There’s a reason movies and books aren’t based on the lives of people who stay in their hometowns for college: because living in your parents’ house while commuting to and from class is boring. I know, because this was my life.

To counteract my near-constant boredom, I signed up for a $5 membership at my school gym. And during my three-hour gap between classes during my second year, I took to that sweaty prison for circuit training a few times a week.

And it was there that things got weird.

My college gym was all business

My university gym wasn’t like most traditional gyms, in that we had some pretty specific rules. One was that exercisers were forbidden to showboat their fit bodies in tank or crop tops. Nope — we had to work out in something akin to a high school gym class outfit.

No matter, since my express purpose was truly just to be there for the workout. By November I’d developed my own circuit-training routine, making my way through 10 to 15 machines. Often surrounded by young jockular men, I became accustomed to the usual grunts, groans, and strains of the dudes working out around me.

But it was among all these otherwise normal sounds that I started making some most unusual ones of my own.

My gym orgasm came out of nowhere

As I continued my reps and pushed against the weights with my feet, I felt blood rush to my abs and groin. I struggled, pushing harder than usual, and panted loudly. I was overcome with a warm wave of pleasure as I rounded my eighth, ninth, and 10th reps. I bit my lip. I dug in.

I paid no more attention to my form — or how loud I was moaning. I was dizzy with pleasure and pain. Flushed, surprised, embarrassed, and oddly satisfied, I looked around to see if anyone had noticed. Everyone around me seemed to be training as usual. I slowly stood up from the chair onto wobbly legs, wiped down the machine (and my brow), and sheepishly moved on to the next and final machine of my workout.

More exercise = more orgasms for everyone

It wasn’t until years later, when I told my husband about the most memorable workout of my life, that I found out what exactly had happened.

My husband’s internet research yielded information on the “coregasm” — a spontaneous, exercise-related “side effect” first reported by sexologist Alfred Kinsey in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Of the women Kinsey polled, 5% had experienced exercise-induced orgasms.

“Coregasms are caused by exercises that involve core muscles and the contraction, strengthening of the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles,” says Dalia Dissanayake, personal trainer and owner of True Fit You. “Repeated tightening and releasing of the PC muscle is something our bodies do naturally leading up to, and during, orgasm. A continuous contraction of these muscle groups (through exercise) can eventually lead to a coregasm.”

But beyond the obvious amazingness of coregasms, Dissanayake says regular exercise is good for sex in general. “Strength training, specifically of the thighs and inner thighs, will strengthen the intensity of an orgasm for women. The increased blood flow to the genitalia in turn will elevate the arousal during sex. Strengthening of different muscle groups, upper body and lower, will also help with balance, stability, and stamina for certain positions during intercourse.”

To coregasm, focus on abs, legs, and weights

Research completed by Debby Herbenick, co-director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, reveals that 45% of coregasmic women had the experience during abdominal exercises, while 19% climaxed while biking or spinning — and 7% hit the big O while weightlifting.

But the most popular orgasm-inducing exercise is the “Captain’s Chair,” in which you rest your weight on padded arm rests while your legs hang free; then, you lift your knees up toward your chest.

“The first time a coregasm happens it catches the woman by surprise,” says Carlyle Jansen, a sex coach, educator, and founder of Good For Her. “[An] orgasm can happen when we aren’t looking for it.”

Working on my abs at the gym
Working on my abs at the gym

Jansen hasn’t heard of the male equivalent of the coregasm — but suggests it may be because we just don’t acknowledge those muscles in men. “If they don’t ejaculate but orgasm,” she says, “they may not realize because they associate them with each other… or, if they have a strong pelvic floor, it might actually feel like it’s something else. I also wonder because men have way more permission to pleasure themselves than women, they may decide to finish in the bathroom and then return to their workout.”

Still, Jansen says, working out as a means of reaching orgasm may not work. Coregasms are elusive by nature — you can’t just exercise and think you’ll be getting off. Still… it’s certainly a great motivator for going to the gym. Who knows? Today could be the most satisfying workout of your life.