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Personal Trainer Tackles Onslaught Of 'Testosterone-Fueled' Workouts By Offering Gym Classes Taught By Drag Queens

Jordan is a firm believer that fitness should be enjoyed by everybody (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Divas who find keeping fit a drag will be in their element at personal trainer Jordan McInerny's exercise classes – run by drag queens.


Ever the showman, it has long been Jordan, 43, rather than the workouts, who has had his class in stitches with his hilarious antics, which have always included lip-syncing to the music and clowning around.

Viewing his fun approach as the perfect antidote to the stereotypical image of a macho male trainer, and determined to build on his reputation for offering a “fun, safe and welcoming" alternative to “testosterone filled" gym workouts, last year he hit on the idea of Drag Diva Fitness – holding his first proper class in January 2019.

Jordan is supported by three drag queens in each class, who spur on participants with their 'unique fierceness' (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Jordan, of Tooting, south west London, who is married to teacher and writer, Nicholas McInerny, 58, explained: “I've been a fitness instructor for seven years and I'm always lip syncing to the music and making a fool of myself because people just love it.

“Then I thought, 'Instead of me making a fool of myself I could find professionals to do a much better job of it for me – drag queens!'"

Before he could launch professionally, Jordan spent several months selling his drag idea to his bosses at The Gym Group in Tooting – where he still holds a regular class – at first tantalizing them with a charity version of his drag fitness last October.

Jordan is a firm believe fitness should be enjoyed by everybody (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

“We pulled together about 25 members after putting up fliers around the gym and told them we'd be getting some saucy queens to spice up their gym routine!" he said.

Jordan's charity gig, which raised over £400 (~$520) for Lymphoma Outloud, was a resounding success, leading to the launch of his first class at Bankside Fit Hub, in southeast London, as Drag Diva Fitness in January.

Led by Jordan, the body conditioning class included a series of workouts to an eclectic mix of music – from retro disco to 90 girl bands – with the 15 participants being motivated by drag queens clad in wigs and fishnets, for the price of £12 (~$16) for the hour-long session.

Jordan likes to think of his classes as a form of 'fitness entertainment' (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

He said: “It's such an amazing buzz after any class but that first class was just unbelievable – I couldn't believe how well it had all come together.

“There were a few issues with music levels and making sure everybody could hear properly over the pumping music but all in all it was a great debut."

Jordan only moved into fitness in 2012, having moved to London from New York in 2005, where he had been working in the music industry as a digital marketing manager.

“I've always been a very active person and when I moved here I decided to throw myself into something new that I loved," he said.

“I came up with the drag idea for fitness, as I was looking for something different and, being from New York and working in the music industry I was surrounded by drag queens. They've always been a big part of my life – professionally and personally – so it seemed like a natural way to go.

“I've always incorporated a lot of that kind of sass and humor into my gym classes and knew I wanted to expand on that."

A class in action (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

But, despite the outrageous appearance of drag queens, finding people to take classes was not as simple as it sounds, according to Jordan.

He explained; “It was hard to find drag queens that wanted to be involved.

“Everyone has their own body issues and drag queens are no exception."

Jordan is supported by three drag queens in each class, who spur on participants with their 'unique fierceness' (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Jordan added: “The gym can be particularly uncomfortable for gender non-conformists who are hesitant about stepping into a testosterone -filled environment.

“But we've created an environment where people of all shapes, sizes and genders can enjoy themselves in a safe space.

“It is a fitness class and I work people hard but because they're enjoying themselves they don't realize just how hard they're working."

When Jordan's drag fitness classes first launched, there would only be around 15 people working out.

But, after promoting them through local media and by word of mouth, as well as using Eventbrite, – an online ticketing and events platform that puts all the tools for hosting massive events in one place – Drag Diva Fitness now consistently sells out, with 25 to 30 people attending the three sessions he runs, each fronted by him three times a month.

