Voting for Readers Voice Awards made easy!

We are in the middle of our annual Readers Voice Awards polling, which, as always, is your opportunity to let your opinions be known about your favorite people, places and things in North Texas — with more than 100 categories in total.

Not only that, but you can also get to help choose the cover image for our issue of March 22 by voting for the Top Hat: We picked our top nine readers’ submissions, from sexy to fashionable to cute to edgy and let you decide which one will grace the cover. The winning submission will have a donation made in its name to its charity of choice.

Finally, voting qualifies you to enter a drawing to win two round-trip tickets on American Airlines! Trust us: That’s a pretty awesome prize, as our prior winners will tell you.

Here’s how to vote (or get people to vote for you):

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Work it!

Dallas is awash in places for fitness-conscious gay men to build muscles … and show off a little

There’s not a loss for gyms around the Oak Lawn neighborhood. Several fitness centers dot the healthy landscape from Uptown to Downtown and several in between. This is a list of health clubs that are among the favorites for the LGBT community.

— Rich Lopez

…………………………………

Club Dallas
Exclusively serving gay men for more than 30 years, this institution actually has one of the largest gyms in the city, and is open 24 hours, 365 days a year.
2616 Swiss Ave
214-821-1990
TheClubs.com

Diesel Fitness
Located on the third floor of the Centrum, it’s right in the heart of the gayborhood.
3102 Oak Lawn #300
214-219-6400
DieselFitness214.com

Energy Fitness joins an already bustling roster of gyms in the Uptown area. Located in the West Village, this gym has garnered praise for its no-nonsense approach and competitive membership fees.

Energy Fitness
This recent gym has gained a reputation for affordable memberships and solid service right in the West Village.
2901 Cityplace West Blvd.
214-219-1900
UptownEnergyFitness.com

Equinox
Located in the old Park Place Motorcars location, it offers a full range of fitness services
4023 Oak Lawn Ave.
214-443-9009
Equinox.com

Gold’s Gym
Locations are throughout the city, but the one in Uptown serves a fit, very gay customer base.
2425 McKinney Avenue
214-306-9000
GoldsGym.com

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

The LA Fitness by Love Field has been a favorite for the community with its convenience to the Oak Lawn area and an impressive list of amenities and classes. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

LA Fitness
Has multiple locations, but the one at Lemmon and Mockingbird by Love Field is popular with gay clientele.
4540 W. Mockingbird Lane
214-453-4899
LAFitness.com

Trophy Fitness Club
With four total locations, one can be found in the downtown Mosaic (formerly Pulse) and in one Uptown.
2812 Vine St. Suite 300
214-999-2826
TrophyFitnessClub.com

24 Hour Fitness
Popular locations include the one Downtown and one at Mockingbird Lane and Greenville Avenue.
700 North Harwood St.
214-220-2423
24HourFitness.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Body & Fitness: Excess baggage

Duke Nelson, above, opts for the more personal environment and one-on-one training he gets at Trainer Daddy Fitness Studio. Smaller facilities are trending as an alternative to big gym memberships. (Photo by Rich Lopez)

Admitting to yourself that you don’t use your gym membership is the first step to recovery — the next is figuring exactly what to do now that you’re over it

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer

Drat those New Year resolutions. Every year for the majority of the population, the first day of the new year is the day to start getting in shape. With the onslaught of gym membership advertisements offering steals of a deal, joining one is clearly the right thing to do. Hey, this writer did it.

The only thing is — weeks (and in some cases months) later, you can count the check-ins on one hand. In the meantime, you’re bank account is depleted on a monthly basis. Frustrated? Broke? Buyer’s remorse? Join the club. But there are some options on what to do with that membership.

Cancel your membership: Well, this is the obvious first step. Hopefully you’ve signed on to a monthly plan that will make this a whole lot easier. Just be strong.

“When you let a health club or fitness center continue to bill you for a membership that you no longer use you are throwing money away,” local trainer J.R. Brown says. “I believe they pick a price point that you won’t miss every month and hope that canceling is just too much work and some gyms make the cancellation process almost impossible.”

