What does it mean to be a feminist gym?

When you think of a traditional gym, it’s easy to picture a fleet of treadmills, some machines you may or may not know how to use, and a row of TVs playing news and sports. Unless you’ve dropped in on a class at Bold & Badass, it might be difficult to imagine what a feminist gym looks like.

feminist gym member montage

Put simply, feminism supports social equality regardless of sex or gender identity. Feminism is not just the color pink nor a cute feline-themed hat; it’s a way of supporting and uplifting the people around you for mutual success.

A feminist gym is not just for women

Bold & Badass is not a gym for women. It’s a gym for people of all gender identities across the spectrum. For a gym to be feminist, it doesn’t need to be “women-friendly”—it should be gender inclusive. It respects people’s bodies, goals, and preferred pronouns.

A feminist gym embraces intersectionality

Intersectional feminism “take[s] into account the needs of women from a variety of backgrounds when considering social questions and issues to advocate for,” and a feminist gym should do the same. Feminist gyms, like Bold & Badass, focus on inclusivity that’s not just limited to gender but spans across spectra of identity: race, sexual orientation, nationality, class, education, and more.

A feminist gym celebrates progress

The seasoned athlete and the fitness-newbie alike should find a safe space to exercise in a feminist gym. That’s what’s great about classes at Bold & Badass: the exercises are scaleable to fit specific fitness levels and limits. A feminist gym doesn’t talk about which exercises are “best for women’s bodies,” but instead focuses on what works for all bodies at different points in their fitness journeys.

Lifting weights for the first time can awaken a lot of feelings: awkwardness, thrill, or fear, among others. A regular gym might leave you in the lurch with those feelings, teaching you the proper form but neglecting the emotions of that experience. A feminist gym knows a high five and a simple “you can do this” goes a long way. It’s a sign of camaraderie and confidence, not coddling.

A feminist gym is a community

When you clock out of a class, sweaty and full of endorphins. You can literally leave the gym, but symbolically you’re always there. Whether it’s chatting in a Facebook group of fellow lifters or reading a gym newsletter, a feminist, inclusive fitness community is here to support you, not just when you’re lifting a heavy weight. Encouragement is encouraged in all forms. Inside the gym, you’ll see it in people helping with a heavy lift or clearing out equipment before the next round. Outside of the gym, it manifests in the form of motivating folks to meal prep or supporting new lifters in their first competition.

Want to know more? Check out our offerings at Bold & Badass, Southeast Portland’s resident body-positive, LGBTQ-friendly, feminist gym.

Update: Results from the PWCL Challenge

The PWCL Challenge rolled to a close on midnight of Halloween this past weekend. As many of you know, after the success of the Launch Party in raising $196 for the Portland Women's Crisis Line, I decided to extend the challenge and donate 100% of the October proceeds...

read more

PWCL Challenge: We Can Do Better!

At the Bold & Badass Launch Party on October 17th we raised nearly $200 for the Portland Women's Crisis Line!But I think we can do EVEN BETTER than that.Sign up for any fitness or self-defense package before November 1st and you'll get 50% OFF YOUR FIRST...

read more