On Saturday 21 September Brunswick Baths was the first YMCA in Victoria to hold an ‘Inclusive Gym and Swim’ night for LGBTIQ+ people and their allies.
Through the support of Moreland City Council, Brunswick Baths were able to host the event at zero charge to participants; reducing the barriers this community may face when considering exercising in a public facility.
The idea was first put forward by Acting Health and Fitness Coordinator Aleisha Leonard, after seeing a similar event run at a Darebin council facility. A business case was put together and then presented to Moreland City Council who fully supported the idea.
As the organiser of the event there was a lot to cover off in the preparation, but on the night I was extremely proud that Brunswick Baths was able to put this on, and to see so many happy faces having a good time exercising. I heard stories of people who had not been swimming or to the gym/yoga for years and they had such a good time. Aleshia Leonard, Acting Health and Fitness Coordinator
With some excellent media in the lead up - a story in the Leader, Herald Sun and a radio spot on Joy 94.9 - over 300 registrations were made on the booking site.
Of these registrations, an incredible 210 participants showed up on the night! This is huge for a first time event. Participants enjoyed:
- entry to indoor and outdoor pools, spa, sauna and steam rooms
- entry to the gym and cardio rooms
- yoga and meditation sessions
- swimming technique sessions
- live music from DJ Slam (Slam Ross 1000) who donated their time
- refreshments thanks to the support of local businesses La Manna and My Health Addiction
- information was also available from LGBTIQ+ support services including Transgender Victoria, Rainbow Network, Switchboard and Queerspac.
It was so wonderful to see staff and patrons so excited during the evening, everyone was so supportive of each other. Jacqui Odwyer, Centre Manager
Since the event, the team have received plenty of positive feedback from those who attended. Here’s a message from one attendee:
Hey team, I just wanted to say thank you so much and congrats for running your inclusive swim night on Saturday night! I love going to the pool but usually avoid it because i have often experienced people commenting or staring at my body, or at my girlfriend and I hanging out together. I invited all my friends especially trans and gender diverse people. Thank you again for making this safe space for us!
So, what next?
Brunswick’ Bath's upcoming QFIT (Queer, Friendly, Inclusive Training) is a free six week pilot focused on strength training. It commenced on Thursday 27 September. Both sessions were booked out on the night, as a result Brunswick Baths and its staff will continue to expand upon this programming, in order to continually support this community.