A recent call to 24 Hour Fitness to cancel a membership was, overall, easy. But they didn’t go down without a fight. Brown has definitely seen this first hand.

“We will offer you a coupon for an hour of personal training while you reconsider,” said Raymond (just Raymond) at 24 Hour’s membership services line. So if you change your mind, you get the coupon — not get the coupon to change your mind. It was baffling but felt, you know, wrong.

After that was declined, an offer of putting the membership on hold was next. A monthly expense of $38 was being charged, but for $7 a month, it would go on hold for six months. Since it was akin to paying for nothing, this wasn’t overly enticing.

Once Raymond had finished his attempts, he was quite amiable about the total cancellation. The customer service was good and compelling, but never aggressive or guilt inducing.

Sell that sucker: Bigger named gyms likely don’t allow this, but check with your smaller ones. Less corporate types just want to be sure they get paid. Head to Craigslist to post or even buy a membership.

Consider gym alternatives: Yes, it’s nice to think you’ll be going every day after work to the gym, but try to be realistic . Do you have commitment issues? Do crowds bug you?

Consider a training studio that offers training in a smaller gym environment rather than a place to go to with gym equipment.

“At least spend the money where it will do you some good,” Brown adds.

His studio, Trainer Daddy, offers working out in a different fashion and the trend is growing among newer mixed-use developments and their in-house gyms. Trainers work with residents and, of course, clients offering supervised training rather than leaving you to your own devices. Plus, if they are like Brown, there can be no monthly fee and you can skip the crowds.

“Some people prefer a more private environment and they only get charged for training,” he says.

Wait it out: This isn’t about sticking it to the gyms out there. Sometimes we don’t read the fine print and just have to stick with what we started with. This is the time to research what the gym offers that may interest you. Classes may have more appeal than working out without direction. Network with people you know to workout as a group or in pairs. And gyms like 24 Hour offer online fitness training available to members.

The website eHow.com covers the topic of how to motivate yourself in going to the gym. They suggest to “think of the gym as a place to relax, not to work… as a change of scenery from the office and the house, not something obligatory.”

Yeah, right.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Chris Tina Foxx Bruce on discrimination

Chris Tina Foxx Bruce, a transgender personal fitness trainer who’s become something of a celebrity since being profiled by Dallas Voice a few months ago, talks about some discrimination she suffered recently at the hands of a Dallas gym owner.

In her latest video blog posted on Saturday, Foxx Bruce explains that she was interested in contracting with the owner to use his gyms, which are convenient to many of her clients.

“When I walked in, you would have thought I had beaten his child,” she says. “I’m used to the looks. I just would have thought in north or downtown Dallas, it wouldn’t have been such a shock, but he didn’t even allow the time to really discuss credentials, resume. It was just pretty much that he didn’t think I was a good fit.”

Foxx Bruce also confirms in the video blog that she plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Kay Bailey Hutchison in 2012. And she encourages people to vote for her as DFW’s Ultimate Diva.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Barney Frank takes ownership of ‘the radical homosexual agenda’

Rep. Barney Frank

Rep. Barney Frank had a number of one-liners in TV appearances last weekend following the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

He said he wondered what would have happened if he or another elected official had suggested exempting gays and lesbians from service.

”We have this important idea,” Frank said on Hardball on MSNBC. “Let’s exempt gay and lesbian people from having to defend the country. You talk about people complaining about special rights.”

“Showering with homosexuals?” he said in an interview with CNS, a conservative media watchdog. “What do you think happens in gyms all over America? What do you think happens in the House of Representatives? Of course people shower with homosexuals. What a silly issue!”

“Remember, under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ by the way, the policy was that you would be showering with homosexuals, you just weren’t supposed to know which was which,” he said.

Speaking after the repeal, Frank said in a press conference that there is a “radical homosexual agenda” — to be protected against violent crimes driven by bigotry, to be able to get married, to be able to get a job and to be able to fight for our country.

And he put those worried about it on notice: “Two down. Two to go.”

