BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Personal trainer Rachel Robinson says that when she was a teen in Miami during the 1990s, there were few other visibly fit lesbians she could identify with.
“I grew up as an athlete. I was always involved in some kind of training,” said the former MTV Road Rules star, who ideally works out five times a week, 30 minutes a session. “But realistically, most people can’t, so I suggest three or four times a week for an hour.”
Robinson, 29, on Friday offered free body toning tips during Aqua Girl, an annual five-day festival in Miami Beach for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.
“The gay men’s community is definitely healthier than the women’s,” Robinson said. “There are so many more parties where they’re ripping off their shirts. I can’t tell you how many gay men are training for a particular pool party. The lesbian community definitely needs more programs centered around fitness and health.”
Robinson said staying fit doesn’t mean obsessing about weight.
“When you’re working out and staying active, it’s how good you feel,” Robinson said. “People focus too much on a number.”
Robinson said her “ideal weight is when I know that week I’ve exercised and eaten healthy. That’s when I feel good.”
While living in Los Angeles during the mid-2000s, Robinson stopped working out.
“I realized that not only did my mental stability decrease, my confidence went down,” Robinson said about that three-year period in her life. “There were a lot of times I didn’t feel good about myself. When I started working out, I started feeling great again. … I was just a happier person.”
Robinson attended her first Aqua Girl about 10 years ago and says most tourist-oriented circuit parties are not conducive to good living.
“It surrounds a weekend that could be pretty unhealthy, like drinking,” she said. Aqua Girl only allows cigarette smoking in a few designated outdoor areas.
Robinson will offer personalized fitness programs for Aqua Girl attendees.
“I take their body fat, everybody gets a packet on nutrition. I talk to them about realistically what it takes to be healthy.”
Aqua Girl is produced annually by Aqua Foundation for Women, which awards grants and scholarships throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
“Wellness is part of our mission statement,” said Executive Director Robin Schwartz, adding that last year, Aqua Foundation awarded $40,000 in South Florida grants and $40,000 in scholarships for 11 women.
One $4,000 grant was given to University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies, to learn about the health risks of transgender women in South Florida. A $15,000 grant to the Pride Center in Wilton Manors will pay to create an online directory of LBT-friendly healthcare professionals.
“A lot of women, LBT women, don’t go to the doctor proactively. They’re not doing their preventative health,” Schwartz said. “The reasons are financial and fear of discrimination. Something as simple as going to a gynecologist and one of the first things they ask is whether you’re on birth control.
“I have no problem telling a doctor that I’m gay. But others, they don’t know the reaction from the doctor. ... Imagine being a transgender female to male. You look like a male on the outside but still have ovaries. Can you imagine the doctor’s reaction?”
IF YOU GO
Aqua Girl 2012 runs May 2-6 at various venues. www.aquagirl.org.