Queer fitness instructor Hans Braga was never shy of being authentic, which is what brought him success in the industry
“I used to always receive comments like ‘Wow you’re so fit or batak for a gay guy,’” says Rise Nation and The Movement Studio instructor Hans Braga.
That line caught my attention as I was transcribing Braga’s interview. As someone who’s been involved in sports since I was a kid, I’ve received my fair share of sexist comments. Often, the easiest thing to do is shrug it off and pretend that this is just how things are.
But what if you can prove that gender and sexuality doesn’t mean anything in sports and fitness?
That’s exactly what Braga did. The 24-year-old has been using his platform to prove that queer people are as strong (or can even be stronger) as anyone else in the studio. Braga, who is also a freelance host and model, is openly gay in the fitness industry and works to encourage the queer community to accept themselves, or, in his own words, be as authentic as possible.
“The best way to move past stereotypes is to be as authentic as we can, by living our truth so we can break the negative connotations thrown at us,” says Braga.
Braga has never been shy of the spotlight given that musical theater is his first passion, which has had a massive influence on his coaching style. It’s what encouraged him to be his authentic self wherever he is and inspires others to do the same.
The Rise Nation coach has always embraced his authenticity, which is why he never believes in microaggressions thrown at him. This continues to be the key to Braga’s success in the fitness industry, which he has been part of since 2018.
When and how did you learn more about your sexuality?
I always knew I was into boys. But I think the people around me knew before I did. There wasn’t really a moment when I realized I liked guys. I just always felt I was different from other kids. Maybe it was because I’m an Aquarius or maybe I was just born gay. Who knows?
Were you ever belittled in the fitness community for your sexuality?
I used to always receive comments like “Wow you’re so fit or batak for a gay guy!” I never took offense to this and just took it as a compliment. But this kind of thinking perpetuates the idea that LGBTQ+ people can’t be strong. I’m sure people [who] say this don’t mean any harm but a shift in perspective goes a long way. LGBTQ+ people can be fit and strong, too!
The best way to move past stereotypes is to be as authentic as we can. As instructors, our platform allows us to show our communities that we can be queer and strong. By living our truth and showing people like us that it’s okay to do so, we can break the negative connotations that come with queerness.
Has your sexuality ever affected your fitness career?
Not at all! I came into the fitness industry openly gay. It’s not something I ever tried to hide. In fact, I think it helped me stand out at the time. When I first started teaching at Ride Revolution, I was the only openly gay instructor. I think this really helped me connect with a lot of riders because I was never afraid to be open about who I am and who I love.
Most of the fitness industry is accepting, especially group fitness. As instructors, we champion inclusivity and acceptance. These values definitely reflect in the community we foster.
Speaking of acceptance, how do you use your platform to make people feel that in the community?
The group fitness industry is making great strides in making LGBTQ+ people feel seen and included. We give people a safe space to be themselves and feel strong. Having instructors who are open and proud resonates with a lot of students. When you see someone like you teaching, not only do you feel a connection but you also feel like you could be just as strong as them. When you feel represented, you feel like you can do anything.
What’s your message to the LGBTQ+ community, especially those who are dealing with prejudice and toxic masculinity?
Just live your most authentic life and the rest will follow. Trust that it’ll work out. The people who matter really don’t give a fuck. And if they do, you’re better off without them. It’s 2020, the world is ready for you!