One Badass Biz

The Perfect Sidekick Fills an LGBT Niche


     A swarm of women clad in tank tops and white sneakers thunders down the sidewalk near Jack London Square. The diverse group of females, hailing from as far as Danville, San Jose and El Cerrito, are warming up before an evening of Abs & Assets at the first LGBT personal training studio in Oakland.
     Nathalie Huerta, the 28-year-old owner of The Perfect Sidekick (, has transformed a petite 750-square-foot storefront into a successful no-frills fitness facility. Traditional gym trappings are noticeably absent: no mirrors, orange-tinted muscle posters or clunky weight machines here. Instead, Huerta has outfitted her fitness abode with a quiver of hand-selected trainers, free weights and an authentic camaraderie that helps clients reach their goals.
     “Our social lives tend to be around unhealthy things, like drinking and partying and rock ’n’ roll,” she explains. “And that’s not a good foundation to build a friendship or community.”
Huerta speaks about the intangible aspects of training and how to overcome mental roadblocks with all the same intensity as her amber-hued mohawk. On the back of her neck, a tattoo displays her personal mantra: self-made. “It’s a reminder that you are the product of the choices you make,” she explains.
     Huerta wasn’t always the athletic powerhouse she is today. In 2006, she lost 65 pounds through exercise, nutrition and lifestyle changes. “When I see someone who is overweight, I don’t see dollar signs—my heart goes out to them,” Huerta explains. “Understanding that emotional piece has made me a better trainer.”
     After shedding her “fluff,” as she calls it, Huerta spent the next four years in corporate gyms. But her ultimate goal was to have her own facility where she could feel comfortable to be herself. Now with Sidekick in its second year, Huerta isn’t afraid to pepper her training approach with her own brand of sassiness. Both LGBT and hetero clients look forward to reminders that read like texts from a BFF: “You have a hot date at the gym tonight!” or “Get your booty there!”
     Huerta and her crew understand exercise goes deeper than attaining a chiseled physique (although that isn’t such a bad side effect from working out there). “The real underlying motivation for everyone is they want to look and feel as badass as they really are,” Huerta says. Sign us up.

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