First-of-its-Kind Gym Welcomes Diversity

When customers sign up for Nathalie Huerta’s gym, they’re asked two questions: “What’s your name?” and “What’s your preferred gender pronoun?”

It’s one way Huerta ’05, who is gay, makes The Perfect Sidekick an inclusive and safe space for everyone. The East Oakland gym is billed as the first LGBTQ gym in the country and it has a significant transgender client base. CNN and Latina magazine are just two of the national media outlets that have interviewed the first-time entrepreneur.

“Had it not been for a class I took at USF, I would never have gotten into the fitness industry,” says Huerta, who won a Stanford Latino Business Initiative fellowship to help her grow her 6-year-old business.

The kinesiology major was drawn to personal training after taking a class with Professor Christian Thompson that taught students how to create personalized workout routines. After graduation, she quickly found work in Los Angeles as a trainer. But Huerta often felt uncomfortable working out with men and decided to found her own gym in 2010.

The Perfect Sidekick requires employee sensitivity training, offers specialized exercise regimens for people undergoing gender transition, and provides gender-neutral locker rooms where members can change in stalls.

“For me, The Perfect Sidekick is more than just a gym,” Huerta says. “It’s a group of people working and supporting each other through life’s many phases.”