Guest Guru: Alisa Singer: Anybody Could Be Doing It – and it’s rather disturbing

Anybody Could Be Doing It – and it’s rather disturbing

by Alisa Singer

Think about it, the lady seated next to you on the train could be doing it. And the young woman at Starbuck’s sipping her latte with a faraway look in her eyes could be doing it too. In fact women everywhere – having lunch with friends, getting shampooed at hair salons, struggling to stay awake during boring staff meetings, reading to children, loading dishwashers, listening to husbands drone on about their days – they all could be doing it. For that matter, the entire line of Rockettes could be doing it in synchronized time. (Squeeze, hold, release, repeat…) Yes, without anyone being the wiser, any or all of these women could be doing it at any time. Kegeling, that is. And it totally creeps me out!

Am I making you uncomfortable? Sorry, but you need to be aware that this intimate pastime is being performed everywhere, everyday, by countless women regardless of age, though the purpose of the exercise varies dramatically with the age of the kegeler. So, a woman may kegel to enhance arousal when she’s young and still interested in sex, to tone muscles to assist in labor and delivery during her childbearing years and to avoid incontinence following menopause.

The good Dr. Arnold Kegel first prescribed kegeling in 1948 for the benefit of women suffering from weak pelvic floors, but men were unable to resist this hands-free, sweat-free, relatively pleasurable and completely invisible form of exercise. So just as they’ve started wearing makeup, getting tummy tucks and eyelid lifts and donning body shapers (have you heard of the “mirdle”?), men have also taken up kegeling. And, like women, their use of the exercise reflects their stage of life. A younger man may kegel to help maintain control during sex while an older man may perform the exercise to enhance firmness and address erectile dysfunction, incontinence or prostate issues.

So now I find myself compelled to wonder about the men too. Is the endodontist doing it while he’s performing root canal on me? The salesman at Nordstrom’s as he’s fitting my shoes? The cabbie while he’s driving me to the airport? The opthalmologist as he’s shining that light thing into my eyes? My husband as he’s reading the paper in the morning…? Squeeze, hold, release, rest…, Yikes! I’ve got kegeling on the brain.

I recently drove past a neighborhood church that had one of those “thought for the day” signs on it. It read, or so my addled peripheral vision told me as I sailed by: “Life too hard to stand? Try kegeling.” I had to drive around the block to read it again before I saw the actual word was “kneeling.” Idly flipping through a magazine I came across an add for a Medicare supplemental plan featuring two silver haired ladies looking at each other and laughing; I immediately assumed they were kegeling. And I wish I hadn’t discovered how easy it is to develop the habit of kegeling to music. (I recommend classic rock or Motown but, unfortunately, almost anything works.)

On the other hand, I wouldn’t wish to discount the significant medical and emotional benefits of this activity. Married couples can discover something they never knew they had in common- their pubococcygeus muscle – and can even choose to exercise it together. Imagine this intimate scene, husband and wife sitting side by side on the couch:
“Good for you?” he asks.
“Definitely”, she says, “and you?”
“Oh, yeah, amazing, I’m up to 106,” he replies, secretly relishing the fact that there’s finally something that he, too, can fake.

And this intimate activity can be shared with any loved one, be it husband, lover, sister, or friend. And while it may not replace shopping as the favorite mother/daughter activity, it helps pass the time together stuck in traffic on the way to the mall.

So why do I find this so unsettling? Committed kegelers will argue that it’s all perfectly natural. My response – if it’s so natural, why do we require excruciatingly detailed instructions about how to find the elusive muscle and even more graphic details about how to operate the little bugger? (Forget about spelling its name.) And once you finally succeed in locating the pubococcygeus muscle, the experts recommend you squeeze it every day, starting with 25 repetitions 3 times a day, working up to 150 repetitions a day. 150 times a day! There is nothing we do 150 times a day, other than breathe, swallow and blink.

As I write this my teenage daughter looks over my shoulder and inquires, “What’s kegeling?” When I tell her she looks at me wide-eyed and asks, in a somewhat horrified tone: “How do you know if someone, like maybe even someone sitting right next to you, is doing it?” I respond with a sly smile: “There’s no way to tell. In fact”, I say looking her right in the eye, “I’m doing it now.” “EEooo…!!” she groans, shielding her eyes as if to drive the image from her mind, “gross!”. My sentiments, exactly.

Alisa Singer’s humorous essays have appeared in a variety of print and online newspapers and magazines across the country and in Canada. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website: or contacting her at