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‘United by journey’: Meet the Gymshark LGBTQ family taking pride in progress

Transgender Texan athlete Angel Flores and Legendary stars The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler share their inspiring stories.

2022-06-17

Words: James Hodge; Images: Gymshark

In partnership with Gymshark.

Gymshark, one of the UK’s most popular fitness apparel and accessory brands, is known for making a statement. Not only do they produce eye-catching, stylish, sustainable fitness-wear, but they champion those who wear it.

This June, Gymshark have launched their mini-film campaign ‘Pride In Progress’. Shot by queer directors, it celebrates the LGBTQ+ members of the Gymshark family, both for their successes as athletes and their inspiring journeys as LGBTQ+ people.

You’ve already met 'World's Strongest Gay' Rob Kearney and now we are delighted to introduce you to Gymshark athletes Angel Flores and The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler.

Angel Flores

Take one look at Texan trans-athlete Angel Flores and you can see that she is a powerful figure to be reckoned with. Training in dragon-pink Gymshark get-up that emphasizes her impressive physique, Flores’ sheer strength is visible not just through her lifting heavy weights but the look of steely determination in her eyes. What stands out, however, is a wide smile that tells any onlooker just how much she loves to train.

"I look at conditioning and training as a whole as not just my anchor, but my art," she says in her ‘Pride In Progress’ video, which was directed by queer filmaker Devyn Galindo, with Maddy Talias serving as director of photography.

"I know that no matter what I do when I walk into the gym, whether it be stretching or a max-out session, I know that every little bit of it is going to improve me. Every little bit of it is my own way of expressing myself."

Angel Flores

Angel not only recognizes the importance of powerlifting to improve her health and fitness, but the importance of enjoying every moment of it. It’s clear that this is her passion. "I’m going to make it dramatic…  I’m going to have as much fun with it as possible, because if I'm not having not fun, then what’s the point?"

Flores began her transition in 2020, some of which was charted in iconic television show Queer Eye. In episode ‘Angel Gets Her Wings’, she reveals that despite her incredible success as an athlete, she had always been insecure about her body. However, she soon realized it wasn’t her physicality that was the issue, but her gender, and that she needed to transition.

"I always knew I was different", Angel told viewers, but it wasn’t until she took her first steps into becoming a woman that she was able to find a place of happiness: "I looked into a mirror and said 'That’s me'."

Maddy Talias (left) and Devyn Galindo directed Angel's Gymshark 'Pride In Progress' film

Two and a half years later and now Flores is training at Liberation Barbell Club, a queer-friendly gym that offers an inclusive space for the LGBTQ+ community. "What makes the community around me so special is that we are united by the journey," Angel tells Gymshark.

When you think of powerlifting, it might sound like a solitary sport, but one of the highlights of the video is a shot of Flores surrounded by a diverse crowd of fellow athletes. It’s clear that for Flores, it’s being around her people that matters.

"We have built this amazing community, this amazing, inclusive space for anybody to be their true selves and train how they feel comfortable training," she shares proudly. She hopes to create more safe spaces for LGBTQ+ powerlifters in future: "Everybody should have that opportunity in a safe space. It’s a right. It's a human right."

The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler

The international voguers The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler know how to catch your attention. Winners of HBO’s recent popular ballroom reality TV show Legendary, the decadent performers are known for their extravagant costumes and majestic voguing routines.

In their ‘Pride In Progress’ video - directed by queer filmmaker Lloyd Pursall, with John Fitzpatrick serving as director of photography - the group look effortlessly cool in crop tops and tees designed by Gymshark, and treat the viewer to a breathtaking performance.

Their remarkable dips and drops take hours of training, member Diego Mugler shares. "Conditioning your body, coming up with different moves - that really brings us together. We are definitely athletes," he says.

The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler

For the uninitiated whose only experience of voguing is limited to a Madonna music video, why has the form of dance had such a rise in recent years? "Voguing is a feeling, you can be anything you want to be. It’s an art."

It’s also a source of empowerment for competitors who enjoy competing in ballroom culture, a tradition that gained notoriety in the 1960s. It’s clear that Diego is proud of his house’s achievements: "When you are able to walk balls, you are able to walk your everyday life with your head up high."

Lloyd Pursall (centre) directed The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler's Gymshark 'Pride In Progress' film

The Iconic House is made up of six members; Diego, Malik, Prince and Myles, as well as Father of the House Arturo and Mother of the House Tati.

For Diego, being a member of a house is being a part of a family. "Out community is really tight. Some of us come from broken homes, rejection from our families, not really loving ourselves because of what society thinks of us."

Whilst The Iconic House of Miyake-Mugler may have won the ‘Legendary’ title to which they have always aspired, voguing celebrates every dancer in the field. "It's a safe space to be anything we want to be. It doesn’t matter what house you are in. You feel the love."