Trans* Guide to (Socially) Navigating the Gym

This is a newcomer’s guide to the gym from a social perspective, focused on the trans* experience. This is not a workout program.

This guide draws upon my own FTM experiences, feel free to add your own experiences.

Disclaimer: I live in a diverse city and go to a left-leaning university. My circumstances could be drastically different from yours. Use your best judgement.

The Locker Room

  • Bring a friend (who you’re out to) along, they can affirm or stand up for your identity if anyone questions your presence.
  • Rarely is anyone looking at you while changing, especially in male locker rooms. Find a nice little corner and face the walls, or go to a stall to change. You’d be surprised at how many cis people do the same. I’ve changed tshirts in the locker room while wearing a binder tank after 4 months on T without any problems.
  • You can also try changing in a bathroom that has less traffic first, then walk to the gym. If the weather is cold, wear a hoodie or sweats on top, then take it off at the gym.
  • Avoid going at peak hours if you are uncomfortable, it is more likely that you’ll have to change in close proximity with others.
  • Avoid changing next to old people. They are very comfortable nude and will strike up conversations randomly.
  • I have never showered at the gym, but bring a towel to dry off my sweat, and deodorant to keep the scents fresh.
  • I find boxers to be easier than boxer briefs. If I’m wearing briefs, I either pack, or find a really good corner without people. Packing is personally uncomfortable after a especially hard session, due to shifting and sweating. Boxers sort of hide everything, and I feel comfortable standing in them for a bit to cool off.

The Gym (mostly the weight room)

  • You are NOT the only person who doesn’t know how every equipment works. You can:
    • Ask a staff for help
    • Watch YouTube before your workout. I sometimes pull up exercise videos during my workout to check how a machine works because I’m too introverted.
  • If you don’t like to talk to other people and want to avoid chit-chats:
    • Stare at the equipment as if you’re formulating your workout plan
    • Bring headphones.
  • If someone is at an equipment you want to use, you can ask them “how many sets do you have left”, which means how many more repeats of the exercise they will be doing. A common etiquette is to let you use the machine right after, if you’re hanging around. Be courteous and give the other person room to finish their workout.
  • Don’t walk between mirrors and the people training in front of it.
  • It’s ok to not like looking in your image in the mirror if it triggers dysphoria, but still try to make sure you are performing the exercises correctly by bringing a friend along to form check.


  • You are not weak. Everyone starts somewhere. The huge guy in the corner? He was once a lanky teenager. It takes immense dedication and discipline to reach the level you see in the media.

@ trans guys starting out at the gym: there will be days where dysphoria hits and you won’t wanna go work out. There will be days when dysphoria hits you right in the middle of the gym. There will be days when you bottle it up, push through your workout, get home, and let yourself cry in the shower because you’re so angry, jealous, frustrated, and upset. Push through those days like a champ. Don’t let your dysphoria stop you from working out – from your personal goals. Every day you put effort towards your goal of getting stronger, of seeing results, of gaining confidence is important. These days, although they feel horrible, are never wasted. Your hardships are just as important as your successes when it comes to becoming the man you want to be and are meant to be. It takes such a strong guy to push forward despite feeling so discouraged and like he’s so behind everyone else he sees around him. It takes an unbelievably strong man to keep himself motivated and driven through this kind of stress and pain. It’s so admirable to push forward through this. Keep going, keep working hard, keep taking steps ahead towards your goal. Every day is one day closer. Every day is one day less of having to feel negative like this. Every day is important in molding you into the man you’ll become, and that will definitely be worth it.

Fitness progress/comparison. So I’ve been climbing once a week for around 8 months now, and I’ve been hitting the gym for the past 9/10 weeks consistently. I also started bulking 8 weeks ago too. The right photo is from October 2016 at around 55kg, the left photo is now May 2017, weighing in at 57kg and 2 lbs. crazy to think I’m heavier in the newest photo. Hoping for some huge changes in the next 3-6 months to come.


Gaining muscle is more than just pushing it at the gym. It takes tons of mental strength to stay dedicated to that long-term commitment. This may even be a lifelong commitment for some of you guys. But what’s really important, I’m learning personally lately, is nutrition. Lemme explain under the cut (because this post got longer than I anticipated).

