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How NYC’s fitness scene is responding to Orlando


Photo: TS Fitness
Photo: TS Fitness

Pride Week is recognized every year at many of New York City’s fitness studios, with celebratory spin classes and trainers marching together in the parade.

But this year, leaders on the fitness scene are responding to the events in Orlando by hosting workouts that are more about giving back and taking a (sweaty) stand than rocking rainbow swag (although you should absolutely still do the latter, too).

“What’s beautiful about New York is that it feels like such an inclusive city, it feels like a city where you get to be accepted for who you are,” says Fhitting Room instructor Ben Wegman, who led the charge to recognize the tragedy at the popular HIIT studio, which is now hosting two “Love is Love” classes on June 22 (9:30 a.m. at Flatiron) and 25 (12 p.m. at 67th Street) to benefit the OneOrlando Fund. “To not stand up in a moment like that feels like it’s sort of denying what it is to be a New Yorker.”

TS Fitness hosted a We Are Orlando Charity Fitness Bootcamp this past Saturday, June 18, and Courtney Paul’s CPX is hosting a Pride Werkout on June 22, both to benefit Equality Florida’s Pulse Victims Fund.  SoulCycle’s #OrlandoUnited Rides throughout the weekend of June 17-19 benefited the same fund, and Flywheel’s GLAAD Rides on June 23 and 25 support GLAAD’s work keeping the tragedy in Orlando in the media. Fitness blog The Sweat Life also organized an online fundraising and social media campaign, Guns Against Gun Violence, that brought together trainers and studios from all over the city to take a stand.

“You get to see every shape, size, and kind of person, and everyone is respecting and cheering on the person next to them. That’s what we stand for every day.”

Last year, Pride Week classes were filled with the exuberant energy of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which makes 2016’s festivities even more difficult, says popular trainer Zack Schares. “This year its much different. I’m so heartbroken. You go to bed thinking everything is okay, then wake up realizing it actually isn’t,” he says. “Within the fitness community, I have so much love around me, and I wanted to bring people together and celebrate love and NYC Pride, but also help those in Orlando who really need some love right now.”

To that end, Schares is hosting a “Pride Tri” on June 25 that includes a swim at The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers, a spin class at Swerve, and a run at Mile High Run Club, with $50 from each ticket ($125) going to a person in need in Orlando.

But what does working out have to do with standing up for #loveislove and gay rights? “Fitness is about being strong and being in control of your body, and having respect for your body and the body next to you,” Wegman says. “If you’re ever talking about tolerance, it happens in a New York City fitness class. You get to see every shape, size, and kind of person, and everyone is respecting and cheering on the person next to them. That’s what we stand for every day.”

Orlando also hits home for the large gay community represented on the fitness scene. “There is no other community that supports LGBTQ like the fitness professionals in NYC,” Schares says. “There are some really great people who others look up to. If we come together and do something and give back, a lot can be done.”

Giving back is good for your health, too. Find out why, here.