We are proud of the diversity of backgrounds our oUTAthletes come with, and we work diligently to provide them with the resources they need to succeed in fitness, health, and wellness.

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Leesh (they/them) is a long-distance road runner and a proud participant in the OUT Foundation’s OUT Athlete program. Outside of the program, Leesh is a researcher with a focus on LGBTQ+ health through Columbia University, the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and the Queer Running Society. With a desire to create a brighter future for queer and trans folks, Leesh is committed to advancing the understanding of LGBTQ+ health issues and improving access to resources for LGBTQ+ athletes. Through their work and advocacy, Leesh is determined to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all LGBTQ+ athletes. The OUT Foundation’s OUTAthlete program has been a transformative experience and has had a profound impact on their fitness journey, providing them with a sense of community, comfort in the gym, resources to continue their advocacy, and enhanced strength and safety as a runner.

Through the OUTAthlete program, Leesh found a supportive and inclusive community in their neighborhood. Connecting with like-minded individuals who shared their passion for movement, they discovered a safe space where they could push themselves and be their authentic selves in a safe and inclusive environment. The OUTAthlete program empowered Leesh to overcome any anxieties they had about fitness spaces. Through workshops, mentorship, and a strong support network, they gained the confidence to pursue their fitness goals authentically. At their “home” gym, they emphasize injury prevention and safety. Leesh learned proper training techniques, received expert advice, and developed the tools to stay strong and 

resilient while minimizing the risk of harm. This knowledge ensured their physical well-being and provided the confidence to continue their fitness journey.

With the OUTAthlete program, Leesh has been embracing their body’s capabilities and pushing their boundaries. This newfound versatility empowered them to thrive in different physical expressions. As a lifelong runner, Leesh discovered the profound impact of strength training through the program. Lifting became a pivotal part of their routine, enhancing their running performance significantly. The combination of cardio endurance and increased muscular strength propelled them to new personal bests and allowed them to conquer challenging distances with greater ease (and without injury). Leesh developed the necessary muscular support and stability to withstand the demands of long-distance running. The increased strength in their core, legs, and upper body provided a solid foundation, minimizing the risk of running-related injuries and ensuring a safer and more enjoyable experience. With the support of the OUTAthlete program, Leesh has struck a perfect balance between their love for running and the benefits of strength training. This symbiotic relationship has made them a stronger, more resilient athlete, while also ensuring their safety and confidence as a runner.

Today, Leesh continues to embrace the transformative power of lifting and running. They hope to inspire others with their dedication and determination, showing that a multifaceted approach to fitness can lead to incredible growth and achievements. Through their journey, Leesh hopes to embody the spirit of the OUTAthlete program and advocate for a more inclusive and accepting environment in the world of sports and fitness.”

“The OUT Foundation has been monumental for me. I recently moved over halfway across the country- from NY to CO. It was the biggest change I had ever made in my life. I grew up in NY, went to college in NY, and stayed there after I graduated. All my vacations have been on the east coast, and my summer days were all spent on the beach. I traded that to take a chance at life in the mountains. 

Growing up, I had always been part of a team. It started with softball, evolved into marching band, then tennis. In college it was all of my rugby friends. Even after college, I joined my local adult rugby league. I was lucky- my spaces were always surrounded by other queer people. The hardest part of coming out was coming out to myself. After I finally understood my sexual orientation, coming out to everyone else was easy. I was accepted. 

But moving out to Colorado was going to be different. I was moving in with my partner, and I was moving away from all of my friends. And making friends as an adult- as we all know- isn’t easy. There’s no little league to join with a bunch of other kids. There are no classrooms full of study groups. There are no clubs that meet in the common area of your dorm room. There’s no time- life gets swallowed up by work, chores, and catching up on rest when both of those are done. So, I knew when I moved that the hardest thing for me would be socializing. I’m pretty shy, I always have been. I’m not the one to walk into a group of people without my heart rate spiking just a bit. Big groups of strangers make me nervous. How would I meet people in a new place?

