Queer Gym Night is an event that is held a few times each semester to create safe space for students to find community and feel comfortable at the gym. Advertised as “Building Strength while Building Community” and facilitated by Head Cross Country Coach Aislinn Ryan, the event is currently taking places on select Saturday nights from 6 p.m.-7p.m.
While the event is intended for LGBTQ+ students, anyone is welcome and there are no requirements to attend. LGBTQ+ students are encouraged to bring an ally. The event occurs in one of the weightlifting rooms, either in the East or West curve, where Coach Ryan is there to ensure it’s a safe space for everyone involved.
Coach Ryan explained that with Queer Gym Night, “If you feel uncomfortable in a gym because of X, Y or Z, you’re going to be surrounded by your community and hopefully that will make you feel more comfortable about being in a space … I think it’s important to have spaces that we set aside for communities so that people can get comfortable coming in [to the gym] at any hour of the day.”
They created Queer Gym Night during the pandemic as part of the push for programming for students to meet in a safe space at the AWC. The event is intended to be a time for people to cultivate a community. “I feel like oftentimes, you can go to a gym, just throw some headphones in and do your own thing,” Coach Ryan said. “But not every person has grown up going to a gym. If we could have all different times to have spaces for people to get used to this space and feel more comfortable, that would be great.”
They noted how the problem of people trying to create multiple spaces that the AWC can’t accommodate can arise when people see something like Queer Gym Night, but they hope the event can be a safe space for everyone looking for a community, “I think that that can be a problem with trying to do spaces where you say, ‘Hey, this is for this community,’ because then it could make other people be like, ‘Oh, it’d be great to have a women’s night, to have a X, Y, Z,’” Coach Ryan said.
“My hope is that the Queer Gym Night just like continues to spread to students and then people feel that it does introduce them more to the Athletic Wellness Center, and makes them feel like it can be their space too, even if they don’t necessarily line up with the stereotypes of what one may think a gym goer at school should be,” added Ryan.
So far, the turnout for Queer Gym Night has been light, but Coach Ryan said, “The way that I navigate my life is any person is worth the time. So even if we just had two people come through, it’s still worth being there and spending the time.”
The next queer gym night is Saturday, March 5 at 6 p.m. Sign up at IM Leagues under Late Night Events on the Intramural Sports side or by contacting Coach Ryan at email@example.com