Get Fit and Healthy for 2017
By Joel Barrett
There are many excuses for not living an active and healthy lifestyle, but lack of opportunity is not one of them.
Kansas City’s health and fitness opportunities designed for and by the LGBTQ community are as diverse as the rainbow that unites us. There is no shortage of ways for you to get active, fit and healthy, whether its softball, running, walking, volleyball, bowling, dodge ball, basketball, spinning, yoga, personal training, weightlifting, Zumba or a gym membership.
Excuse #1: I don’t have
This is the number one reason people stop exercising according to James Townsend, a personal trainer at HitchFit – a private personal-training gym located in Martini Corner. Townsend advises that you make it as easy and convenient as possible for yourself. “Find little tricks to make it more time efficient.” Know what works for you.
1. Figure out whether working out before work or after work is best for you.
2. Find a gym that’s close to you so you minimize commute time.
3. Keep your gym clothes, shoes and equipment in a bag in your car so it’s easy to grab and go.
4. Hire a personal trainer to help you design a program that is best for you and works within your lifestyle.
Excuse #2: I’m just not in
Brett Courtright, local spin instructor at OneLife Fitness, says step one is “GO DO IT!” It’s no secret that immediately following the holiday season comes the season of New Year’s resolutions, which are the motivation behind many a new gym membership. “So many people will come in and tour a gym and even sign up for a membership, and then they don’t follow through on it.” He notes that it will never become a habit if you aren’t making yourself do it.
“If it is a goal for you, it is a goal for a reason. You thought about this. If you want to do this, make it fun. That’s where things such as group fitness come into play.” Courtright, a pharmacist by day, has led spin (indoor cycling) classes for 8 years. “Find something that really works for you, and make it fun, that way you want to go do it. Try to channel your energy where it is that down time to relieve some stress, then it becomes therapeutic and beneficial, not just for your health and physical appearance, but also mentally.”
Excuse #3: The gym is
Courtright suggests, “Get involved with a group class or personal trainer so you can get into a gym and not feel ostracized,” or find a friend to go to the gym with. Once you do it once or twice it becomes more comfortable and less intimidating. You’ll get to know people.” If you’re concerned about what others at the gym are thinking about you, Courtright assures, “the true reality is not many people at the gym care about what other people are doing there.”
Excuse #4: I’m not seeing the
results I want to see.
Both Courtright and Townsend don’t discourage vanity as a motivator in health and fitness. Townsend understands, “Health is important, but many people are very motivated by physical appearance.” This leads to the power couple known as Diet & Exercise. Townsend believes “the six pack is made in the kitchen not the gym [and] diet is three-quarters of the equation. We can work our butts off in the gym, but if you’re not making good decisions in the kitchen, you’re not going to go very far.” Courtright, who embraces vanity as a motivator says “there’s a large difference in the way your body looks and feels when you eat appropriately. If you’re looking to have a more chiseled body, diet is going to be very important.” No matter what your goals are, just make sure your diet is aligned with them.
And don’t forget to limit alcohol consumption. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the LGBTQ population consumes alcohol at a significantly higher rate than the rest of our population. Townsend recommends limiting alcohol intake significantly if you’re trying to lose weight. “It can be very difficult to lose weight if you are consuming liquid calories of any kind, soda, spirits, wine, mixers, etc.” While he recommends abstaining to the best of your abilities, he also recognizes that for many this may be a difficult change in lifestyle. “The occasional drink or two every other week is probably not going to sabotage you.” When choosing what to drink, he recommends a dry red wine as one of the best choices, but remember: a serving of wine is only 5 ounces so don’t be too generous with your pour. Other less-caloric options include a light beer or a spirit mixed with a calorie-free mixer. Try choosing club soda over tonic to mix with your gin or vodka.
Excuse #5: I don’t like to
work out alone.
Every Wednesday evening and Sunday morning as many as 80 LGBTQ members of the community meet to run or walk together with the Kansas City Frontrunners. The group first formed in the early 1990’s, and Frontrunner John Kelley joined the group in 2013. When asked about his involvement, Kelley wishes he had known about Frontrunners sooner. “Living in the suburbs, it can be hard to meet people. Since I’ve joined Frontrunners, anytime I go out in Kansas City there’s a familiar face. It has made it easy to meet people.” After each 3-5 mile trek, members gather for a meal at a local restaurant. “It’s a lot more fun to run and walk with other people.” Kelley reflects on his youth where he never felt like he fit in. “I was last in PE growing up in school.” Today he is a stronger, better runner than when he started, but also has a circle of friends as a result of Frontrunners. “This is definitely a group where I feel a strong sense of place. No matter what your skill level, you’re going to meet a ton of people who are there to make friends, network and improve themselves.”
If running isn’t your thing, consider Kansas City’s HASL (Heart of America Softball League) – a LGBTQ organization celebrating 40 years of amateur softball in 2017. One of the C division teams won the World Series in Portland, Oregon in 2015. The Open Division welcomes male/female/transgender persons of varying skill levels and more than 300 participants play each year.
Scott Switzer and Tim Williams started a group a couple of years ago called Team KC, modeled off of other cities who have similar team groups. “The goal is to bring sporting events together. We started it by just playing dodgeball, basketball and volleyball on Wednesday night at a gym in Our Lady of Hope in Westport. It’s open to anyone that wants to come up and get some exercise.”
If bowling is more your style, there’s a LGBTQ league for that too. The International Gay Bowling Organization has leagues that play Friday nights at Ward Parkway Lanes.
Prefer something more high energy? Try a Zumba class taught by Jacory Deon at GymKC four days a week. Jacory incorporates many dance forms into his class to a high energy soundtrack that is sure to simultaneously pump you up and wear you out.
Looking for something more meditative like yoga? There is a wide array of yoga classes across the city. There’s even a Men’s Freedom Yoga class that’s in the nude.
The bottom line is (pun intended) there is NO EXCUSE in 2017.
James Townsend offers these final words of encouragement: “Even the smallest bit of progress is going to improve your health. It’s going to give you more energy and you’re going to sleep better. Your overall quality of life is going to improve. No matter where your starting point is, everyone can improve. Anyone who has the gumption to get off the couch and get started with any fitness plan has my respect!”
For a list of health and fitness resources and links visit The Phoenix Newsletter website the phoenixnewsletter.com