Describing what makes his fitness sessions different to regular exercise classes, Jordan explains that the “whole thing is infused with fabulous, fierce drag culture."

Jordan launched Drag Diva Fitness in January 2019 (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

“When I'm talking through the exercises they're not just 'squats,' they're 'sl*t squats.' So we drop to the floor and slap down like we're having a wild time," he said.

“We're not doing shoulder raises, we're doing 'zig-ah-zig-ahs.'

“I like to tweak names and put slight twists on what's going on by doing stuff like that."

He continued: “I describe the 'hey girl' shoulder press as being like the moment when you're in a busy club, and you look across the dance floor and see your best friend, shouting, 'Hey girl.'

“We also do a 'checking your nails' bicep curl, which involves lifting weight in one arms up to your shoulder as if you were lifting your hands up to glance at your fresh manicure.

“It's just about making yourself comfortable, so people can get into it and not realize how much work they're doing."

Jordan is a firm believe fitness should be enjoyed by everybody (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Jordan also has drag queen assistants, including “the original three" – Mary Poppers, Bella U Voyage and Mayowa Monae – who motivate the class in their own unique way.

“At first it was hard to find find drag queens to motivate our classes but Mary, Bella and Mayowa have all been there from the start.

“Now we have over a dozen drag queens – and kings – on rotation, with roughly two to three in each class.

Jordan launched Drag Diva Fitness in January 2019 (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

“The drag artists perform differently depending on their mood and no two classes are the same.

“They can go from energetic and lovely to insulting and encouraging the class not to exercise.

“Mary Poppers will often walk in as an 'undead, Victorian prostitute,' with a bag full of junk food and a hip flask – full of apple juice, I should say – pretending to be drunk.

“Another queen, Bella, dressed as a witch, has left the class halfway through before and come back with a pizza and sits next to everyone while they're doing crunches.

“It might not sound motivating, but these funny moments are so unique and it really makes the hour fly by for everybody involved.

“You just never know what's going to happen next."

Jordan hold his sell out classes three times a month (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Initially hoping to offer a safe space for LGBTQ people to exercise, Jordan explained that the classes are open to everyone and attract people from all walks of life.

“Straight guys, women, gay men – everyone and every gender is welcome," he added. “We have women in there 60s who love coming along and dancing with newly out gay men in their early 20s."

Determined to unleash everyone's “inner diva," while Jordan's classes vary from week to week, he always wraps up his classes with “the strut."

Jordan likes to think of his classes as a form of 'fitness entertainment' (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

“We finish every class with a catwalk strut," he explained. “Every member dons a wig and props, such as a megaphone, boxing gloves, – or even a fake cigarette – and walks up and down in front of the rest of the group, who are cheering and screaming.

“I want people to feel safe and good in an exercise environment and that's what it's all about. The strut is a central part of that.

“Another key part is halfway through, when each queen takes over instructing the class by performing a unique dance – from belly dancing to twerking – and the class join in for a good five minutes."

Jordan wanted to offer an alternative to 'testosterone packed' gyms (Pank Sethi Photography/PA Real Life)

Jordan added: “As you can imagine, the queens hold no daggers when it comes to spurring the class on, but it gets the sweat pumping!

“It elevates the whole things from a fitness class into a show."

Now Jordan is hoping to encourage other people that “don't fit the mould" to get active. It shouldn't matter how old you are, who you fancy or what you look like – exercise is for everybody, from people in their 20s to 60s."

He continued: “I had woman come in the other day who told me go easy on her – I could see she was quite scared.

“Ten minutes in and she was having so much fun, laughing and sweating, telling me it was the best class ever. That's what exercise should be – it doesn't have to be scary.

“So, get out there, break a sweat and embrace your inner drag queen. There's a diva waiting to be unleashed in each and everyone one of us!"

To find out more about Eventbrite, which has listed more than 5,000 drag events worldwide this year, visit Eventbrite.co.uk