15 Forms of Queer Exercise I’m Doing in 2020

It’s Wellness Vibes Week! We’re taking some time at the start of this brand new year to explore wellness culture/wElLnEsS cUlTuRe through a queer lens, specifically the kind of queer lens that you can only find at your local Autostraddle. No celery juice or vagina steaming, just some chill tips for making your spiritual, physical and mental health a little better in 2020.


Many thanks to my Lyft driver for checking in with me on how I’m doing with my new year’s resolutions, and casually asking me how often I run around the very pretty lake just down the street from my apartment. But while the rest of my friends — at a Pleasure Brunch no less — declared that they’re getting ripped in 2020, I will be dedicating myself exclusively to the projects of maintaining my Taurus moon lifestyle and queering exercise with these rigorous activities.

1. Carrying cases of wine and La Croix into my apartment

I live on a very steep hill and up at least 25 steps. Every time I leave, I ask myself, “But do you want to have to come back?” I can only assume my guests feel the same way, so I do my best to provide ample amounts of wine and sparkling water to the people who end their trek at my place.

2. Walking my bicycle

Some people have dogs, and I recently saw a cat on a leash who was enjoying the sunny afternoon. I think bikes are really fun to be with outdoors, they like to get their gears whirring. Mine has needed a tube replacement for a while now, and I also find a lot of streets scary to ride on, so we take walks.

3. Giving massages

I really do enjoy making other people feel good, and finding those tense places under the shoulder blades that need a little love. But I’m also hoping to get a massage in return. Which is what makes it worth the active pushing, pressing, and meat tenderizing.

4. Taking photos of my friends’ cats

I’ve been to yoga classes that are less strenuous than crawling around on the floor to catch my friend’s new kitten, under a chair, in a perfect pose, with her giant eyes gazing over her shoulder.

5. Rearranging my bookshelf

I always think that I want my bookshelf arranged by color, but then I need to find out exactly how Yrsa Daley-Ward makes that artichoke feel so gay, and I really do need it by genre. It turns out books are not light.

6. Picnics

I have been duped on a number of occasions into thinking that I’m going to eat some cheese outdoors — one of my favorite activities — only to find out that an eager “friend”, clad in athleisure, will only open the cheese after we walk up a giant hill or around an ancient crater or down and out of a huge — one might even say, grand — canyon. I’m sure it’ll happen again.

7. Building IKEA furniture

My dedication to having a comfortable and well-appointed living room knows no bounds. I will exert myself to make sure your coffee table is level and that our pizza is always safe, our khao soi will not spill.

8. Masturbating

I still have a couple of tricks to impress myself. I’m worth breaking a sweat.

9. Breaking in a new pair of shoes

Because I live in LA, it’s easy to have a collection of shoes that I never actually HAVE to walk in. I can just stand at an art show, or sit on a bar stool, or sprawl on the lawn near that pretty lake by my apartment. But I am committed to this pair of stiff high tops that will require me to take brisk, painful walks until we come to an understanding.

10. Straining pasta

The word “straining” really captures everything.

11. Holding a full charcoal chimney over my head

There are no limits to what can be transformed by smoldering charcoal, and grilling is quickly becoming one of my best skills. However, it’s not always easy to get charcoal to light. Sometimes there’s better air circulation when you hold the chimney up high. So it’s possible that in the process of lighting said charcoals, I might be transforming my arms.

12. Piano lessons

I do spend a lot of my day typing, but it doesn’t come close to the finger strengthening scale exercises I do so that my weak pinkies will one day carry enough power to complete a Janet Jackson song, and win over a really cool person who isn’t made uncomfortable by my singing.

13. Queer dance parties

Dancing is something that just happens to me. It’s nice to do with other people and a DJ, but it will also happen in the kitchen, in my car, at the bakery: the queer dance party is always on.

14. Watering all of my plants

Because the majority of my beautiful plants were given to me by someone I care about, as a symbol of our mutual investment in each other’s growth, I make my rounds daily to check the soil texture, pick off dead leaves, and water when necessary. All the trips back and forth to the sink really add up.

15. Climbing in and out of bodies of water

Into deep pools at the Korean spa, back onto high boats that have taken me into ocean water, around the jagged rocks of a hot spring, out of a pool at a rented house where the stairs are far away from my drink. I can make it look graceful, but only with a lot of effort.

So yeah, no, you won’t find me running around the lake, but friends, I won’t be NOT exercising.

Kamala Puligandla lives in LA and is the writer of various autobiographical fictions. She is the distinguished recipient of her parents' leftovers and hair compliments from strangers on the street. Her first novel is forthcoming from Not A Cult. Find her work at kamalapuligandla.com.

Kamala has written 30 articles for us.

9 Comments

  1. As someone from LA, I usually ride my bikes in state parks & gravel roads to avoid cars. However, yesterday I did my first group street ride with Hot Babes Crusin’ Club & had a great time! We did a 20-mile late-day(start at like 1:30pm) cruise starting at Echo Park to the Arts District for an art event type thing & then back. We ran 20 gals & non-binary pals deep with the even organizer & her friends being part of the safety crew. Everyone was friendly & awesome! You should join for their next ride if you can.

  2. 6. I have a friend who likes to invite us over for homemade curry, but then makes us do a 3km uphill walk AFTER we are completely stuffed to the gills with dal and roti. (The curry is still worth it)

    12. Never underestimate the importance of finger strengthening

    One of my own to add:
    16. My cat’s very favourite thing is to be chased around the house at top speed, and since it’s winter now he refuses to go outside and instead demands this game (by dumping all his cat toys into the middle of the floor so we trip over them and pay attention) multiple times per day to relieve his boredom. Queer cat lady exercise, check

  3. “I’ve been to yoga classes that are less strenuous than crawling around on the floor to catch my friend’s new kitten, under a chair, in a perfect pose, with her giant eyes gazing over her shoulder.”
    This made me cackle! Same with my dog! Another one of my exercises is crouching down to put tiny dog’s harness on.

    “a huge — one might even say, grand — canyon.” Also hilarious lmao

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