Erica Nix’s LGBTQ Fitness Class Empowers Trans Community Through Movement

Class Transitions grounded in body positivity and community

Class Transitions (photo by Erica Nix)

For being the city’s only queer fitness space, the now-shuttered Transform Fitness had a shocking lack of Pride paraphernalia. It was altogether unassuming, without even a rainbow kettlebell in sight. Just looking at it, you’d think it was like any other gym in the world.

Well, unless you were to visit on a Monday evening. That’s when trainer Erica Nix – whose exuberance and love for neon leggings and Richard Simmons precedes her – would host Class Transitions, Austin’s only fitness class for trans and nonbinary individuals. For $15, Nix led gym-goers in circuit training and strength building exercises – burpees, bench presses, the standard stuff your friendly neighborhood muscle head probably overposts on Instagram – to help attendees become their most authentic selves.

More than anything, Class Transitions veteran Dukes says getting to work out in an exclusively trans and gender noncomforming space has provided feelings of camaraderie and belonging. “It’s been just as much exploring your body as it is exploring your gender and your relationship with that gender,” says Dukes, who’s been working out with Nix since 2015. As someone who identifies as trans masculine, Dukes says that for them, Class Transitions “gives a whole new concept of exploring a healthy masculinity when you’re in that space with people that you love and care about.”

For Nix, who's been leading the weekly workout class since she founded it more than five years ago, the value of Class Transitions is to provide a way for people to “get into their bodies” through fitness, an experience she calls emotional and empowering to help folks “forget about your insecurities.” But it’s not the spunky music or the constant jokes – or even the occasional fart during a squat press. It’s also more than a “gym thing,” explains Nix. “It’s beyond that.”

Austin Chronicle readers voted Erica Nix "Best of Austin" Personal Trainer in 2017 and 2018 (photo by David Brendan Hall)

What makes Class Transitions special is the language. And the bathrooms. “We don’t talk about losing weight as much as we talk about strength,” says Nix. Because Transitions – which will continue at the local YMCA – isn’t about getting the perfect beach body or dropping those 10 pounds on a crash diet; it’s about finding power and strength in your own body and gender. At Transform, where the class truly blossomed, according to Nix, the gender neutral bathrooms were an equally affirming aspect. (The YMCA offers private bathrooms.) This, Nix noted, is a simple amenity that any gym could offer to relieve the usual stress of unnecessarily gendered spaces.

What might take new clients by surprise, though, is that Nix, founder and trainer of Class Transitions, is not actually trans or GNC. But as a queer, cisgender woman, Nix says, “I am aware of my place as a cis woman teaching these kind of classes.” She started the class to fill the gap where no trans or GNC specific fitness classes were being offered, by anyone regardless of gender identity. To date, it hasn’t posed any challenges, at least for Dukes, who describes Nix as an ally who doesn’t just talk the talk. “Erica really is intentional about continuing to listen and continuing to learn and continuing to do the work. It’s actually been amazing to see somebody practice good ally ship through and through.”

Grounded in body positivity and community, Class Transitions occupies a special place in the heart of Austin’s trans community and even as it moves to its new space at the Townlake Y, Dukes expresses excitement at the memories the group will continue to make.

Class Transitions returns on Thursday, May 16, at the Townlake YMCA, 1100 W Cesar Chavez, and you don't need a gym membership to join Nix. Nonmembers will typically pay $15 per class, but those who qualify for an income-based discount could pay as little as $30 a month for a membership.

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Erica Nix, Class Transitions, Transform Fitness, trans community

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