Ever Had a Surprise Gym Orgasm?

If you've had a mini-orgasm while, say, on the sit-up machine, science says you're not the only one.

Jul 27, 2012 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

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I'd probably like side-planks a lot more if there were orgasms involved.

Middle school gym class was a terrible time for pretty much everyone I know. I was a little butch and a lot out of shape, so I spent most of my time on the field half-collapsing around in aimless circles, wheezing “I’m open! I’m open!” at the boys in my class so that my P.E. teacher would at least give me an A for effort. The only thing I really enjoyed was our weight lifting unit, which required zero running and made great use of my preternaturally large tween-shoulders. 

Lifting started out great. But in between killing it at the lat pulldown and throwing smug side-eyes at the lacrosse jocks over my bicep curls, I started to notice that some of the exercises made me feel … weird. 

We were moving in a circle, each of us spending about a minute at each station, and every time I got to the lower ab-toning machine, I would feel heat pooling at the base of my belly. I was well into pillow humping by the age of 12, but this wasn’t exactly like my Greek God Fantasy Hour. It was more of an itchy, tense feeling that built up along my tailbone and spread along my pelvis. It never quite reached acute pleasure. But it was close enough that I “accidentally” did the abs repetition four extra times.

“Kate, you wanna try the leg lifts?” my P.E. teacher would ask uncertainly.

“Just -- nngh -- trying to -- um -- get that six-pack!” I’d pant, trying not to mewl. 

“It’s just -- everyone else needs a turn, too.” Damn right, they probably did. 

I’m confident that had I had one of those machines in my childhood bedroom, I probably would have had abdominal muscles like Chris Hemsworth’s by my 14th birthday party.

I always thought this was one of those baby-perv things that I collected like Pogs as a kid. It went in the same box with “signing up for raunchy joke listserves” and “writing hurt/comfort Ash/Misty Pokemon fan fiction.” But it turns out that this, for once, is totally not a Kate-specific anomaly.

According to an Indiana University study, about 40 percent of surveyed women said that they’d experienced “exercise-induced orgasms.” Some of the reported exercises aren’t that surprising -- I, like 9.3 percent of the women studied, spent way too much quality time with climbing poles on the playground in first grade. Ditto for bike seats and climbing ropes: Sometimes, all it takes is something to stick between your legs and a field guide to the 18+ corners of Livejournal and your bits are in business.

But some of these are downright baffling. How can anyone orgasm while running? Isn’t that kind of a hazard? Or the elliptical? I can barely concentrate on "So You Think You Can Dance" on that shit, let alone whether my knees are getting wobbly from post-climax comedown. 

Regardless, the vast majority of women said that their first exercise-induced orgasm took place – you guessed it! – while doing repetitive, strenuous ab exercises. In fact, the study references that very same lower ab movement that sent me into such fits at 12: Apparently, lots of people find the “lift your knees up to your chest” routine problematically sexy. 

Along with making me want to incorporate weight-lifting into whatever Kindlerotica is next on the market, this also fascinates me from a physiological perspective. What possible evolutionary advantage could be associated with coming after extreme exercise? Maybe as a reward for escaping from leopards, our lady ancestors got off without the aid of a single cave-Hitachi. Which, I suppose, is certainly one form of positive reinforcement. 

Even the scientists involved with the Indiana University study seem a little baffled in their analysis, like they were just barely refraining from accusing all their subjects of being horny bastards and calling it a day.

I’d like to find out more, though. My personal history with surprise!coming isn’t just limited to eighth grade gym class. I don’t know if it’s my body-mods of choice or what, but I have a tendency to suddenly find myself halfway down Orgasm Boulevard in, say, an Advanced Shakespeare Seminar class. Or while doing pull-ups. Or, once, on Highway 50 heading to Lake Tahoe and listening to This American Life.

If my Vagina and Co. are embarking on their own journey of positive reinforcement through mini-orgasms, I’d just appreciate some method to the madness. At the very least, I’d know whether I needed to bring a little porn to the stationary bike to help the process along.

So what about you guys? Have you ever felt strangely turned on by a particularly intense round of crunches? Or are the rest of us just unused to how endorphins are supposed to feel? Furthermore, am I the only person driven halfway to climax by public radio announcers? I have to know!

WNYC may or may not be on Kate’s "intimate moments" playlist. Find out what else makes an appearance at @katchatters