, I was free to be myself while also refining my fitness goals.

What Your Donation Does:

1,125 hours of physical fitness at approximately $4,500 works out to be $4 per hour of physical fitness for one individual.

That means for every $4 you give, one individual gets access to an hour of free, safe, inclusive, and supportive physical fitness.

So, for $20, you provide that opportunity to five people.

For $40, you provide that opportunity to 10 people.

For $60, you can cover the cost of one session – for everyone!

For $180, you can cover the cost of an entire week of sessions!

And for $4,500 – Well, you get the point.

Doctors, therapists, friends, family, and strangers all like to suggest, ‘Well, have you tried exercising?’ as a way to combat mental illness. And for me, exercising is something that does genuinely help to make me feel better. But cost, time commitments, intimidation, fear and anxiety about other patrons and change rooms are all more than enough to make me say, ‘Well, maybe not.’ With the EMHC program, I have felt genuine comfort and safety and have been able to receive personal feedback and assistance to ensure that I am properly exercising my body. It’s exciting and positive!

What Your Donation Doesn’t Do:

As a volunteer-led organization, our overhead costs are extremely minimal. Therefore, 100% of what you donate to this campaign (minus the transaction fee charged by GoFundMe) will go directly toward the costs of this program. When we say that every $4 you donate covers the cost of an hour of fitness for one member of Edmonton’s LGBTQ community, we mean it!

As a non-binary person, I feel ostracized in most spaces that focus on the body: washrooms, locker rooms, gyms, pools, etc. Because my body doesn’t fit within what these spaces are designed to expect, it feels like an oppressive environment to simply exist within them. This program is necessary  to remove the isolation non-cis folks experience in these spaces, encouraging us to celebrate and understand our bodies in positive ways.

Donate Now:

If you want to make sure that all LGBTQ individuals have access to safe and inclusive fitness opportunities, regardless of their body shape, financial status, or gender identity, please donate!

We are committed to providing this program free-of-charge to participants regardless of what we raise through this campaign. If we don’t raise the full $4,500 through this campaign, we will aim to make up the difference through voluntary donations given by participants. However, if we are fortunate enough to raise the entire amount now, we can invest any future donations into the future sustainability of the program, ensuring that it can continue well beyond the initial six month pilot.

If you want to help us do that, please consider donating now. To donate, please click the button below:

Image result for donate now rainbow

Have some more questions you want answered before donating? That’s okay too! Contact an EMHC representative at contact@yegmenshealth.ca to learn more about the program.

On behalf of the EMHC, Blitz Conditioning, and the program participants, we thank you for partnering with us in helping to improve the health and wellbeing of Edmonton’s LGBTQ community.