That’s where The OUT Foundation came in. I applied before I moved, hoping that being a part of something bigger would help me adjust to all the changes in my life. It would give me accountability, a place where I belong, and goals to achieve- with a means to achieve them. It would also give me a sense of community. Knowing that The OUT Foundation partners with gyms that proudly support my community gave me comfort that no matter where I ended up, there’d be nothing threatening about it. And months later, I have never questioned that. 

I got placed with Movement Gyms- a climbing focused gym that’s so much more than climbing. The coaches at the fitness classes are extremely friendly. They’re always welcoming, whether it’s a climbing class, yoga, HITT, or mobility. Obviously, no one is great at everything, and the coaches do such a great job at making sure that even if what we’re doing isn’t what you’re best at-or even what you’re good at- that it doesn’t deter you from trying. Never have I felt judged by a coach or other athletes in the gym. 

And it helps that I got paired with a fellow OutAthlete. Lukas (he/they) is an incredible athlete, and a great friend. Having him as a resource and gym partner has made my experience with The OUT Foundation just that much better. 

With my time at movement gyms, I’ve made so many friends that I go climbing with every single week. We’ll go to the gym, grab dinner, and catch a baseball game. I’ve become great friends with so many people, and I owe it all to The OUT Foundation. I’m not sure that I ever would have entered a rock climbing gym if it wasn’t for this organization.

Every OutAthlete is incredibly supportive. Even though there’s no way I could ever meet them all in person, I have no doubt in my mind that I could get along with each and every one of them. I’ve made so much progress as an athlete, and they’re there for every part of it; From sharing nutrition hacks, to congratulating me on my first pull up. Even though they’re not physically with me in CO, they’re the greatest sense of community and support I have. 

I look forward to spending the rest of the year growing with them, getting stronger with them, and feeling better with them, because of The OUT Foundation.” 

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I am Lizeth Martinez , a mental health therapist and a current OUTAthlete for the year 2023.

Reflecting on my movement habits from last year, I am amazed at how much that has changed in these few months. I hardly engaged in any exercise after my last marathon in March 2022, and had little motivation to get any type of movement thereafter. I always left movement for later. I also used to be a person who loved sleeping through the morning, and now I am taking a lot of pride in sharing that I am able to wake up early in the morning to make it to the gym now, with such ease and great enthusiasm! This has drastically, in a very positive way, changed the way I get through the day. I feel waking up early to go to the gym has filled me with a lot of energy throughout the day. I love waking up during sunrise to get a workout now.

I have also recently reflected on how much more mindful I am of my eating habits. It is a long road ahead still, but I am making small changes each day. One very important thing I noticed has been my cravings for alcohol have tremendously decreased; I am also able to reject any drinks and be okay with that.

Socially, I have always been a quiet person, but in these last few months, I have met an amazing group of individuals, not only through The OUT Foundation program, but also at the gym. I would not say I am a social butterfly now, but I am definitely comfortable being out of my comfort zone.

This program, in only 5 months, has supported and encouraged me to be okay with who I am as an LGBTQ+ individual, has helped me find myself, accept myself, but most importantly love myself. I am growing more comfortable in being who I am, and that is thanks to the support of this amazing program and mentors who hold all of us strong.”

“My name is Santy and I am a part of the 22/23 cohort with The OUT Foundation! 

This has been such a wonderful journey thus far. I’m learning more and more about myself, such as my capacity to do more and push boundaries I never thought I could push. That includes the physical aspect of fitness and movement, but also my mental capacity to do hard things, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

I’ve also met some incredible humans through The OUT Foundation. I’ve met up with someone in my city, and that was an experience I got to do because of the connections that are fostered within this community. I find it so beautiful to connect with my community and extend that connection with people I’m meeting inside The OUT Foundation community, too. 

Some things I struggle with are what goes into my body in terms of nutrition, being aware of my relationship to food, and creating healthy boundaries. Being a part of the M2 performance nutrition plan has helped to sharpen those tools for myself. I get to hold myself accountable and also create a space to make mistakes and have hiccups without judgment. It’s sort of an all-encompassing experience that hits all the areas I’ve been wanting to improve and become more well-rounded.”

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You can support the OUTAthlete program and future LGBTQ+ athletes by donating to The OUT Foundation! You're contribution will help us support OUTAthletes in the program today and in the future.


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