But in a more serious assessment on Hardball, he said, “Giving gay and lesbian people the chance to show, in the most challenging thing you can do in America, that we really are just like everybody else, except for our choices about what we do in intimate moments, will do more to help us destroy the myth.”

—  David Taffet

Get a Grip

Entrepreneur Dawn Meifert turned her germaphobia into a genius idea for gyms rats everywhere

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

DON’T TAKE HER WORD FOR IT  |  Phit Grip inventor Dawn Meifert believes in her product, but so do muscle men.  (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
DON’T TAKE HER WORD FOR IT | Phit Grip inventor Dawn Meifert believes in her product, but so do muscle men. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Not since that schoolteacher added Alka-Seltzer to vitamin C to create the billion-dollar Airborne remedy has germaphobia proven to be such unlikely business inspiration.

In the case of Dawn Meifert, an obsessive hatred of germs became the mother to her invention.

About three years ago, Meifert was at the gym with her workout partner when she noticed a man nearby.

“He was on the bench next to me and obviously sick — sneezing, coughing. He just wiped his nose with his hand, went to the barbell and lifted it. All the hair on the back of my next stood up. I was totally skeeved out. I just thought, ‘There has to be a way for me not to touch his stuff and work out.’”

Meifert knew that she could wear weight-lifting gloves, but her paranoia about bacteria made that a hollow option.

“The guys I’ve talked to who work out with gloves only keep them five to six months because they get so nasty,” she says.

You might as well carry around a Petri dish in your gym bag for all the protection it supplies.

No, she thought. What I need is a barrier between me and the germs. And she started looking in the marketplace.
Nada.

“All that’s out there are gloves and straps — they’ve already been done,” she says. And there was no germ combat. “I wondered what could I do that’s new and original.”

And that’s how Phit Grips were born.

Sold in pairs, Phit Grips are lightweight rubber tubes that wrap around dumbbell handles, barbells, jump rope grips — almost anything at the gym your hands might come in touch with. And to steal from another product, they kill bugs dead.

“The idea came from the shape of a bicycle handle,” Meifert explains. “When I ordered new grips for my mountain bike I wondered how I could alter them and make them something we could use.”

Three years later, she’s on the market with her product.

“People are surprised it has taken three years, but you try developing a product,” she says. “The first feedback we got was that the grips were too thick. Then they were too thin. As we started moving through the manufacturing, we talked about making them antimicrobial.”

The solution was ingenious.

“All the rubber on the outer edges are anti-fungal,” she says. “The antimicrobial agent is in the ink. We had to start over a few times — how do we make the ink vibrant and thick enough? The amount of ink is now five times what it was.”

The idea’s simplicity is also its benefit: Every time you touch the logo is like wiping your hands with a sanitizer; when the ink on the logo fades completely, it’s time to replace your grips. People who work out regularly can expect a pair to last four to six months — as long or longer than a pair of gloves’ usefulness, Meifert estimates, and a lot less expensive (they sell for about $10/pair). And they don’t trap moisture, which leads to callousing. And then there’s the progressive politics of them.

“I’m working with a manufacturer in this country,” she says, though for business reasons, she’s keeping its identity a secret. The antimicrobials are also mineral-based, non-toxic and natural, adds Meifert’s partner and chief cheerleader, Philomena Aceto. Both see potential in the concept.

“We have many more products coming down the road,” Meifert says. Other modifications, including a variety of colors, are also in the works.

Although Meifert rose to prominence locally with her gay-centric Merge Media advertising company, Phit Grips is taking a guerrilla marketing approach to mirror its gorilla mascot. In addition to testimonials and endorsements from bodybuilding professionals and interest from major health magazines, for now the company is focusing on social networking and P.R. through the Cooper Smith Agency. The gay community in particular has embraced the product.

“We want to build our base from here,” Meifert says of Dallas. “We’re selling really well in New York City, but it’s expensive to buy advertising there.”

And there are all those germs there, too. Oh well, just makes for more customers.

For more information and to place an order, visit PhitGrip.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas