For Keith Llige, the fitness community is where she can be herself and at the same time help the LGBTQ+ community feel at home
By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Tricia Guevara | Photo courtesy of Keith Llige
Coming out is never easy. Out of fear of hate and judgment, not everyone can just be who they really are. This was a challenge for Ride Revolution and Bare Manila instructor Keith Llige, who admitted it was tough to come out to her family. When the 27-year-old first opened up about her sexuality to her parents, Llige admits that it was a struggle to see the disappointment on their faces.
But as time went on, Llige was able to build the confidence to just be herself despite what other people thought. How did she get to this point? Through the support and experience she gained from the fitness community, who accepted her right from the start. Llige, an accounts manager in Lazada, has been in the fitness industry for almost two years now, working as a bootcamp coach and a cycling instructor.
“It was easy for me to be myself around my co-instructors and the Ride Rev & Bare family because they were already so accepting from the start. Of course, people still get surprised when I tell them, but never in a negative way,” says Llige.
For Llige, the fitness community is a safe haven—a place where she can be herself and at the same time help the LGBTQ+ community feel at home. Llige says she’s lucky enough to be part of a fitness community who accepts sexuality the way they welcome people of all fitness levels. She says that no matter who you are, what you wear or who you love, you can walk in the studio and work out with pride.
When and how did you learn more about your sexuality? Was there a pivot point?
There wasn’t a specific life-changing moment that made me realize it, since it was something that occurred to me naturally. Coming from a school where it was pretty normal to have a girlfriend or a girl crush, I was never in denial about it and it wasn’t hard for me to accept at that time. For some girls, it was a phase once you move to college. However, it wasn’t the case for me. There was a time where it got a little bit confusing and I started to question if I was really into guys or girls. But later on, I realized that I was attracted to a person’s vibe and personality without taking gender into consideration.
Has your sexuality in any way affected your personal life?
After high school, it was quite a struggle for me to be comfortable about my sexuality, and it was something I only talked about with my close friends. I remember it being so hard to answer the question “Do you have a boyfriend?” and more often than not, I would either take super long to tell them that I’m bi, or just dodge the question completely. Similar to everyone else, I was just really afraid of being judged and talked about, so I wanted to keep it low key.
It was a bit tough at the start when I came out to my parents. It really took years for me to be comfortable to talk about it with them.
Can you tell us your coming out story?
One day, I finally had the guts to bring my partner to my brother’s wedding. I was tired of keeping it a secret so I was like screw it, this is me, deal with it. I also eventually learned that my parents were really accepting and supportive about who I really am and who I choose to love. Since then, it has been the most liberating feeling in the world—not caring about what other people thought, and just being you.
Can you tell us about how you found acceptance in the fitness community?
I started getting into fitness back in 2017 when I wasn’t as comfortable and “out” yet. At that time, the studios I’ve been going to were already very warm and welcoming to everyone regardless of sexual preference. It was a safe space for most people, and I slowly understood why. Just like how fitness studios welcome people of all fitness levels, it’s the same with sexuality. No matter who you are, what you wear or who you love, you walk in those doors and you work out with pride! The best part about it? You have a whole community to support and cheer you on.
Has sexuality ever gotten in the way of career opportunities in the fitness community?
Sexuality is never an issue when it comes to providing opportunities to instructors. Each instructor has a different vibe, personality, style and class format. From there, opportunities are matched based on each person’s strength and uniqueness. For example, my vibe is usually upbeat, energetic and “pabebe,” so they give me themed classes that are aligned with my personality, like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Disney Teen Stars!
How does the fitness community celebrate pride and it’s LGBTQ+ members?
In both studios I teach in, it has always been about embracing diversity and promoting a sense of community. We encourage riders and members to come and work out as you are [every day]. In Ride Rev, we have an annual event in June called Pride Revolution, where we spread awareness and promote inclusivity and diversity within the community. We have two jam-packed weeks of theme rides, giveaways and merch drops to support Pride Month. It’s one of the biggest events of the year that the whole team and community really actively participate in.