October 4, 2023 843 PM
Texture Presidio uses the art of photography and storytelling to explore and highlight the textures and tales that make Presidio and the surrounding desert landscape both beautifully ordinary and unique.
Fitness spaces always have, and likely always will, give me anxiety. Beyond the tapestry of complicated feelings of body image, self-acceptance, and all things relating to our outer skeleton/skin and the way we move in it in the world, it is the familiar setting of some personal tragedy for me and my family, only adding to my overall complicated unease. If you share in this mixed bag of emotions — I see you.
This is an ode to a local fitness space that has become an integral part of my week and a mighty source of inspiration.
Magdiel Ortiz and her husband, Franky Ortiz, both in their 30s, opened Aesthetic Fitness in Presidio in early 2022. Native to both Ojinaga and Presidio, the couple chose to open here to be close to their relatives. Their fitness space is striking — a sea of red and black shiny equipment greets you as you open the doors to the sizable room. It has a bonus lofted second story housing most of the cardio equipment. It is accompanied by a soundtrack of high-energy Latin trap and pop tunes.
Spending many mornings a week at Aesthetic Fitness has helped me conquer my fears, not to mention reclaim my strength. As a woman who previously felt uncomfortable in male-dominated gyms, I feel at ease thanks to the clean space, stable and easy-to-use equipment, wide-open layout, respectful patrons and attentive management. It’s common to see Magdiel, who runs the day-to-day operations, greeting you with a friendly wave hello, never far in case you have a question or concern. She’s quick to offer an Instagram shoutout, with a side of protein shake, to those members who brave the gym on their birthdays –– tangible perks of joining a locally-owned gym.
In the early mornings, an energetic group of women, including Magdiel, gather from both sides of the border. Coached by Noelia, this collective is a safe space to support each other’s fitness journeys and push each other to be their best. Beginning simply as friends working out together, it has become the setting of serious training, allowing its members to ace sizable feats. The group’s positive and hard-working energy creates a welcoming and inspirational atmosphere that seems to last throughout the day. It’s palpable.
“The success of each woman must be the inspiration for the others; that’s why we must rise up among ourselves. Because if one shines, all the others shine,” Magdiel says, poignantly explaining why supporting other women is a priority for her.
For Magdiel, running a gym has been a welcome opportunity to meet new people and further create new friendships. While she is originally from the area, she has been introduced to many new faces from the region. She has great hopes that the community will be encouraged to to benefit from her gym, improving their own health and fitness journeys no matter their prior experience.
With temperatures reaching all-time highs this summer in Presidio, Aesthetic has genuinely been a respite for those wanting to do just that while avoiding the heat. I myself have been grateful for access to a treadmill on days when even an early morning walk is too sweltering.
“Gymtimidation” is a term coined to represent the fear and anxieties felt about going to the gym, which women disproportionately feel; this seems to be squashed and conquered by the lady members of the early morning fitness group, and all of the women I see, at Aesthetic Fitness. Bringing power and femininity to their workouts, this crew is doing their part to redefine the narrative, supporting each other in both their individual and collective successes along the way — a rarity I’m only reminded about when talking to other women about their own challenging gym experiences near and far.
Their time in the morning serves as more than just fitness, bringing exuberant joy to their lives as they get advice on situations with their children, on their jobs, and stick around after their workouts to tell stories and catch up — a truly integral experience. They often take breaks for empowered selfies, funny TikTok posts and tips for their various social media accounts.
“It’s my daily therapy, coming here to meet the girls,” says one of the group members, Madai.
Miriam agrees, adding, “The gym is very special. Somehow it changes your self-esteem, it makes you feel better. It teaches you to be grateful for your body and that you can always be better than yesterday.”
If you are in or are visiting Presidio and you’ve been considering joining a gym or have curiosities about it, this is your nudge to give it a try. You can go by Aesthetic Fitness to hear more information, whether to give it a try for a day fee (great for visitors) or sign up for a monthly membership.
Hannah Gentiles is a photographer with a background in social work who has lived in Presidio County since 2015. She currently runs “Texture Presidio,” a photo essay-based storytelling project, and lives in Presidio. To find out more about Texture Presidio and her photography, visit www.hannahgentiles.com/texturepresidio or ig:texturepresidio