Luke Jude with Beck Beverage at Sweet Momentum Fitness in Southeast Portland. Photo by Marian Hammond.
Luke Jude was living in Miami, Florida, working at an educational non-profit dedicated to ending suicide, violence and discrimination when he began his gender transition.
He sought transition-related medical services and was denied health care by seven different doctors.
“Some of the doctors had no clue what to do while others simply wouldn’t serve me,” he explained. “Being denied health care is incredibly dehumanizing. That experience only deepened the severe depression that I’d battled my whole life.”
That was nine years ago. Today, Luke is a fierce advocate for health and self-care as the owner of Sweet Momentum Fitness, a gym for people of all body types and ability levels.
“This is a not your typical gym experience,” he said. “At Sweet Mo, people can truly be themselves while getting in touch with their inner power and strength. We want you to work out here and be the real you–free and authentic.”
“This is particularly important for transgender people and the entire LGBTQ community,” he added. “Because of the lack of acceptance by our families and our communities so many of us don’t take care of ourselves. My commitment is that the people who come to Sweet Mo feel valued, cared for and loved by this community so they can feel free moving their bodies and discover what it’s like to feel comfortable in their skin.”
To be sure, this is not your typical health club. There are no machines, no locker rooms and no gatekeepers in gym attire to greet you when you arrive. Members change in a gender-neutral private space.
Your hosts are Luke Jude and Beck Beverage, two incredibly positive, enthusiastic transgender men. They provide personal training to every client.
You won’t get yelled at, belittled, or forced to do squats until your legs are numb. The culture of Sweet Momentum is friendly—lighthearted and fun with good humor, rather than competitive or militaristic. Luke and Beck seek to push you, not stigmatize you.
“The ‘bro culture’ typical of many big box gyms doesn’t exist here,” Luke said. “When people come to my gym, I want it to feel like a big hug, and I want everyone to leave feeling great about themselves and what they accomplished.”
The gym is intimate and accessible. It includes dumbbells, resistance bands, medicine balls, and other props designed to improve every aspect of your fitness. Luke focuses on stretching, cardio, mobility and your long-term health.
“Working with Luke is an ongoing process of coming to live inside my body with gratitude for all its strengths and possibilities rather than judgment for its perceived limitations and flaws,” said member Gail Robinson. “I plan to be his client and friend for many, many years.”
The gym’s rainbow colored tagline says it all: Fitness for Everyone.