The OUT Foundation started with the mission to remove barriers that block LGBTQ+ athletes to access fitness, health and wellness.
Through scholarship programs, national events and education, the OUT Foundation hopes to ensure the LGBTQ+ community thrives in the world of fitness.
The foundation was started by Will Lanier and has evolved from workouts and competitions to a foundation that fights for inclusion and brings fitness, health, and wellness to all members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are five reasons why you need to know about the OUT Foundation:
1. They offer a friendly and inclusive place for all members of the LGBTQ+ community
Before it became the OUT Foundation, the project was called “OUTWOD” and, before that, it started out as “Gay WOD”.
A little over 10 years ago, Founder Will Lanier organised a local competition to “find other queer CrossFit folks in NYC to work out with.” This quickly grew to become a series of events held across the US – known as OUTWOD – where people could “find other queers to sweat with.”
Yet the community is about more than working out together, and so the OUT Foundation was formed. Now people from many locations from all different walks of life form part of the community, which does not only organise events but also facilitates year-long gym memberships for LGBTQ+ young adults and offers an official Inclusive Gym Finder map.
2. The OUT Foundation is creating lasting change and impact
With their initiative titled ‘Chapters’, the OUT Foundation is making lasting impact on the local level in cities across the US.
Chapters are lead by volunteer local community groups who have access to the local LGBTQ+ community and provide them with fitness, health and wellness opportunities.
They do this by sponsoring year-long gym memberships through the OUTAthlete Program, as well as hosting fitness events and community socials.
The OUTAthlete Program is more than just a membership though, with the Foundation working closely with the recipients “providing weekly goal coaching and nutrition counseling, apparel discounts, gifts from our sponsors, and more to set the athletes up for success.”
Current Chapters include Chicago, South Florida, and Portland, Maine.
3. They champion inclusive gyms and provide resources to facilities wishing to become more inclusive
According to feedback and survey data from the OUT Foundation, over 45% of LGBTQ+ individuals have felt intimidated walking into a fitness environment. Negative feelings don’t stop at intimidation however, and members of the community still feel unwelcome or have been harassed directly or indirectly in some fitness spaces because of their identity.
Because of this, the OUT Foundation is working hard to implement resources so everyone in the community can feel safe and welcome. One of these resources is the Inclusive Gym Finder, a map showcasing inclusive gym facilities across the US.
The tool is free for consumers and provides exposure to gyms making an active effort to welcome everyone.
The OUT Foundation believes fitness should be a place where people can go to better themselves, destress and take care of themselves, no matter who they are.
4. They host safe and inclusive fitness competitions
Known as OUTAthletics, these events are open to all levels of athletes and offer a safe and inclusive space to work out and make new friends.
“OUTAthletics is the world’s largest initiative for bringing together LGBTQ+ athletes and allies to sweat for a cause in a safe, inclusive fitness environment.” – The OUT Foundation.
OUTAthletics is the largest fundraising program for The OUT Foundation, with all proceeds going to supporting their many programs. You can find the next scheduled workouts here.
In addition to OUTAthletics, the OUT Foundation has hosted the annual OUT in the OPEN leaderboard since 2018. The event coincides with the CrossFit Open and includes an all-gender, 100-percent inclusive leaderboard for the LGBTQ+ community and allies.
The scores are aggregated from the CrossFit Open and the competition allows all gender identities to participate in a sport they love – although all CrossFit athletes are encouraged to register, regardless of sexual identity.
5. The OUT Foundation goes beyond fitness facilities to ensure everyone has access to fitness, health and wellness.
One of the OUT Foundation’s programs is OUTHealth, which provides health services to the LGBTQ+ community through various initiatives. These include:
- Beyond Binary Care Education Presentation for Medical Students
- Quarterly Surgery Education Classes
- Post Top Surgery Selfcare Worksop
- Sex Education Workshop
Current efforts are primarily for transgender and gender diverse individuals, with hopes the program “provides the ability of those marginalized in our community to be comfortable in and celebrate their bodies.”
Other programs to ensure access to fitness, health and wellness include the OUTAthletics Community Group initiative, which offers free daily programming lead by top LGBTQ+ fitness instructors. The daily workouts can be done at the gym or at home, and include strength, gymnastics, running and functional fitness.
In addition to the programming there’s monthly educational Instagram Live videos, and anyone wishing to join the community can also connect with the foundation’s Facebook group.
Support the OUT Foundation
You can join the community, which offers free daily programming led by top LGBTQ+ instructors, here or connect with the community through the OUT Foundation’s Facebook Group to chat, network, and celebrate with fellow athletes.
- the OUT Foundation: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.