When Jorge Sanchez, 36, first started CrossFit, he was looking to make a positive change in his health and his life. He then started a blog, PrideRX, as a platform where he could keep track of his nutrition and workouts. It was meant to be a personal blog, but the idea quickly grew into something bigger after hearing about his friend’s story at a fitness event.
“He told me about his negative experience while at a … competition. People were making derogatory remarks about him because he was being ‘animated’ while he was rooting, and he was very hurt by this,” Sanchez said.
In 2012, Sanchez, Gal Bensaadon, 32, and Brian Exelbert, 35, partnered to create PrideRX, a monthly event where members and allies of the LGBT community get together for workouts at different gyms in Miami and Broward.
“The best way to educate people is to be more visible. I made a logo, printed some T-shirts for my friends, and we would wear them when we worked out,” Sanchez said. “Surprisingly, the response was very positive. I don’t think people know how many LGBT people CrossFit, and I wanted to create this arena.”
CrossFit is a workout that mixes Olympic lifts with constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements, in which members get together at the gym or “box” to do “wods” (workouts of the day).
On April 25, PrideRX will be at CrossFit Body & Soul, where Sanchez hosted the first workout. Experienced athletes as well as newbies are encouraged to join. The workout is open to everyone.
Some PrideRX supporters are gym owners.
Ismael Lopez, 31, who owns CrossFit Lux in Coral Gables and is CEO and founder of PR Wraps gym gear, has hosted PrideRX socials at his gym.
Lopez said PrideRX sends a positive message unifying people through fitness and sharing a healthy lifestyle.
“We want a gym that is open to anyone in the community, and that supports diversity across the board,” Lopez said. “PrideRX gets everyone together and those ideals are really aligned with our gym. It’s truly about friends and family as opposed to a place to go and work out.”
The turnouts for the “wod” socials can get very high, Sanchez said. Up to 70 people have shown up to work out.
“I didn’t know of any groups that got together to work out like PrideRX does,” Sanchez said. “Now there is a group in New York, California has about four groups, and I know about one in the Midwest. Some people reach out saying they love the idea and wish they had this support in their community.”
Sanchez said he receives a majority of positive response via email and comments on the site about the events.
One of those emails came from Cole Timonere, 30, who was going through a difficult time in his life and was apprehensive about coming out as a transgender man.
Coincidentally, CrossFit Muscle Farm — Timonere’s gym at the time — had invited PrideRX to host a workout that following week. Timonere reached out to Sanchez and told him about his dilemma. Sanchez, in turn, featured him as the athlete profile on the PrideRX website, where Timonere decided to tell his story for the first time and shared the link on his Facebook account for everyone he knew to see.
“What I like about PrideRX is that they send a message that says I am proud to be whatever I am, I CrossFit and I’m accepted,” Timonere said. “It was the right timing for me to come out, and I also believe in what PrideRX represents.”
Sanchez said everything comes full circle, and he is happy to be back at the grym where everything began.
“I want to highlight the boxes in the community that promote and support the PrideRX ideal, which is having an open and tolerant environment for the LGBT community to work out in.”