#Goals: Transmasculine And Nonbinary Folx Whose Fitness Practices Inspire

With the dawning of a new year, the inevitable deluge of listicles (article-list hybrid pieces common to media outlets like Buzzfeed) has not disappointed.  Behold, 15 Trans Men Who Are Our 2017 Fitness Goals as judged by some cisgender, gay, white dude.

First of all. This list contains 12 white guys, and 3 men of color.  Now, there are a few likely reasons. Based on the fact that this list contains the usual suspects representing the transmale community, it’s no wonder there are only three men of color– that’s all you ever see in 99% of representations in the media of trans men.

Second. There is no “fitness” context (or even evidence of exercise, aside from the bodies) to any of the photos. The photos are just semi-naked bodies. That’s it. Physique does not equal fitness. You can be really fit and not have a cut physique. These two things are not synonymous, and our society’s conflation of these ideas does nothing but drive us to body image problems, unreasonable expectations for what exercise can or should do for us, leading to disdain for exercise and elevation of crash diets, plastic surgery, etc. It’s bad.

Fit does not equal skinny/super lean. Sometimes fit people are super lean. Sometimes they are not. But not all super lean people are fit. And because these pictures are nothing but half-naked shots, the idea that these men are judged “fit” because of their resting appearance is disturbing and is really dangerous for a community of people with dysphoria.

The pride.com article above was written by a cis guy, for a mainstream gay publication, using photos from Instagram and it sets a mainstream expectation for trans bodies that is dangerous. And even if we trans folx realize how fucked up that expectation is, it doesn’t change the reality that we know this is what cisgender people expect to see. I have nothing against the folx in these posts– what I have an issue with is the cisgender mainstream media using only these folx as representations of what trans-masculine bodies should strive to be.  These bodies are not “what trans looks like.” These are a few trans people among the bright, shining  array of beautiful trans bodies.

So I decided to make my own list.  My list features trans guys who I look to for fitness inspiration because they do things that are inspiring. Their stories are ones of love and self acceptance, of true body positivity and the importance of mental fitness above physique.


Jordan Hope Miller, He/Him, @mrjellodrain

img_9738Yoga Instructor

When asked to describe his gender identity, Jordan responded: “I would describe my identity as a two-spirit being of the masculine experience. I see my body and my soul linked together directly. This human experience for me is one of a spiritual journey and my gender expression is not separate from that. My expression and representation has moved beyond gender in this lifetime and to live authentically it was important for me to transition in the way that I did.

I asked Jordan to appear in this list for several reasons. First, as a budding yogi, I have lots of respect for what he does with his body. His Instagram account has lots of beautiful examples of the wonderful things a human body can do, and I draw inspiration from his practice. I also am inspired by his spirit– he has an infectious smile and a shining personality that shows just how much joy he gains from what he does.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
I have always been a physically active person– from a young age, it has helped me on an emotional and mental level to keep myself in a healthy state. From a young age I fell in love with running track, I have experimented with gymnastics, basketball, and lacrosse. I love cycling outdoors and long boarding (skateboarding). I have also spent my fair share of time at the gym lifting weights and staying physically fit. In this same category, although it is more of a spiritual practice, I have found that yoga is the best medicine that suits me. I first began my yoga journey when I was 21 and it has weaved its way in and out of my life. In 2016 I decided to take it to the next level and become a yoga teacher. I spent 6 months in India learning how to teach and to work on my self practice and lifestyle.

What inspired you to start your practice?
Life inspired me to start my practice. I was tired of accepting my own suffering as a form of my life. Life pushed me to the mat and I answered with dedication and devotion. Essentially the interest in my own well being and future is what led me here. The happiness and clarity that it brings is invaluable. You simply cannot put a price tag to what this has given me.img_0560

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice?
The benefits yoga has given me are enormous. To name a few it has completely transformed the way
that my thought patterns are formed. I have broken unconscious, destructive habits and integrated new ways of living and perceiving my life. It is the biggest gift that I can offer to myself, it brings me peace and insurmountable joy. It has dug me out of the worst depressions and losses of my life. Yoga is about breaking patterns and tendencies in your body and this only translates to the way you live your life. The more aligned you get in the postures the more that you are aligned in your heart and spirit. To me this yoga practice is a lifetime of work and it is a path, not just a physical practice.

To accept myself and my body, enough to care for it, challenge it, cleanse it, and honor it. The beauty of this is that the body is different every single dyad the trick is to listen to it enough to push yourself to new limits and to know when you have reached your threshold.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
My one and only goal is to know myself better. To be able to see myself in an undistorted way, and then to hep my community and bring yoga to the timg_9646able as an alternative to conventional ways of working out. There are alternatives and contrary to fearful ways of thinking, yoga is for everyone that has a body to work with.

Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?
I do not struggle with motivation any longer at this point in my life. It is as though yoga has helped me awaken from a deep sleep and now I have the internal compass that gives me direction and drive in the best way that I can serve existence. This has been my privilege to be able to experience this gift of traveling and learning from the best teachers, so giving back and advising others is part of my motivation. To me, it is more than just a calling– it’s my life purpose, to share the gifts and the knowledge that I have experienced within myself.

Do you have any advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
The advice that I can give is to find some nice literature on the subject and read about it. It is quite healing in itself to open your mind up to this limitless possibility and room for growth. The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali is one of my favorite books. It is not a light read, but once you start to be open minded, it will change everything. I read it again and agin and each time at that point in my life it is exactly what I needed to read. I would encourage you to find a local yoga studio that you feel comfortable with. There are also YouTube videos online for anyone who can’t go to a studio. It is much like anything, once you make a decision, the universe will help you get to where you need to be.

I know that there is a lot of dysphoria surrounding any spaces that have to do with working out, or anything that puts you in a vulnerable position in front of others. But the beauty about yoga is there’s no room for ego, and acceptance and non-judgment is a goal of everyone in the room. My advice is to let things be and let them get out of your system if they get emotional or uncomfortable. There’s nothing more beautiful than crying during a yoga class–trust me, I’ve done it more than once!


JaydenRiley, He/Him/They/Them, @soul_alchemist411
Yoga Spiritualist

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JaydenRiley identifies as “a non-binary transgender person with masculine tendencies.”

Jayden is a yogi who is always blending a special mix of witchy-good vibes with social consciousness and humor in his practice (and his life, if we’re being honest).

Jayden is also my housemate. It is not uncommon to see him striking a yoga pose in the kitchen or on the deck.  I am continually inspired by his strong sense of self and his confidence in the most difficult-looking poses. Jayden is a fitness inspiration because of his strength and flexibility, but also because of the amount of love he puts into his practice, whatever it is that day.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
I’m not sure I would consider myself an athlete as much as I would consider myself someone who finds their “center” through moving my body. I connect to myself through connecting to my breath and whatever movement or pose I’m trying to achieve. 

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice?
Yoga has, first and foremost, saved my life. By completely immersing myself within this practice, I learned that Yoga is so much more than just moving and bending one’s body. It’s an art and science dedicated to creating union between body, mind and spirit. With the goal of using breath and body to foster an awareness of ourselves as individualized beings intimately connected to the unified whole of creation. Coincidentally, the only person I knew that did yoga, practiced Ashtanga Yoga. “Ashtanga” literally translates to, “eight limbs” (ashta=eight, anga=limb). Yoga to me is a path; an eight-fold path, which if followed, will lead me to being a more whole person.image4.

What inspired you to start your practice?
I was literally at my wits end about to kill myself. I was so uncomfortable in my skin and with who I was being at the time. I needed a major change and my favorite thing to say is that discomfort is the catalyst to change. I watched someone who basically was immobile and emotionally worn out, recover like nothing ever happened because of fully investing themselves into yoga

What are some goals you have for yourself?
To spend more time actually doing yoga instead of talking about how much it changed my life, lol. Actually, I would like to reinvest my time in mindfully practicing the first two limbs of yoga and less on the third limb, asana, or physical body postures. Might seem counterproductive to a physical practice, but that’s the beauty of yoga. You find yourself expressing your best and truest asana when you’ve been fully immersed in the other aspects of self that have nothing to do with moving.

Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?
There was a time when I struggled with how much better other people were at yoga than I was. How much stronger or bendier or handstandier they were. And that’s when I remembered how much stronger and bendier and handstandier that I was than when I first started and that THAT GUY was the only guy I needed to compare myself to.


Dillon King, He/Him, @king_dillon , @flambeauxcrossfit
CrossFit Box Owner and Athlete

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Dillon is a Trans Guy from Louisiana

I started following Dillon a few years ago because, like me, he does CrossFit. Dillon is also a certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer who, with his wife, just opened his own CrossFit gym (called a Box), in his hometown of Metairie, Louisiana.  Dillon is an inspiration because of his seemingly boundless energy– when he’s not coaching or working out himself, he also works as a hairstylist. Dillon is the kind of person I look to when I struggle to find enough time in the day to prioritize my fitness, and I am so proud to consider him a friend.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
Nope! I was raised in Martial Arts (Kung Fu) but that was very on and off. Growing up I’d say I tried out for a lot of different sports and even made some teams but definitely wouldn’t consider myself an athlete. Not until my early 20’s did I enter my athleticism.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
Man, this one has me stumped because I’m not competitive.  I guess I’m a happy athlete, haha! I enjoy and appreciate all the benefits my fitness has brought my life and I love that it has led me to a path of helping others.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?fullsizerender-8
So many! I do CrossFit, so the #1 benefit has been the community, friendships, camaraderie, and support that come along with the sport of CrossFit. Health benefits of course, which I know will help me in the long run to be the most involved, active, and fun parent I can be in the future. It has also given me the opportunity to rise above insecurity and into confidence while leading me to the path of training others. Helping my members succeed and exceed their goals is priceless.

What inspired you to start your practice?
In 4th grade, the doctor said I was over weight– I weighed 158 lbs and I was only 4’8″!  I was so embarrassed. My mother, who was also overweight, wasn’t very encouraging with me. So I was very unhealthy, not just physically, but mentally, too. Hearing that I was doomed to only get fatter was traumatizing. As I grew up, I just honestly was so ashamed of myself that I just said “This isn’t who I want to be” and I changed my unhealthy habits into healthy ones little by little. Over a period of time healthier choices weren’t even difficult to make anymore. It’s truly a lifestyle.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
I would like to get to 15%-17% body fat and maintain that. Nothing crazy, but a healthy range just to prove to myself I can do it– I’m completely aware that this goal probably stems form my childhood, but it’s important to me to conquer my fears about being able to be anything other than overweight. I’d love to place top three in a CrossFit competition. Even in a scaled category, that would just be an amazing accomplishment for me!

fullsizerender-3Do you struggle with motivation? How do you overcome that?
Absolutely, I think everyone does. We’re human. Sometimes I ask a reliable friend to workout with me a few days and that helps me feel better and find my own motivation. Other times I order pizza, let go of the fitness mind, and just allow myself to be human for the night. Restart in the morning.

Do you have any advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
Do it! There are so many videos out there you can literally Google a muscle group and find a library of how-to work out videos. Hard work pays off! I began being able to do ZERO pull-ups and now I can do pull-ups with a 25 lb. weight hanging from me. Some days suck and that’s normal– not every
day is going to be your best, but if you keep trying, progress happens over time! Before you know it, 2 years pass and you’ll look back so thankful you changed into the healthier version of yourself.


Loren Evans, He/Him/Them/Them, @queer_4flannel
Mountain Biking and Hiking

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Loren is a non-binary trans man.

Loren’s fitness pursuits are life-giving, which is one of the big reasons why he makes the TransFit inspiration list.  Loren is always seeking an adventure, whether on a hike or on two wheels, flying across a mountainside. Loren also is continually challenging himself, and recently completed a grueling 100-mile mountain bike race.

Loren also has an inspiring point of view when it comes to health, happiness, and what it means to be fit.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
I have always been physically active. Did sports all growing up. Was a college athlete, always an outdoor type person, grew up in the mountains camping and hiking. Transitioning allowed me to be more active and comfortable in my body, which lead me to more adventures.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
My idea of an athlete is not based off of a body type, a six pack or even having to compete against other people.  An athlete to me is someone who has passion for testing themselves physically. Athlete does not exclude any person or body. It’s the idea that you get out there and have the commitment to yourself to see what you are capable of. Whether it’s able to walk a mile, or run 100 miles. As long as you are pushing yourself, you’re an athlete. So when I think of myself as an athlete I think of myself as someone who goes out into nature and tries to see what I’m capable of while being at peace with nature.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?
The benefits I have received from biking, hiking, backpacking, are not just a feeling of overall peace inside, but also respect for my body, what it can handle. I have received strength physically and mentally. It gives me a broader picture of the world we live in and what is important to me.

What inspired you to start your practice?
I really became serious about taking time each week to go outside and be active after watching my sister run an ultra marathon that was 100 miles in the Colorado Rockies. Watching her push herself inspired me to get outside and LIVE!
What are some goals you have for yourself?
This year I want to run a backcountry half marathon, I also am planning on doing a 50 mile mountain bike race in Vermont.  Outside of racing I want to backpack more and climb a 14er [a 14,000+ foot mountain] in Colorado.
Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?
Last year I competed in a 100 mile mountain bike race. I trained for over a year. Many days in that I did not have motivation, but what I did have was a commitment to myself to finish that race in under 12 hours. Once I decided to honor myself and that commitment to myself,  lack of motivation no longer held me back. I would get out of bed and train anyway. The moment you decide to not quit on yourself is the moment motivation no longer controls your goals. You just don’t quit, you keep moving!
Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
My advice is if you want to active, find something you love. Not everyone loves going to the gym. Find what you love and do that, whether it’s yoga, walking, biking, hiking, basketball, whatever… just go for it. Love your body, love yourself, honor yourself. And NEVER compare yourself to anyone else. This is your journey so go create your own adventures!

Elliot Dean, He/Him, @elliotdean83
Olympic Lifting and Sweat Enthusiast

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Elliot identifies as a trans guy.

I have been following Elliot on social media for a while now.  I initially found him because of a common interest in CrossFit, but as I have seen glimpses of Elliot’s life over the last few years, I have learned that he is into way more than just CrossFit. Elliot seems to find a way to be active no matter where he is– whether at work, on a playground, in a yoga studio, or in an actual gym. His array of #sweatypursuits is enough to make any fitness fan jealous! The thing I find most inspiring about Elliot is the amount of joy he gets from being active.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
Sweaty Generalist with a concentration on Olympic Weightlifting. I don’t like limiting myself to just one activity and luckily I work for a company [lululemon] that funds the majority of my #sweatypursuits. On top of Olympic Weightlifting I CrossFit, spin, and do yoga. If you bribe me with tacos I might run with you, but don’t expect me to run over 3 miles.unnamed-3

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?
Mental strength. Your mind is much stronger than your body. Patience and to some degree self discipline. Olympic Weightlifting requires a lot of discipline with eating habits. I’m still learning how to turn down cookies. My coach calls me the Cookie Monster and all my friends call my Chunky. #chunklife

What inspired you to start your practice?
My friend and I had already been doing CrossFit for quite some time but when she switched over to Olympic weightlifting I decided I would give it a try as well. I was immediately hooked because it was mentally more stimulating and there are so many nuances to the sport that you are always learning something new.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
I recently accomplished a goal of competing in my first USAW meet. It was incredibly scary and nerve wracking. I had to wear a singlet which was also scary. HAH!

Do you struggle with motivation?  Hunnamed-6ow do you overcome that?
I don’t struggle too much with not being motivated. My lifestyle is fueled by working out and all of my friends live a similar lifestyle so we all hold each other accountable. Having friends keep you accountable is key.

Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
For Olympic Weightlifting – find a USAW affiliate coach and don’t be afraid of wearing a singlet– no one is looking.


Kit, He/Him/They/Them, @butchofwands, www.thelittlevolcano.com
Yoga Instructor and Entrepreneur

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When asked about gender identity, Kit said “When I feel into my own identity, none of it resonates.  I’m just feel like I’m me, and I don’t have a specific label for my identity.  I use labels for the sake of others, its easier for people who are new to different gender concepts to have labels.  I like to meet people where they are at to create bridges of understanding, so I entertain trans, ftm, non-binary, etc.” 

Kit is a badass trans yogi whose sassy Instagram posts, fabulous yoga outfits, and larger-than-life personality inspire me to have more fun, get a little weird, and, most importantly, work to cultivate happiness in whatever I’m doing.

Kit is also a yoga teacher, and has made teaching other people how to cultivate that same happiness his life’s work.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
Yes, I have been involved in every sport imaginable since I could walk. I’m very drawn to the sense of play and games, sports always blended with that.  I played sports all through high school, a year of college basketball. Two years of Women’s semi-pro football, one year of roller derby, and have ran a marathon and many half-marathons.   Now my primary physical practice I do is yoga.  After years of beating up my body, and breaking down my psyche with the intensity and cattiness of competition, I needed a more healing way to be active.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?  
I am a yoga teacher who combines the science of healing, with woo woo magic, and doing fun things with the body. I just finished my first world tour teaching yoga in the UK, Europe, and across the states.

What inspired you to start your practice?
When I was a derby skater, I decided to skip practice because a cute girl invited me to an acro yoga class.  In derby, a hardcore aggressive attitude can be often celebrated.  There is competition against other teams, and within the team.  The goal is for you to win, and someone else to lose.  It breeds the idea of “other.”  It can become breeding ground for unhealthy comparison, pack mentality, and the idea that you’re not good enough unless you’re better than everyone else.
When I went to the acro class, I was greeted as I was, not for what I could do for others.  I finally found a physical practice and a community where I was enough. The people were encouraging, and welcoming, and there was this beautiful wholehearted sense of community.  People were open with their affection, and willing to connect. It lit a spark inside me.

unnamed-1After the derby season was over I hit a huge depression.  The spark that was lit in the acro yoga class called me to explore yoga as a possibility to heal my depression.  I heard about the magic of yoga, but I had “bro” conditioning from 20+ years of competition sports. I started going to a studio down the street that teaches Forrest yoga, which combines a strong physical practice with concepts for healing the mind.

The first class I attended the teacher taught about self love. Just the idea of that created a burning of discomfort underneath my skin. Hating yourself is quite glamorized in mainstream culture, and I had adopted that ideation for myself.   Despite my discomfort, I knew I was in pain, and was desperate to try anything to bring me closer to happiness. I kept going, and watched the yoga magic slowly unwind my toxic programming.
I had found that thing that helped me find peace in my mind, body and spirit, when you find something that sacred, the best thing to do is keep going never look back. That’s exactly what I did. A year later, I went to teacher training, quit my job, and have been leading others through the same kind of transformation that I went through.

Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
One of the easiest ways to start down a yoga path if you’re new is to get an intro deal at a studio nearby, then take as many different classes at the studio that you can.  There are many styles of yoga, and many different teachers. You are going to want to try as many as possible until something resonates.

Don’t let your fears or insecurities get in the way of trying and trying again.  Most yoga settings will welcome you with open arms, and will respect your needs and desires if you let them be known.  In the next year my wife and I plan to start putting out videos on the internet you can follow from home, as well as doing another world wide tour.  If you’re somewhere that needs some yoga magic, we can try to set something up to come teach where you live. I’m here on the internet if anyone has any questions, and I try my best to respond on my Instagram account.


Leo Sheng, He/Him, @isupersheng
Student and Exercise Advocate

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Leo is a trans man who, when he’s not studying or advocating for the trans community, finds inspiration for exercise in a variety of settings.  I picked Leo for this fitspiration list because of his attitude toward exercise and fitness and his honesty about the evolution about his ideas around why we should exercise.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
Yes and no
. I did sports all the way until high school. I swam competitively, played volleyball and basketball for my middle school teams.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice?
With my own anxiety and depression, staying active definitely helps me feel level and balanced. When I exercise just to exercise, I find myself feeling stronger. I can think clearer. I feel better about myself.

What inspired you to start your practice?
The last few yeleo
ars, even though I’ve been comfortable enough to go to the gym, I’ve been comparing myself to other guys and their progress. Instead of working out to attain muscle, the way I was, I feel like it would’ve been more beneficial to me to stay active just to stay active.  Originally, I just wanted big muscles and a six pack. But now, I want to get better at things for myself– to prove to myself that I’m capable of walking on my hands or doing a muscle up (still working on that one). 

Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?image2
Oh definitely. I can stay on a gym routine for a few months then completely lose it and stop for another few months. I don’t think I have any tricks or advice. 
Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
Do it for yourself. Working towards physical goals is great and it can serve as motivation, but make sure to pay attention to your mental and emotional health as well! Nothing wrong with doing something just for fun!

Rock Hudson, He/Him, @therealrockhudson

Trainer and Pistol Squat Enthusiast

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Rock is a trans man who makes the fitspiration list because Rock utilizes creative ways to use conventional fitness equipment or techniques in his daily fitness practice.

He is a professional personal trainer with a wide range of clients, but when he’s not helping other people reach their fitness goals, he’s challenging himself in a variety of ways. If you want proof, watch his progression on Instagram as he learns and then perfects the Pistol Squat. And then does a 75# overhead Pistol Squat. Go request to follow him– you won’t be disappointed!

One of the things I find most inspiring about Rock is his willingness to try new things and to challenge himself. Now that I’ve learned more about him, I understand why!  Rock also frequently talks about the need for self-care, which is always a good reminder when you’re getting into fitness. Remembering to slow down and take in the beauty of the moment is always important when you’re in pursuit of something, and Rock shows us that, too.

Have you always been an active person?
I’ve been physically active and working out for the last 4 years. Prior to that my activity was mostly playing roller derby for 5 years, until a back injury removed me from the sport. I was active as a child, but never athletic. I’ve been skating since I was 5, but was still awkward and lacked coordination. As an adult the awkwardness carried over and then being extremely overweight limited my movement even more.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete?
I didn’t used to consider myself an athlete. I was good at derby simply because I was skating from such a young age. Coupled with my size I was strong for a woman, even though I never actually pursued strength. In hindsight that is something I wish i had worked on. Now, I see myself as capable; if I want something bad enough I will find a way to make myself do it.

rock-pistolWhat are some of the benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice?
People think I’m 10 years younger than I am! My back doesn’t hurt, my feet don’t hurt, nothing hurts. Being fit and active wasn’t part of my life for a long time, and I feel people forget that everyone starts somewhere.
People have told me that they could never do some of the things I’ve done, but these people also don’t believe that my starting point was a serious back injury. The way people see me now, as a fit healthy and attractive person is completely different than how I’ve been treated in the past. I look better, I feel better about myself, and people treat me better.

What inspired you to start your current fitness practice?
When I was 31 I sustained a serious back injury that left me laid up in bed for a month. I seriously thought my life was over and that I  would never be able to move properly again. At that point I was willing to do anything to be active again. 

What are some goals you have for yourself?
Staying healthy and mobile is my main focus. My other goal is to one-by-one check off everything I once said I would never be able to do; such as a muscle up, a backflip, or swimming.

Do you struggle with motivation? How do you overcome that?
From time to time we all struggle with motivation. I give myself the time and space I need, then refocus on my goals. I keep motivational quotes all around me, and my life is set up in such a way I am always accountable.
I try to make my life structured in such a way that my motivation and support comes from the people around me, the schedule I keep, everything. By making choices simplified, the actions get easier. It’s not about the action, it’s about making the action easy.
So in the end things like going to the gym aren’t a struggle to complete, but just a part of my life the same way eating breakfast is.

What advice do you have for guys looking to do what you did?
Go slow and learn your body. Get the movement right first and utilize the power of mobility work. Nutrition is key. It separates the men from the boys.


Jaden Fields and Destin Cortez, He/Him & He/Him@thedappermrjadenToolBox Trans LA

 

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When I was coming up with the list of which trans guys I was going to add to this inspiration gallery, Jaden and Destin immediately came to mind.

 

Together, they run a transmasculine social support space called Toolbox, here in Los Angeles.  A big part of the goal of the Toolbox is to create a safe space for trans men to work on their relationships with their bodies, and a big component of that is movement. It is here where they both achieve fitspiration status– their movement space isn’t about what mainstream society considers fitness, but is instead about cultivating a mindful, positive connection to the body.  If fitness is truly about bettering oneself, not just physically but also mentally, then what Jaden and Destin do is actually more about fitness than most gym routines.  On days when I personally struggle with feeling like what I have done for myself is “enough,” I often think of the message these two share, which is just to connect to your body in any way you can, in the moment.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
Destin
: Somewhat. It’s been circumstantial, depending on if I had resources and health to support an active lifestyle. In my younger years, my relationship to being physically active looked like trying to fit the societal goal of what a woman’s body is supposed to unrealistically look like. Post-transition, it was to explore how my body could grow, and to fit the societal goal of what a man’s body is supposed to look like. I physically and emotionally injured myself trying to attain this. Now movement is more important to me than being “physically active”; to move and to express without pressure or expectations is healing.

Jaden: Not really. Growing up, my relationship to being physically active came through the lens of not being fat anymore. I was navigating the world as a bigger black girl with an eating disorder that nobody believed I had (because the belief is that only white cis girls get eating disorders) and was expected to be trying to attain white beauty. Exercise felt like punishment for body. Now, our movement space feels like an opportunity to connect with my body. I’ve always had a strong body, it just wasn’t conceptualized that way because it wasn’t thin. I will admit that I feel the pressure to look like a big, buff, cis-passing guy, but I appreciate how our movement space isn’t about weight-loss or working out; it’s about trans/gnc folks giving thanks for the strength our bodies hold.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?
Destin
: I practice Qi Gong, which is a Chinese holistic system of movement, breathing, and meditation used to maintain health and spirituality. It has definitely healed the relationship I have within my body. I’m much more connected and aware of what’s going on. I’ve began sharing some of this knowledge in our trans movement space.

Jaden: I’m still figuring out what that looks like for me. It usually looks like some kind of dancing because that’s when I feel the most connected to my body; that’s when I’m in love myself the most. I really appreciate the movements we do in our trans movement space because they are tied to movement as a form of resistance.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
Destin:
To learn more and share more with my community.

Jaden: My goal is to understand that my health isn’t tied to weight or muscles. My goal is just listen to what my body is telling me and to cultivate space for other trans/gnc folks to navigate loving themselves and their bodies in a space that isn’t policing their bodies and how they move.

Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?
Destin:
I don’t struggle with motivation as much as I struggle with having the time for self-care. I do my best to take breaks during the day. I have to constantly remind myself that I am worth my time.

Jaden: I struggle policing my body. To overcome that, I remember that my favorite movement is dance. And then I have a dance party.

Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
Destin:
We have an open trans movement space at our office. Every 1st and 3rd Thursday, 6pm – 8pm, 1730 W. Olympic Blvd, #300, 90015.


Jens Cinquemani, He/Him, @jensrwc
Vegan Competitive Powerlifter

image2-2
Jens identifies as a Trans man.

Jens has been someone who I have looked up to as an athlete for a decade.  Jens and I first met playing women’s rugby in Seattle and I’ve followed his journey through various sports to arrive at powerlifting

One of the biggest reasons Jens is inspiring is the sheer dedication he shows to his sport. Anyone can dabble in lifting, but it takes a lot of practice and hard work to get really, really good at it. Just when I hit plateaus in my own lifting, I think of Jens and am reminded that it is possible for a trans guy to hit big numbers, and I am reassured that all I have to do is practice.  I also admire him for his big heart and love of community, which he seems to cultivate everywhere he goes.

 

Have you always been a physically-active person?
I have been physically active since I was a small child. I did tap dancing from ages 3-5, martial arts from ages 5-13, softball from 10-13, basketball, soccer, track and field, and ice hockey all throughout high school, rugby from ages 18-26, and now I do powerlifting. I dabbled in some crossfit, but there is some strange belief in that culture that shirts cause a hindrance in performance… not my cup of tea 😉 I was also a NASM personal trainer at a few different gyms, and a boxing trainer for a while.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete?
I would say as an athlete I love friendly competition. When I say “friendly,” I mean it. I support and cheer for my teammates, and those of the other teams. I celebrate the victories of others and enjoy watching people succeed. I love my sport, and I have a strong connection with others who love it. I am decent at what I do, and I love to learn from those who share similar goals as I do.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your practice?
Bottom line: Powerlifting has changed my life and made me happy with by body and the meat on my bones.  
There are so many benefits to powerlifting, it is hard to pinpoint one, or even just a few. Powerlifting has brought me into a community of people that I may have never met outside of lifting. I lift with people who are 16 years old to 75 years old. I lift with beginners to world record holders. We are all there for the same reason, and we all support each other. In the beginning of my transition, I never thought that I would be able to find a community outside the “trans* community,” but doing this sport that takes so much commitment and hard work, I found a community that has accepted me, and shares a common passion.

What inspired you to start your practice?
With powerlifting specifically I was hugely inspired by a former partner of mine named Sara who is a bad-ass bodybuilder and powerlifter. She helped steer me into the direction of a sport that fit my skill set and the needs of my body. A sport where visible abs mean nothing, and where everyone keeps their shirt on while training! She helped me dip my toes into powerlifting, and spent nights as late as 2am training with me to help me get stronger so I would have the confidence to find a coach and lift with actual powerlifters. I was also hugely inspired by a blog I found a few years back by Kinnon McKinnon. At the time he was competing and preparing for the Gay Games (which he won!). It was nice to see a trans powerlifter about my size just killing it! I have also been a fan of Janae Marie Kroc for many years (pre-transition) because she was such a beast, it was hard to believe. Now that she is openly trans, she has opened up the minds of many people in the strength sports world, and I am forever grateful to her for being so open. It gives vocabulary and understanding to people who may not have had it before, making me feel more comfortable to travel outside of Seattle for powerlifting meets. image1-2

What are some goals you have your yourself?
 I have a few goals for 2017.  I would like to get a 405 lb. squat and a 540 lb. deadlift at a bodyweight of 165 lb., and also a 415 lb. squat and a 560 lb. deadlift at 181 lb. bodyweight.

 Do you struggle with motivation?  If so, how do you address it?
I don’t struggle with motivation very often, but it can be very hard to get the energy to train after working 12 hour shifts in the emergency room, and also going to graduate school. My wife, Yaara, has given me the space and time, and helps me with $100s in training costs a month to do what I love to do.
What advice would you give to a trans guy looking to get into what you do?
If someone would want to specifically do powerlifting, I have a few words of advice.
First, hire yourself a good trainer. My coach, Todd Christensen, has been powerlifting for longer than I have been alive. Do not go to a coach who has never been in competition, do not use a coach who doesn’t keep track of your goals and milestones, and find others who are also being coached by the same person.
Don’t train somewhere where you would feel scared to be out as trans (if that is how you usually identify).
Do not compare yourself to others. When I am gearing up for a competition, I do not look at who I am competing against. I make sure I make my weight class, and I make sure I am following my program. That is it. If you have a coach who supports you and knows what they are talking about, you just have to show up and do the work.
Stop looking at Grindr-esque iPhone mirror selfies of trans guys with good lighting and modeling contracts and thinking those should be “goals” for you. Powerlifting is about grit, hard work, determination, commitment, and strength. It’s hard, it’s loud, and it’s gross.
Celebrate the successes of other powerlifters. Don’t be a dick. If you are in the Pacific Northwest area, contact me if you really want to get into powerlifting. If you are outside the PNW, contact me and I will get you into contact with coaches.

Devin-Norelle, Ze/Zim, @steroidbeyonce
CrossFitter and Trans Activist

14115034_10154448300797953_5885963841721240778_o1
When asked about zis gender identity, Devin-Norelle responded “Prince. Seriously! But I refer to myself as An

Devin-Norelle has been inspiring folx left and right over the last year. From being featured in Buzzfeed articles and videos to runway fashion shows and the White House, Devin-Norelle can be described by many as #goals.  I am personally inspired by Devin-Norelle because of zis hard work and dedication to self-improvement, as well as zis openness about zis identity and honoring all of the aspects of zis gender.

Have you always been a physically-active person?
Yes, I have played sports since childhood. I also have a ridiculous amount of energy and don’t know how to sit down. Basketball and Track were huge parts of my identity for a significant amount of my life. In their absence, I’ve moved into other forms of fitness.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
As an athlete, I’d say I’m adventurous, always trying something new, especially if it is challenging.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?
I benefited from increased strength and endurance. Mental discipline is definitely a learned behavior that a I’ve acquired from fitness. My physical health has always been great and lifting/CrossFit has been a great outlet for releasing everyday stress.

What inspired you to start your practice?
When I stopped playing team sports. I looked for other outlets. I picked up lifting, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t feel satisfied after each workout. I didn’t feel I had expended enough energy.  Eventually I stumbled across CrossFit and  have reaped many of its benefits.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
My first and most important goal is maintaining my health. My parents and grandparents have many health issues I’d like to avoid (if I can).

Processed with VSCOI am very competitive. I challenge myself to beat last week’s best or continue attempting moves that are difficult for me. This might mean trying a 500lb deadlift to out perform last week’s deadlift or training to better my time at a Spartan Race. Additionally, I encounter insane body builders at my gym. Many pull off nearly impossible moves. As aforementioned, I’m competitive; I sometimes change my entire routine in order to practice and learn their moves. My favorite is the hanging windshield wiper that I learned 3 years back. I’m currently teaching myself to balance on four 45lbs weights and while doing push ups, something I saw on my friend Elise’s (@elisebodyshop) Instagram. If I see something that looks difficult (in the gym or even on Instagram), I’m probably going to keep at it until I can do it.

Lastly, I desire build my endurance. As someone whose mother ran away from the falling buildings of 9/11, I was taught to always be prepared for this type of extreme danger. If I need to escape or even defend myself, I believe high endurance would help me in a dire situation.

Do you struggle with motivation?  How do you overcome that?
I don’t often struggle with motivation because fitness has been habitual for me since childhood. I do tend to slack off sometimes during the coldest days of winter (I rather be in bed) or the warmest days of summer (I rather be outside). When I nee13501609_10154284230587953_3631817799638423585_nd to motivate myself those days, I’ll watch fitness videos on Instagram or trick guilt myself into by saying, “the only workout I’ll regret is the one I didn’t have.”

Any words of advice for trans guys looking to
get into what you do?

I learned a lot by researching, but there are so
many resources now. Instagram is a great resource for different tips. Set alarm with motivational sayings like, “The only workout I’ll regret is the one I didn’t have,” or “Clear your mind of can’t.” I realize this doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes the hardest part about working out is putting on your workout clothes. But doing this, it will change how you feel about working out that day.


Ilya Parker, He/Him@forsecafitness
www.forsecafitness.com
https://transempowermentnetwork.wordpress.com/

Personal Trainer, Specializing in Physical Empowerment for the Gender Non-Conformingtrans-fit-3

Ilya belongs on this list because of his personal journey and his dedication to helping other transgender and gender non-conforming folx realize their potential and make peace with their bodies.  In addition to being a personal trainer who focuses on working with those who are typically outside of the fitness community (namely gender non-conforming, chronically-ill, disabled, and transgender folx), Ilya is also a writer and community activist. I am personally inspired by Ilya’s attitude towards making fitness inclusive of all bodies and am so happy he is doing what he is doing!

Have you always been a physically-active person?
No. I was once very sedentary and dysphoric (m
y dysphoria currently ebbs and flows). I was also diagnosed with hypertension and deemed pre-diabetic.

How would you describe yourself as an athlete (whatever your concept of that is)?
I do not consider myself an athlete. I consider myself someone who is reclaiming ownership of his unique body, engaging in functional movement and appreciating the freedom/flexibility. I participate in strength training to sculpt my physique in ways that look and feel right to me. I am utilizing fitness and functional mobility as a healing modality, which helps me learn to love my body more each day.

What are some benefits you’ve gotten from your fitness practice, whatever it is?
Some benefits that I’ve received from my fitness practice is: regaining my sense of empowerment. I have been able to reclaim my health and vitality (mentally, physically, emotionally etc.) through movement and exercise. I have been able to merge my social justice work, medical training and love for fitness into a compassionate and affirming practice…that servicestrans-fit-pic-1
our most marginalized populations.

What inspired you to start your practice?
Forseca Fitness was established in memory of my friend “Big J” Forseca who passed away of lung cancer April 2015. Forseca Fitness was birthed from the need for trans, gender non-conforming, disabled, chronically ill bodies to have better access to health and wellness services. Our mission is to aide in decolonizing toxic gym and diet culture while affirming all those who seek to reclaim, define and love their bodies.

What are some goals you have for yourself?
My primary goal is: to create and implement more health/wellness based fitness programs (in the Southeast Region of USA) that center trans, gender non conforming, queer, disabled and chronically ill people; ensuring that folks have access to this type of care. I believe this work is important as it is an extension of healthcare…it also can help folks to heal their bodies and spirits.

Do you struggle with motivation? How do you overcome that?trans-fit-pic-2
I do struggle with motivation from time to time (I think we all do). When I feel this way, I remind myself to be gentle and kind during these time. To take a second and just relax. I then reflect on the reasons why I may be stuck…then I am able to work through it little by little.

Any words of advice for trans guys looking to get into what you do?
The advice I would give is to research various avenues; as there are many ways that you can take part in the fitness community. Research online and join diverse Facebook Fitness groups especially the Trans specific groups. Ask plenty of questions (and although it’s not mandated). Get a personal trainer certification from an accrediting body. The knowledge and insight you will gain may be very beneficial in ensuring your success. I would also like to encourage folks to be mindful of the ways their fitness practices maybe reinforcing rigid heteronormative standards. Please make sure that your work is inclusive of individuals that many may not equate with fitness.

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