Keep reading

Workout from home: Jump Rope Juggernaut - Week 1

Here is the jump rope routine I have been following- called the Jump Rope Juggernaut routine from OnnIt. I highly recommend it to anyone who is more comfortable working out at home or on a restricted budget. I can’t afford a gym membership so I have been slowly adding to my home gym over the past few years. One of the best pieces of equipment I own is my jump rope! Not too expensive to buy and it gives a great, low impact cardio workout that really gets you sweating. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can still do all of these routines- just move your arms like you do have one and get jumping!

First Month:

I was able to complete all of days 1 and 2, but could only complete 4 circuits on day 3. My legs were pretty exhausted after each workout.

Second Month:

I was able to complete all days and even added a few circuits to the first day. All exercises were much easier to complete and I can already feel how much stronger my legs are becoming.

Week 1: Day 1

30 seconds for all exercises; 10 seconds in between
Complete circuit 5 times; 1 minute rest in between circuits

  • Regular bounce 
  • Boxer skip 
  • Run in place 
  • High knees 
  • Mummy kicks
  • *Bonus* Countdowns until exhaustion

Week 1: Day 2

30 seconds for all exercises; 10 seconds in between
Complete circuit 5 times; 1 minute rest in between circuits
Italicized exercises mean no jump rope –> bodyweight exercise

  • Criss Cross
  • Butt kicks
  • Fast skip
  • Feet X’s
  • Boxer skip
  • 3 step twist + feet out
  • Regular bounce
  • Speed skaters

Week 1: Day 3

Complete circuit 5 times; 1 minute rest in between circuits

  • 10 seconds @ 75%
  • 10 seconds @ 100%
  • 10 seconds rest
  • 8 times completes a circuit - total of 4 minutes per circuit
Shoulder Day

Shoulder exercises can be incorporated into push day, but I like having a day set aside for them just because. A nice set of shoulders will help you look broader, and most of these will also help your upper back and traps. Just like in my other workout posts before, I’m gonna assume some of you are real beginners. No shame in that! Gotta start somewhere. For any real beginners here that don’t know what sets and reps are, here’s a quick explanation: a rep is 1 completion of the exercise. For example, 1 push up would be 1 rep. 10 push ups would be 10 reps. Sets of those reps are the sets, so 3 sets of 10 push ups is really 30 push ups, but it’s spread out in 10s between about 20-second breaks. It’s helpful to do exercises like this instead of in massive quantities all at once, especially if you want to start being able to lift heavier instead of just build general endurance with lighter weight. Your muscles will develop faster this way. Hope that makes sense. Also, when I talk about warm up and working sets, warm up sets are light weight, usually lighter than you usually handle, and then working weight is weight that’s comfortable to use but still challenging. These are different for everyone. But, for this post, since we’ll be talking about shoulders, most of these will be with light weight. Your shoulders alone are not very strong, and are pretty delicate, so don’t put too much strain on them. Workout under the cut!

Keep reading

Been working thirty hours a week, training for the fire department, and running in the mornings while I can. Boy am I tired. But of course I needed to fill my schedule even more… Got a gym membership! Worked full body today but feeling the need for more core and lower back tomorrow so I’ll head over after work and get to it. Probably do some agility work as well 💪🏼


This is a pretty good video Nathan Ostrum made about self-motivation and discipline. Being consistent, with any of your goals, is the key. Whether it be fitness, a creative project, an academic achievement – whatever it is, consistency and being disciplined is the main thing that pushes you forward. Not luck, not skill, not talent – consistent, disciplined hard work. And Nathan’s right in that you can’t teach that sort of thing. You can’t teach discipline, commitment, and motivation. People have to learn it for themselves. And one thing I wanna emphasize is that you WILL have bad days and days where you slack off. Those happen to everyone. No one is free of mistakes and being lazy. But the idea is to try and have more good days and days moving you forward than bad ones. That’s what’s important. If you slip up sometimes, as long as you get yourself back on track, you’ll be pretty okay. Hope this video is helpful and motivating to some of you guys struggling with sticking with your goals.

