A year ago I found myself having to interview a stranger and with little want to adventure into the world, I reluctantly picked a building that looked interesting. City Gym sits on Wornall Road in Kansas City Missouri, a road that also leads to the frequented Taco Bell. Their website boosts one cohesive message, acceptance. “We’re more than a place to workout, we’re a place to belong. Our core values are exceptional service, inspiration and community. We’re whole person focused, with a desire to make Kansas City (and the world) a better place by what we do inside and outside the gym walls.” I knew none of this a year ago when I stumbled into the doorway and walked up to the desk. I asked if I could interview a stranger for a school assignment. The woman behind the desk smiled, motioned towards the chairs next to the desk and allowed me to interview her.
Hailee Bland-Walsh is the founder and owner of City Gym on the idea that “everybody wants to be part of something”. She was born and raised in Kansas City but went off to college at the University of Minnesota. The Midwestern city had a lot of growing to do before Hailee felt she could be accepted for who she truly was. The owner played professional soccer for North Carolina, eventually she ended up in San Francisco where she spent eight years honing in her skills and passion for fitness. She strove to make people the best version of themselves.
This pushed her to open a gym in Kansas City that was opened to everyone and anyone. It was a quintessential safe space for not only those hoping to keep their New Years resolutions but also those going other types of transformations. Hailee has started a program that specifically targets transgender men. A transgender man is a man who was born biologically women and finally are on the road to transitioning or have transitioned. Transitioning usually means taking doses of testosterone, getting chest surgery to remove breasts, and getting used to their new bodies. She helps train them build the body that the men have always seen themselves having. The group that works out also helps build a community to discuss the changes their bodies are going through and form a brotherhood they had not previously had. The program enabled Hailee and her now wife to attend the ESPY’s in 2015 because Google+ created a commercial for City Gym, shining light on this program.
As my first community post I am honored to have interviewed Hailee and learn more about her life as well as City Gym. Their commitment to making the gym somewhere one can belong rather than something one has to tolerate is truly inspiring. City Gym’s social media is nothing but positive praise for their members, the community, and the hard work individuals put into bettering themselves.
Find City Gym at their social media here: