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Cleveland man creates affirming, affordable fitness space for LGBTQ+ community

Posted at 10:20 AM, Jan 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-19 10:20:13-05

CLEVELAND — Woven into the fabric and history of the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood sits a stately brick apartment building on the corner of West 74th and Detroit that's now home to a unique undertaking.

Out Fitness in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

"It was tough to find a space where I felt comfortable. We needed a space that was affirming and affordable. We needed to find that sweet spot, we couldn't find it anywhere else in Cleveland," said Josh Jones Forbes.

So, Jones Forbes created it.

He calls Out Fitness his passion project.

Out Fitness in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

"We needed a place for our LGBTQ+ community to work out," Jones Forbes said.

Jones Forbes said he knows how intimidating it can be for anyone, gay or straight, to walk into a gym and try to fit their body to the space.

"Here we work the other way around, the space adapts to you, so you can feel comfortable," Jones Forbes said.

For members of the LGBTQ+ community, there’s a lot of attention placed on creating an affirming atmosphere.

"Affirmation is meeting people who are like-minded, but also knowing that I don't have to change myself to be comfortable and I don't have to make other people feel comfortable," Jones Forbes said.

The equipment at Out Fitness came from Forbes’s home, was donated or was bought with money raised through crowdfunding.

Out Fitness in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

"It's really neighbors coming together and building a space right here where we live," Jones Forbes said.

Jones Forbes knew he wanted to make sure access to health was not an issue, so classes are affordable.

"We charge as you go, six bucks a workout," said Jones Forbes said.

In its first three months, Out Fitness has picked up quite the following.

Out Fitness in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

"In such a small amount of time, people have found great value in this space," said Jesse DismukEs.

DismukEs is an instructor at the inclusive facility.

"I was excited because I live in the neighborhood, I've lived in the neighborhood a long time," said DismukEs.

The new gym gives Detroit-Shoreway residents a chance to strengthen their bodies at the same time as having a place they call home.

Out Fitness in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood.

"Out kind of builds that community where you are familiar with the people who live in the neighborhood, and not only are you living alongside the people, but you’re also working out with them," said DismukEs.

For building owner Bridget Kent Marquez, the addition to Out Fitness aligns with her vision for the building.

"It was like a dream come true," said Kent Marquez.

Kent Marquez hopes Out Fitness will hopefully be the first of a handful of health-centric businesses to fill the first-floor units, which once housed doctors’ offices in the early 1900s.

“What a beautiful kind of revamp of the story of the space and what it's being used for," Kent Marquez said.

Jones Forbes said he would like to see every neighborhood in Cleveland have a space like his, that helps break down barriers and open new opportunities for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

"It is when I go home at night, all sweaty and tired that I think about what I just did and I feel really good," Jones Forbes said.

Out Fitness hosts a couple of classes a week, including intro to strength if you're just starting out.

You can also reserve the space for your own personal workouts from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Jones Forbes said there are other LGBTQ-owned gyms in Cleveland, but his is the most grassroots and most affordable.

For more information on Out Fitness you can check out its website