Oly Shoes

I wanna talk about shoes, and I feel like a lot of people don’t know the info I wanna share about these. Weightlifting shoes (aka oly shoes) are something I never really thought about until recently. I mean, weight training and all doesn’t need any special shoes, right? Well, I was wrong. Oly shoes are supposed to help you feel more stable, especially when doing exercises that require large movements from the legs. Your feet are your connection to the ground, and thus as the base of your workout, they must feel stable. Having this stable base can also increase the weights you use. Not dramatically, but it was enough for me to notice a difference. If you’re currently lifting in a running shoe, that actually isn’t ideal. Running shoes are made to minimize impact when jogging, sprinting, walking, etc. They’re made to provide comfort while you’re moving to ease the impact of the exercise on your joints and feet. But, as most sports tend to, weightlifting also has shoes that are ideal for it. Preferably, these will be shoes that aren’t too soft, not as raised from the ground (running shoes have quite the bit of foamy stuff between you and the ground), and have a flat sole (some running shoes are curved slightly to help you move). Some of the weightlifting shoes even have a raised heel for increased ankle mobility, which helps if you have bad ankles or often strain your knees.

So, I didn’t go ahead and buy a pair of oly shoes. Those things are so expensive! Hundreds of dollars, sometimes! It’s honestly surprising what some shoes will go for. But I did find some good, cheaper alternatives that have actually made a huge different in my workouts, especially my squats, deadlifts, and most standing workouts.

I went ahead and bought some Asics Matflex 5 wrestling shoes. You can find them on amazon for about $40-$50. They have definitely helped me out.These shoes are lightweight, flexible, provide a lot of stability (as a wrestling shoe, they’re made to provide traction, so that helps a ton), and give a bit of ankle support by being a high-top shoe. I have noticed my squats and deadlifts feel really solid with these. I used to tend to lean forward a bit in my running shoes (because of the raised heel and curve to the sole of the shoe, I bet) when doing deads and squats, and that would ruin my balance and sometimes interrupt my ability to do a full rep, which could put me in a potentially dangerous position that could cause me to hurt myself – but that doesn’t happen anymore when I wear the Asics Matflex shoes. So far, they’ve helped me get the most out of large movement exercises!

Wrestling shoes, Converse low and high top All-stars, and classic Vans (especially for wide feet, because Converse tend to be narrow) are the best cheap bets for shoes for lifting. Sure, not all of these shoes are always cheap, but compared to most oly shoes, they’re definitely cheaper. Tennis shoes (I don’t mean this as synonymous to running shoes – I mean actual shoes for tennis) and volleyball shoes can also help with stable footing, and if your foot has a tendency to start riding over the outer side of the shoe from doing heavier weights on squats and deads, the higher sole on these will help keep your feet from slipping, which will definitely help you out during and after your workouts. Tennis shoes and volleyball shoes are made with good traction, too, so I figure they’ll provide a pretty solid base. I still think the closer to the ground you can get, though, the better.

Some advice if you go the wrestling shoe route: buy half a size up from your normal sneaker size! They run tight, and for good reason, but you don’t need super tight-fitting wrestling shoes for lifting. The only reason wrestlers would want them to fit snug is because they want to make sure they have as much traction as possible and that their feet won’t get injured.

If you actually do wanna spend the extra money on oly shoes because you’re that serious, I hear the good ones are Adidas AdiPowers, Adistars, and Nike Romaleos. There are also some really pricey Asics oly shoes that are made in Japan and have a wood heel to them, too. These are all anywhere from $75-$400, maybe even more. So have fun trying to score deals online, and may luck always be in your favor for finding your appropriate size right off the bat.

If you have any questions about shoes like these, feel free to send me some asks. I’ll answer to the best of my knowledge or even give you an article or video to look at that can answer you better than I can. If you think the shoe thing is kind of BS, well, there’s nothing actually wrong with wearing your runners to lift. But I have noticed a difference in the stability and power in my workouts. Even just a little. But every bit helps, especially the heavier you start to go. You don’t want the chance of a slight instability proving to be actually dangerous for you. I think it’s worth it to switch shoes for lifting and use your running shoes specifically for what they’re for – running. I’m sure the shoes will last longer that way, too. The decision is yours, though, I just hope some of you find this info helpful.

Don't use other people's bodies as a yardstick for your own.

I see this happening a lot in the queer community and, while it can be very helpful gain inspiration and community from others and their experiences, don’t deprive yourself or your body of the things you need in an effort to be like or look like them. Please take care of yourself, you deserve it.