July 30, 2019

Tales from my Box – A Big “O” Origin Story

text by Sara Gross

“Tales from my Box” is a weekly column by Live Feisty Media founder, Sara Gross. Here you will find stories from Sara’s CrossFit box or triathlon, or sports in general. Alternatively, you may find vagina news or other experiences related to being a woman.  And on very special occasions like today – the tale will be about both. 

I must have been 18 or 19 years old when I had my first orgasm at the gym. Prior to that I had experienced that warm tingly sensation in my groin indicating that it might happen on a number of occasions, but I always stopped before the big moment, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because the gym is a public space.

On this particular day I got curious. Could I actually make it happen? I was doing straight leg raises on that thinga ma doodle with a padded back and arm rests with handles. You know the one. I have since learned that it’s called the Captain’s Chair.

“The American Council on Exercise named the standard captain’s chair crunch one of the most effective ab exercises for stimulating the rectus abdominis and obliques after performing a small study that pitted the move against 12 other popular ab moves.”  [1]

Well aye aye captain. That day more than my rectus abdominis and obliques were stimulated. With each leg raise the feeling grew stronger and I just had to know. Could I do it? The whole experiment was going to end in one of two ways: either the intense feeling would stop my ability to continue to contract my core and I would collapse, DNFing before the finish line; or I would make it to the tape and then be met by the task of keeping my composure so as not to disturb other gym users.

I did 22 straight leg lifts before the moment arrived and even managed to jump down and lean against a wall, head down, eyes closed until the waves passed. I’m pretty sure no one noticed. Or if they did, they probably assumed I tweaked a muscle or just over-exerted myself. I mean, 22 legs lifts in the captain’s chair is a happy ending unto itself for your core strength.

While achieving the Big “O” at the gym might at first seem like a super-power, it’s actually super distracting and weakens your muscles when you are trying to make them strong. It’s not particularly… convenient.

I’ve gone through most of my adult life assuming my intense reaction to core work was normal, but never thinking to turn to a friend and say “Hey… so… do you ever accidentally have an orgasm at the gym?”

Until one day last year I was reading an article that as a side note said something like “women don’t just have orgasms during sex, they also happen during childbirth, exercise…”  I can’t remember what else was on the list (sorry ladies!) because I got stuck on “exercise.” Maybe I could prove my normalcy once and for all?

My friend Karen was lingering in the kitchen so I posed the question, had she ever…?? Without missing a beat, she said yes, in high school while climbing the rope.

Since then I’ve learned that climaxing during a workout is not unusual. In fact, there is an entire book on the topic. 

Researchers Debby Herbenick, PhD and J. Dennis Fortenberry, M.D., wrote about the aptly-named Coregasm in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy. Here are a few highlights from their findings:

  • The “official” term for the Coregasm is Exercise Induced Orgasm or EIO.
  • EIO occurs most often when engaging the lower abdominals and pelvic floor.
  • Other exciting exercises include weight lifting, cycling, running, yoga and rope climbing.
  • Much like vaginal orgasms, when it comes to EIO, you either have it or you don’t. So those who have reached climax during exercise have done so more than 10 times, and those who haven’t… well, sorry.

Sure enough, the day after learning that my peak fitness experiences are more widespread than expected, we did rope climbs at CrossFit for the first time since I joined the gym. My climb was less earth shattering than Karen’s but I made it to the top. Of the rope.  And then I talked about it on the If We Were Riding podcast. And named the segment “Tales from my Box.”

I asked listeners to send me their “orgasm during exercise” stories and the next day my inbox was full and I felt proud of having brought people together around a common experience.  It’s good to know I’m not alone. I heard about speed suits that rub in all the right places, saddles that ride well and a plethora of tales of core work gone beyond expectations.  

As a former historian I love a good origin story and that first coregasm signalled the beginning for “Tales from my Box.” No one forgets their first. 

Plus, I can’t overlook an opportunity to help normalize the female experience, for the good of womankind – obviously.

My podcast co-host Kelly O’Mara says I shouldn’t call this new column “Tales from my Box” but I figure as a woman and an ex pro athlete turned CrossFitter, everything is technically a Tale from my Box, meaning that most of my experiences are about sport (or pleasure) and I can’t not be a woman (or have a vagina). So. Onwards and uh, uh, upwards.


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