Build Your Body: Legacy’s Felicia Lee-Sexton on Building Confidence

People living with HIV may find it difficult to keep muscle mass. Transgender individuals often look to build a physique to match their gender. Enter Legacy’s Body Positive program.

By Barrett White


For those living with HIV and struggling with wasting, or those in transition who are looking to form their bodies to match their gender expression, proper dieting and a solid gym routine are the best way to reach their goals. Legacy’s Body Positive program is available to all patients, regardless of what it is that brings them into the clinic, but for the LGBTQ community, finding a safe place to reach their fitness goals may be an important step toward their most healthy selves.

In 2018, the Movement Advancement Project released a report detailing the places that people in the LGBTQ community feel most unsafe. The report included doctor’s offices, public transit, and of course, the gym.

Enthusiastic and warm are more than appropriate when describing how Felicia Lee-Sexton makes you feel when you sit down to speak with her. An author, bodybuilder, and the head of Legacy’s Body Positive program, Lee-Sexton considers her gym a safe space for all people, regardless of where you’ve been. She’s been through it, herself—a recovered addict, she knows the power of a health and fitness routine.

“When someone comes in to the Body Positive fitness center, the first thing I ask them is, ‘What are your goals?’” Lee-Sexton says. “We get them set up with [Legacy dietitian Sean Barrett], and I start putting together a workout plan for them.”

The workout plans Lee-Sexton creates for Body Positive clients are tailor-made for each client. She takes into consideration a patient’s ability to access Legacy’s gym, whether they have access to a gym at all or must workout at home, and whether they are trying to slim down, bulk up, manage stress, or if they’re simply trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle or establish a regular fitness routine.

“Just give me your email or your phone number, and I’ll make sure that workout plan is right there for you,” she says. Commonly prescribed workouts for transgender individuals work in tandem with HRT (hormone replacement therapy, a hormone regimen that many transgender individuals utilize for transition) and dieting to help those who want to present more feminine or masculine.

Not all Body Positive patients are looking for any specific fitness goal, though.

“I have one gentleman who just comes in, sits, and reads the newspaper,” Lee-Sexton says. “I’ll look at him and ask, ‘Oh, so that’s what we’re doing today?’ He’ll say, ‘Yep,’ and that’s that. I want my gym to be a place you can come in and be comfortable. A safe space for you to be yourself.”

Lee-Sexton says Legacy’s Body Positive gym is a place for fitness, physical and mental—whether you’re sweating it out or taking time to let off stress by reading the paper.