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A gay personal trainer and LGBTQ health advocate, who runs his own workout studio in Toronto, Canada, has penned a powerful open letter to gay men asking him if he could open up their gym for them.
Ryan Wolman runs Motus Training Studio. He says that being approached by gay men, some of whom have offered him money just to open his gym for them, prompted him to speak out and call for a reality check.
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“To the gay guys on hookup apps, the muscle bears on Facebook, the circuit boys on Insta…we need to have a talk,” he wrote on an Instagram posting.
“Stop asking me if my gym is open. It’s not.
“Stop asking me if I will open it for you. I won’t.
“Yes, I know how much you just offered me per hour. No. I won’t let you in. Because it’s illegal, it’s irresponsible and quite frankly you need to stop,” he continued.
“We’re all in a bit of shock right now. All. Of. us. We need to stay home. I find the fact that you’re willing to risk your health, and the health of the people around you because you need ‘the gym’ so badly truly concerning.
“I understand that anxiety and other mental health issues affect queer folk more. I understand the gym can be a sanctuary. I do this for a living for a reason, but right now you’re simply going to have to find other ways to channel that energy.
“Maybe this is a good time to consider why you’re willing to risk your health to go to a place designed to increase your health. Isn’t that a bit strange? Are you maybe addicted? If so are you addicted to fitness (which you can get outside or at home) or are you addicted to ‘The Gym.’ I mean, I own a gym usually I’m thrilled that you put so much effort in.
“You can workout at home. If you need help I can help you. I do a ton of stuff for free and most trainers would kill for a couple extra online clients right now. Yes, I know that home workouts don’t make you get the same gainz, but that’s how it is.
“But maybe it’s time to assess some of the negative here and do a bit of a detox. The gym is a place, it’s not your life. Right now a gym could lower the quality of your life, or even end it.
“So no, I don’t want you in my gym right now. I don’t care what you offer. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for your community, and it’s sure as hell not good for you.”
“If you need help, ask for help. We’re in this together. #StayStrongStayHome.”
Exercise addiction is a recognized addiction. Physical activity releases endorphins and the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can give people feelings of joy and pleasure. Many gay men also struggle with issues around their bodies, and working on their physique is one way of tackling this, but it can be taken to dangerous extremes.
Wolman’s posting was welcomed by many.
“Thanks for being a voice of reason during this crazy time,” commented one.
“I’m amazed at all the gays still messaging me to hook up,” said another. “I say I’m self-isolating and then message me like is that a no?? Like they don’t understand or get it. Lol. It’s all about the “D”. No concern for themselves or others.”
Wolman told Queerty he was “disappointed that some people’s need to look or feel attractive/strong overrides their desire to be safe, healthy, and protective of the people in their biological and chosen families.
“Gym addiction is a serious health issue in our community, and that’s really been emphasized as a result of this pandemic,” he says.
“I think the gay community, in particular, tends to glorify a specific, exclusive “type” of gym body, and that feeds into a lifestyle that encourages us to go beyond what is healthy.
“It’s important to us that people love working out and enjoy the gym, and certainly to be motivated by their achievements, but never at the expense of physical and mental health.”
In many countries, people are now in lockdown or having to practice social distancing to stem the spread of this new coronavirus. Some daily exercise is encouraged, and YouTube and Instagram are full of people sharing home workouts. These may not be as good as what you’d get at the gym, but with gyms closed, they’re the next best thing.