(LA Trend) — L.A. is often stereotyped as a city full of shallow albeit glamourous people. One independent gym is hoping to change that. Local entrepreneurs, Sam Rypinski and Lake Sharp co-founded what might be Los Angeles’ most inclusive gym. Everybody Gym opened in 2017 after Rypinski and Sharp met at a Feminist Business class hosted by the Feminist Center for Creative Work in Eagle Rock.
“I had a desire for a space that didn’t exist,” Rypinski said. “I missed having a space that felt more inclusive. I also noticed that a lot of people felt left out of the fitness industry. As a trans person, I felt that more acutely.”
The physical space includes everything you expect to find at a big box gym like kettlebells, Olympic weightlifting machines, and ellipticals in the gym’s indoor and outdoor space. During the pandemic, the outdoor space has remained open for members and the indoor space has been available for private rentals.
“When we opened, there weren’t a lot of people doing what we’re doing,” Rypinski said. “We really departed from the highly gendered world of the gym and created a place that could model a community of health and wellness.”
One thing that sets Everybody apart from other fitness locations is the gender-neutral locker room with private changing areas and the gender-neutral sauna.
“Gym culture is very shame-based. When you take the shame out of the equation, it’s very liberating. We focus on learning how to be present with your body the way it is and supporting people on their journey towards loving themselves,” Rypinski said.
The fitness industry is one that often focuses on shame as a “motivator” and relies on the narrative of one “ideal body type.” From jokes about the “quarantine 15” to the before-and-after photos promoting weight loss, the fitness industry tends to promote a single type of ideal body—one that tends to be thin and white.
Everybody Gym seeks to meet people where they’re at.
“We don’t make assumptions about people’s goals. A corporate gym’s main assumption is that you want to lose weight,” Rypinksi said “Our only assumption is that you want to feel better. People are trying to develop a better relationship with their body—whatever that looks like for them.”
Another component of Everybody’s philosophy is the concept of a “brave space” where everyone is welcome. There is zero tolerance for racism as well as sexism, ableism, homophobia, fatphobia, and transphobia. Rypinski differentiates this from a “safe space” by explaining that it is not possible to ensure a space that will “keep out anyone’s prejudice, ignorance, pain or privilege.” Instead, Everybody encourages gm-goers to have open dialogue, use inclusive language, and a willingness to acknowledge their privilege and learn.
“The project involved a lot of education and communication with folks about how we expect them to behave,” Rypinski said. “That’s what it means to be brave—to discuss things openly and directly. There’s always room for people to grow and learn and be an ally.”
As with every business, the pandemic disrupted day-to-day operations at Everybody but did not change the way members interact with each other. Everybody Gym expanded its online classes, which allowed people from all over the world to join the community.
Class offerings are divided into four categories—Move, Build, Rise, and Heal—focused on cardio, strength, meditation, and rejuvenation respectively. Classes are held via Zoom, they are free for members and $8 for nonmembers.
As Los Angeles reopens, Rypinski looks forward to reopening in-person classes and expanding the gym’s physical space. Classes will continue to be offered online and personal training will resume at the gym.
“It’s called Everybody for a reason,” Rypinski said. “We are not exclusive in any way.”