The Rise. The Shine. Series Featuring Justice Roe
Justice Roe, a Boston-based trainer, activist, and educator, is making movement accessible to all bodies. Roe is also the creator of Queer Open Gym Pop Up, a space designed for individuals who may not feel safe and welcome in traditional fitness environments and the founder of Fitness For All Bodies. Having been an activist and working for social justice for over 20 years, it makes perfect sense that Justice is pairing his love of fitness with social justice and having such a huge impact in the fitness industry.
As a Black trans man, Justice has had his own struggles with body image and body identity because of his own personal experiences in the fitness industry. Additionally, Justice also noticed that Trans men of color were invisible and experienced a lack of access to medical care. Instead of getting angry, Justice chose to help people unlearn their own toxic ideologies and started a movement in Boston around trans identity. This was also the time when Justice stopped trying to erase his trans identity in certain spaces to make other people feel comfortable. This was a pivotal moment in the work Justice is doing now.
The Queer Gym Pop, which officially started in 2018, was birthed out the desire to create a fitness space that centers the Queer community. While working at a traditional gym space, Justice noticed that he had a knack for creating communities where everyone felt welcome. After leaving the gym, his clients missed the environment that he had created. It was then that he created Queer Gym Pop Up. Speaking of this, Justice states, "Queer Open Gym Pop Up evolved because we are all taught messages in our lives about who we are supposed to be in our bodies and how we should look. These are not our truths. They are social constructs. The Queer Gym Pop Up is a space where we can be all of who we are without judgement. It's the real judgment-free zone.” While the movement centers the Queer Community, all bodies are welcome.
As a trans body-positive activist, Justice also founded Fitness 4 All Bodies, an organization which hosts workshops and other educational opportunities for fitness professionals, designed to discuss best practices for body acceptance, accessibility, inclusion, and creating safe spaces for clients. Roe’s desire is that the fitness community come together to create more spaces that are truly designed for and welcoming to all bodies. “Supporting each other’s work and creating pockets of folks who are embracing and embodying the desire to create community is the work of Fitness 4 All Bodies.”
As part of the work and mission of Fitness 4 All Bodies, Roe coined the term, Fitness Industrial Complex, which refers to the mainstream fitness ideas that teach us what it means to be fit and well in our bodies determined by race, gender, identity, ability, and body shape. Roe maintains that these mainstream ideas reinforce stereotypes about the identities and bodies of BIPOC, Queer, poor, and communities with disabilities. His hope is that through Queer Gym Pop Up and Fitness 4 All Bodies, these ideas can begin to be dismantled within the fitness industry.
In speaking of the change that needs to occur within the fitness industry, Justice feels that it requires members of the fitness community to be open to feeling slight discomfort as we work to create an industry that feels inclusive for everyone. Fitness 4 All Bodies seeks to offer education and meet individuals where they are. “The movement is being willing to feel that discomfort and engage with individuals other than yourself differently.”
Justice truly believes that no one has any malicious intent and that we simply have a framework of understanding that is really rooted in disconnection and competition, and he’s sincerely hoping to change that. “I hope that everyone I engage with feels the love in my heart and my desire to share that with them. I hope that the work I do provides a space to come together and create new ideas and visions of what fitness can be in a way that honors and serves us all.”