Playlist: Cardio Is My Boss Battle

feature image via Zeldapedia.

A couple of you queermo nerds mentioned that the gym and fitness and such was on your list for 2018 when I told y’all you can nerd your workout and Be The Gym Leader. A couple folks have also mentioned, both online and privately in meatspace, that the gym can be a fraught space for a bunch of reasons. Highly gendered locker rooms, toxic masculinity and bro culture, body positivity and disordered eating; there are a million ways to be uncomfortable at the gym. But I’ve been told by my doctor that one way to stop my joints from moving around by their own goddamn selves while I work toward getting to the bottom of, like, why they’re doing that is to exercise. And because the risk of hurting myself is really high as my joints insist on being wild and whacky, I’ve enlisted the help of a personal trainer.

This personal trainer tells me to do things in the gym that either have not occurred to me or that I don’t want to do, and because I’m a Ravenclaw, he knows that if he calls it homework, I will do it. He insists I need to do cardio and I agree with him; the problem is, because I’m a lil’ delicate at the mo’, my options are limited. The exercise bike is basically my option. That’s the option. And as soon as I got on it for the first time in years, I turned to him and said, “ooooh, this tastes the same way black coffee and diet soda taste: this tastes like not eating in college.” He paused, because he is not yet familiar with my brand of resilience humor, and he was like—okay but is this okay? I thought really hard for a moment and said, “yes.”

I am not who I was in college on several counts. The culture of acting and theatre no longer has me in its skinny, shaming grip; my thoughts about gender and my body are far more expansive; I now know to take seriously the question of whether or not something is triggering; I have the ability to build coping mechanisms and reframe experiences that, as I am staring down 30, I did not have when I was staring down 20. I thought to myself, how can I make this a positive experience for me? Not just something I get through, but something I look forward to?

I will now confess an embarrassing thing: when I feel resistance to working out, I channel my D&D characters. They are badass, athletic, flexible and gritty. I get by at the gym, at the yoga studio, in the park by the skin of my nerdiest teeth. And I figured that I could continue in that same vein while tackling the exercise bike. I decided to go full video game; I decided to soundtrack the stationary bike like a boss battle.

Please find here for your use a playlist. We’ve got one warm-up song to help you be the very best like no one ever was, as well as two songs of cooldown, totaling about five minutes, from everyone’s favorite queer farming simulator. I hope you lightsaber all your enemies while you run, walk or, yes, conquer the stationary bike.

Good luck! Or, I suppose, in this case:

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A.E. Osworth

A.E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit), is forthcoming from Grand Central Publishing (April 2021) and is available for pre-order now. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle (where they used to be the Geekery Editor), Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

A.E. has written 542 articles for us.


  1. This is great! Nothing like imagining leveling up to take on the boss to take away the pains of cardio.

  2. I just started going to the gym this week! This is a sign to keep going! Thank you for this article :)

  3. This is an absolutely brilliant idea. Also, is there an official video game column? IS someone in charge of that? Can I drink enough wine to replay all of Zelda and make queer commentary and submit that as a thing, like the nerdy version of those incredible Carol re-watches?

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