Stepping foot into a gym can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you’re just starting out in a wellness journey.
Latina owned, Babes of Wellness in Compton is your not-so-ordinary gym seeking to make that experience a little less intimidating and a whole lot more empowering.
As the only “Womxns only gym” in the area, Babes of Wellness is creating an inclusive and safe space for all woman identifying and nonbinary people looking to start their fitness journey.
Being part of the LGBTQ+ community herself, founder and CEO Kat Novoa says she wanted to “support and show my allyship for people who may be in need of a safe space.”
Physical strength and health is just one of the factors to focus on when joining this gym. Novoa says “it’s about helping them cultivate this lifestyle of wellness.”
It’s important to take a look at a person’s life in its entirety, not just how much they eat in a day or a number on the scale, she explains.
“It's a very comfortable and safe space for everyone when historically gyms are sometimes intimidating places,” said Ilse Gonzalez, a member of Babes of Wellness.
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Novoa first started as a domestic violence advocate, volunteering at fitness, meditation and mindfulness practices at a shelter.
That’s where she says she found the inspiration for her gym.
Novoa says she saw how much women at these shelters benefited from these wellness and mindfulness practices.
“People forget how to breathe, because they’re always on high alert. They’re afraid, they’re going through so much,” Novoa said.
So she grabbed her grandmother’s “carrito del mercado” (grocery cart) loaded in her weights and started as a mobile trainer.
Novoa says she would walk the streets of Long Beach, Hollywood, downtown LA and Compton to meet her clients to help train them.
Eventually she started taking clients to her home where she converted her garage into a home gym.
When the pandemic hit, she was left with no choice but to go virtual with her clients.
In 2021, Novoa said she was looking to buy a home but decided to invest into a gym where she could grow her business and better serve her clients.
Having grown up in the South LA area, Novoa says she chose Compton for her gym because, “I believe our people and community deserve access to wellness especially after the last two and a half years of living through a pandemic and being at a disadvantage.”
In August 2021, she finally opened Babes of Wellness.
“We’re still fairly new but the journey has been definitely long to get here,” Novoa said. “I’m very excited about everything that's happening, the community that's being built, the constant connections and elevation of women’s spirits.”
She says she wants to make the gym a safe and welcoming space for her clients.
“For them to be able to really make this their sanctuary, like their home, that’s the common energy and sense that people get when they come here.”
On their website, potential clients can sign up for group classes or one on one sessions with personal trainers.
The online application focuses on finding out more than just a person’s physical fitness goals. It asks questions about a person's physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals.
Novoa says they never promise a client they will lose 30 lbs in 30 days and tries to stray away from a toxic diet culture.
“They're doing this for the long haul if they’re in this to really change their lives. That’s gonna be a slow and sustainable change that's gonna have to happen throughout time in order for them to build the habits to support the lifestyle that they wanna create,” Novoa said.
For new clients interested in joining, Novoa says it all starts with a conversation.
“What is their 'why,'” she says is their foundation to getting them started on a wellness journey.