It’s Pride Month (!), and we couldn't go through June without doing something to celebrate this month of love. ICE NYC is partnering with OUTWOD to host events at BOTH GYMS on Saturday June 24th at 11:30am! It will be a big team WOD-based event. OUTWOD has grown into the largest national initiative for bringing together LGBTQ athletes and their allies to sweat together in a safe, inclusive group fitness environment and to raise funds for local LGBTQ charitable organizations. We interviewed Will Lanier, the founder of OUTWOD to get the backstory of this amazing organization. To sign up for the event click HERE.
Can you start by telling us a bit about your origin story? The organization began officially in 2011, but when was the idea conceived? What was your intention and goal?
OUTWOD was started as something I touted as "GayWOD" during our first few workouts. I liked that we were able to take a bullying name that too many children hear and turn it into something good. Our first GayWOD was at CrossFit NYC in 2011. There were 6 of us. It started as a social thing, really. I knew there were a few other gay guys at the gym and was like "hey - do y'all want to do a workout together on Sunday when the gym is closed?" So we did - and it was fun! Then I reached out to Anthony at Hell's Kitchen CrossFit and asked if he'd like to host us one weekend and he was totally down - so our next workout had about 15. And it grew from there. We went from GayWOD to OUTWOD and then finally after a year or so - I thought to myself - what can I do with this great group of people to elevate OUTWOD into something further. That's where the social giving came in. Since 2014 - we've been raising money for LGBTQ-focused charities.
Why did you want to combine LGBT+ awareness with CrossFit and sport?
I started CrossFitting at CrossFit Dallas Central in Texas in 2010. It was the first place that I felt truly accepted amongst the bros - perhaps simply because I could slay them in a WOD and they ended up being all "respect, brother!" But (in all seriousness) I've always felt I've been able to be myself at a CrossFit box: gay as a unicorn with no shame. CrossFitters, on the whole, are a very intense, very committed, and very supportive people...so naturally, I wanted to bring my LGBT brethren into the CrossFit fold and I knew that we would have the support of everyone around us.
What is your favorite thing about OUTWOD? Do you have any moments or stories that stand out in particular?
Gosh! Everything! I love that OUTWOD can bring together our community in a way that hasn't really been done before in CrossFit. I love how inclusive CrossFit can be and that OUTWOD can be the first step for people to change their lives thru fitness. I love all the people that I've been able to meet across the country because of OUTWOD.
What should people coming to the ICE NYC OUTWOD event expect? Is there anything specifically they should bring with them? Do you know what the workout is going to be yet? (Click HERE to sign up for the event!)
The ICE NYC OUTWOD is going to be so dope! Since it is Pride Weekend in NYC - attendees can expect a gay ol' time! No need to bring anything but a good attitude and the desire to have some fun. The workout will be announced the week of the event - but trust that it will not only be fun and challenging, but will also be scalable both up and down for all levels.
What kind of opportunities for getting involved with OUTWOD further are there?
Later this summer, we are making a big announcement for our biggest supporters - our host gyms. Our host gyms are our lifeblood and without them, we would not be able to have as many OUTWOD events as we do. For our athletes, the world is your oyster. We are always looking for volunteers at our events, assistance with outreach, marketing, etc. We're also looking for corporate sponsors to sponsor our events to allow us to grow and spread the OUTWOD love even further.