Heeling Workout

Celebrity trainer Jason Wimberly on the virtue of working out in heels

Jason Wimberly with Raja. Courtesy World of Wonder

This post is part of a series of Queerty conversations with models, trainers, dancers, and, well, people who inspire us to stay in shape–or just sit on the couch ogling them instead.

NameJason Wimberly, 38

City: Los Angeles. I’m from a small town in northern California called Lodi.

Occupation: Celebrity Personal Trainer & TV Host of Working Out is a Drag on WOW Presents Plus

Favorite Gym: Equinox. I work with them, so I sort of have to say that. However, their facilities are the best in the world.

Do you have a favorite exercise playlist?

Surprisingly, I like 90s rock: Nirvana, AC/DC, Metallica, that sort of stuff. I’m in a Nirvana sweater every other day.

What’s the best food to eat prior to a workout?

If I had to pick one thing it’d be an apple. An apple is the perfect pre-workout meal. It has the right amount of sugar, carbs, the fiber slows down the sugar so your insulin doesn’t peak. It’s just energetic. It has all the good things you need for a good workout.

What’s the best outfit for working out?

I tend to wear a lot of one-pieces. I like leotards and unitards.

How do you balance staying in shape and having fun?

I’m one of the lucky guys: movement is fun to me. That’s why I’ve taught over 7,000 classes and been a trainer for 20 years. I’m fortunate in the sense that movement is my enjoyment, and my mission in life is to help other people find that enjoyment too.

I like that you define it as just “movement,” which is so general. It could refer to working out, dancing, yoga, aerobics, a lot of things. What is it about movement that prepares you for day-to-day life?

I think in a world where things are out of our control, the one thing we can control is our own body and own mind. I think of it as mastering my universe. If I want to be the best outside, I need to be the best inside first. It gives me strength. As a young gay man who looked different from everybody else, who was too skinny and too gay, fitness made me feel strong.

What’s a basic, if useful, work out tip you can offer? 

Move more of your body. Get off the machines. Dump the machines that work just one body group. If you want to change your body as quickly as possible, you need to move your body as much as possible. Do big stuff. Jump, dance, do whatever, just move your body.

How did this show come about?

I had a really bad year at the beginning of last year. My best friend passed away. I had a series of events that were really traumatic. I left my company. But, I took some free time and felt creative. So I went into World of Wonder and said I wanted to create uplifting, gay, original content. And I said I wanted to work with drag queens. And they said…”ok.” The whole concept of the show is a different queen from RuPaul’s Drag Race comes in every episode. We have a body group that we focus on, be it runway-ready legs, beach-ready booties, or whatever. I teach the queens but I also want the audience to get up and move with us. It’s very much encouraging people to get up and move, and it’s educational. And then we put on high heels and dance around. I wanted to make fitness more fun.

RelatedTrainer Ian Armstrong on why you should take an edible before a workout

Why drag queens?

I do a lot of modeling work on a lot of runways, and a lot of my work is sort of androgynous. For so much of that, people question if I’m a drag queen. I’m just a guy that looks good in heels. it’s not weird. But I know how athletic it is to wear a pair of heels on a runway. So when I think about fitness, I think it, unfortunately becomes every heteronormative. All the men sort of look the same way, and all the women sort of look the same way. In my entire career, I’ve sort have been in the middle. I’m a 6’1” guy who’s also a women’s size small. It doesn’t matter what you look like, I want everyone to feel and look strong in their bodies. I think about the young gay kid in Oklahoma that might be scared to go to the gym. This might inspire him to get out there and do it. Drag queens have to work out. They have to be in shape to get up and perform. They’re not big buff men. And we have conversations about this on the show. So I wanted to do something that shows everyone deserves to move. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, butch, femme or a drag queen, you’ve got to take care of your body.

Is it hard to get the queens to go on camera out of drag?

No actually. I initially wanted them to be in drag for part of the show, but nobody wanted to. Drag is very hot and sweaty to begin with, so we look at this as a kind of behind-the-scenes thing.

Is there a difference in the kinds of exercises to do to achieve a more “masculine” or “feminine” body?

For sure. Certain men hyper-focus on the chest to get a more masculine physique. But those muscles aren’t even functional past a certain point; it’s just an aesthetic. You can train your body to look a certain way. I personally have always believed in training the body to function. That’s part of the reason I feel so comfortable being a smaller guy. I know what my body can do. So, you can train for performance or for aesthetics, but I think performance is the way to go. That’s how you’re going to live the longest and be the healthiest.

What’s the most important thing for people to know about staying active while at home?

It’s about just finding ways to incorporate movement into daily life. Right now, a lot of people are getting out of the house and taking a walk. For the first part of that walk, do lunges the whole way. Touch your toes. Just get up and do stuff. There are ways to make it simple. Find ways to make movement normal.

You’re a big advocate of allowing a diet with alcohol or “sinful” food, so to speak. What’s the advantage?

I love that you ask that question. That’s the way to stay healthy: be honest & happy in your life. As a trainer, the old-school way of onboarding a client is asking what they’d like to change. That never sat right with me. If that person comes to me with a bad mindset, they’re already thinking negatively about their bodies. If you think negatively about the things you don’t like about yourself, you’re never going to be able to change into a person you love. So I don’t even let my clients get on a scale for the first two months. Instead, I ask them about their lives. Are they sleeping well? How’s your relationship? Then I ask for three ways they’d like to feel by the end of our time together. Every human in the world has one of three adjectives that is the same: happy, sexy, or confident. So if you focus on the feeling, you’ll have a result. If you focus on what you can’t do, that’s already negative. Don’t feel guilty for having an extra side with dinner, do an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill the next day.

How does accepting both your masculine and feminine sides prepare you for a healthier life?

It’s being honest with ourselves. For me, high heels were an ideological thing. I was a ballet dancer, so high heels were easy. I really enjoyed how it challenged people. I was a really gay teenager. I was on the dance team. I was a cheerleader. I took a boy to prom, and I was prom princess of my senior class.

I don’t think of myself as feminine at all. I think of myself as the most masculine man I know, and then I put on heels. It’s just a shoe. But embracing it publicly made me steadfast in who I was. It’s real, and when you’re honest with yourself, people respond better.

What do you keep on your nightstand?

I have three books: The Art of Persuasion, Forever Butt, and The Emotional Life of the Brain. And I have my phone charger and Alexa.

Working Out is a Drag streams exclusively on WOW Presents Plus.

Bonus Pics:

View this post on Instagram

Waiting for brunch like… ?

A post shared by Jason Wimberly (@jasonwimberly) on

View this post on Instagram

Who else shaved their head this week?

A post shared by Jason Wimberly (@jasonwimberly) on